COVID-19 (coronavirus) Update

The Capitol Visitor Center will be closed for tours beginning Thursday, March 12, at 4:30 p.m. All tours are cancelled. We expect to reopen for tours Wednesday, April 1, at 8:30 a.m. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we look forward to welcoming you to the Capitol Visitor Center at a future date.

Congress and the Judicial Branch: Jurisdiction

Judiciary Act of 1801, April 8, 1800

The Constitution’s framers created an independent judicial branch, but Congress and the president retain significant power to shape the courts.

The Constitution stipulates that “the judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may . . . establish,” but leaves the details of organization and authority for Congress to decide through legislation. How large is the Supreme Court and what is its jurisdiction? What kinds of cases must it hear? How many inferior courts are needed? Congress has used its constitutional authority to address these essential questions.