Chief Justice

Chief Justice in the United States

The highest judicial officer of the federal or state government. The responsibilities of state chief justices vary, but most have substantial administrative duties. The chief justice of the United States functions as the head of the entire federal court system. Some state chief justices perform a similar function in their state courts. Many chief justices also have powers that influence a court’s decision making. The chief justice of the United States is illustrative. First, the chief justice is responsible for developing the “discuss” list, a list of those petitions from parties seeking review of their cases. This gives the chief justice the largest though not the exclusive role in determining which cases will be set aside without discussion and which will receive full consideration. Second, the chief justice presides over conference discussion. This allows the chief justice to direct discussion and often shape options for the Court. Third, the chief justice can assign the opinion writing responsibility when he or she is on the majority side. The chief justice of the United States is appointed for life by the president upon consent of the Senate. The chief justice is appointed to the specific position of chief justice; the position is unrelated to seniority. Chief justices of state supreme courts reach those courts by the various selection methods used by the state. Once on the state supreme court, a chief justice is selected by seniority, vote of colleagues, or some rotation scheme. The term of virtually all state chief justices is limited.

See Also

State Supreme Court (Judicial Personnel issue) United States Supreme Court (Judicial Personnel issue) (Judicial Personnel issue).

Analysis and Relevance

Chief justices have some formal powers not held by

their colleagues. They all enjoy heightened visibility because they hold the position. The influence of any particular chief justice, however, seems to be a function not of additional authority, but rather of the leadership skills the justice brings to the position. Some chief justices possess such skills and have an interest in trying to lead. In addition, a chief justice may sit on a court where colleagues are more receptive to strong leadership. Variations in the leadership performances of chief justices seems to be a product of the interplay of these factors. Chief Justice Earl Warren was a comparatively strong leader largely because of his political instincts and conciliation skills. Chief Justice Warren Burger, on the other hand, was not able to develop the support of his associate justices, and was not as successful a leader. Some chief justices are able to use the opinion assignments to pursue ideological or policy objectives. The opinion in major cases can be assigned to justices who are ideologically compatible or retained by the chief justice himself or herself. Opinion assignment can be crucial to maintaining the initial majority, or to defining the scope of the ruling. Use of opinion assignments in this way can involve a degree of risk if the chief justice’s vote on the merits is intended to retain assignment power. Such action may be viewed as “illegitimate” by associate justices and can undermine the chief justice as court leader.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Chief Justice from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Chief Justice Definition

The presiding or principal judge of a court.

Chief Justice in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias

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Chief Justice Chief Justice in the World Legal Encyclopedia.
Chief Justice Chief Justice in the European Legal Encyclopedia.
Chief Justice Chief Justice in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.
Chief Justice Chief Justice in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.
Chief Justice Chief Justice in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.

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Chief Justice Chief Justice in the Environmental Law Portal of the American Encyclopedia of Law.

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Legal Issue for Attorneys

The presiding or principal judge of a court.

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Notice

This definition of Chief Justice Is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This definition needs to be proofread..

Role of the Chief Justice

United States Constitution

According to theEncyclopedia of the American Constitution, about its article titled CHIEF JUSTICE, ROLE OF THEThe title “Chief Justice” appears only once in the Constitution. That mention occurs not in Article III, the judicial article, but in connection with the Chief Justice’s role as presiding officer of the senate during an impeachment trial of the President. With such a
(read more about Constitutional law entries here).

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State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Chief Justice and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Chief Justice. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Chief Justice should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

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