Which event must happen for a case to be heard before the Supreme Court?

A. Five of the nine justices must agree to hear the case.

B. Six of the nine justices must agree to hear the case.

C. Three of the nine justices must agree to hear the case.

D. Four of the nine justices must agree to hear the case.

The answer is D: Four out the nine justices should agree to hear the case.

The Supreme Court of the United States decides to grant a hearing when a petition for Writ Certiorari is granted by four of the nine Justices. The Petition for Certiorari is a request that the court considers, review and hear the case, usually filed by the party who lost by decision of the lower court.

For a case to be heard before the U.S Supreme Court, “Four of the nine justices must agree to hear the case,” since only this can assure its relevance and importance. Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution established the Supreme Court of the United States with nine Justices on the Court.

Before taking office, each Justice is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Supreme Court has its own set of rules, and according to these rules, four of the nine Justices must vote to accept a case.


Section 1 in Article III of the U.S Constitution establishes the Supreme Court of the USA. There are nine justices in this court, who are each appointed by the President and then they are confirmed by the Senate.

There are three ways to get a conflict heard in the Supreme Court – federal court appeals, original jurisdiction and an appeal from the state Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court is the only court to hear the case, then it is an original jurisdiction.

This, however, is limited to disputes among states, ambassadors or high-ranking ministers. There are appeals from lower courts as well.

Writs of certiorari

There may be cases when two conflicting parties are not satisfied with the judgment of the lower courts. They can petition the U.S Supreme Court to hear their case. The main way to do this is to request the Supreme Court for a review by asking for a grant of the writ of certiorari.

It’s a request that asks the Supreme Court to order a lower court to send out the case record for review. The Supreme Court isn’t under an obligation to hear such cases, and they usually hear it if the case is of national importance, can harmonize conflicting decisions in federal circuit courts or could set precedents.

Rule of four

It’s practiced in the U.S. Supreme Court that allows four out of nine justices to grant a writ of certiorari. This is so that the majority of the court doesn’t control the court’s docket. This isn’t a rule or law, nor is it needed by the US constitution.

In fact, this is also a custom that’s been observed ever since the Supreme Court got the discretion to choose which further appeals to hear. It’s the way to decide if a particular case deserves to be reviewed and if 4 justices feel that a question of importance is proposed, then the court must review it.

Ways in which a case can get to the Supreme Court

Appeals to The Courts of Appeal’s Decision

One of the common ways through which a case can reach the SC is through an appeal towards a decision that has been issued by a U.S. Court of Appeal, that is below the mighty Supreme Court.

There are ninety-four federal judiciaries which are further divided into twelve regional circuits that each have a court of appeals. An appeals court can decide whether a lower court has applied laws correctly while giving a decision.

There are no juries, and three judges assemble on an appeals court. Anyone who wishes to appeal circuit court’s primary decision can file the written petition for a writ of certiorari at the Supreme Court.

Appeal from State High Courts

Another common way to get a case to SC is by an appeal to decide by a state’s highest court. All fifty states have their own department for the Supreme Court which is the authority in solving cases by state laws.

Some states may call their Supreme Court differently – like the NY Court of Appeals in New York’s Supreme Court. A Supreme Court may not decide on a case that deals with state laws, but they will if it involves interpretation of the United States Constitution.

Original Jurisdiction

Another, but least likely method of a case to be heard by the SC is through original jurisdiction. Here the cases are directly heard by the SC without going to trial in the lower level courts.

The Supreme Court can have original jurisdiction over important and rare cases that involve states, ambassadors or ministers, as no federal court can try these cases.

Factors that are considered when choosing cases

The Supreme Court considers several factors while deciding the case:

-The Court can hear cases to resolve a Conflict of Law: There are 13 federal circuits and 50 state Supreme Courts in the U.S judicial system. If different courts reach different conclusions on constitutional or federal law, then the Court can step in and decide so the country can operate under the same law.

-The Court hears cases that are Important: The Court considers unusual cases like Watergate tapes or issues such as abortion.

-Court can hear cases that speak to Justice’s Interests: Justice’s can choose to hear cases if they appeal to them.

-The Court hears cases when lower courts disregard the Court’s past decisions: If a lower court doesn’t give regard to prior decisions of a Supreme Court, then the court may hear the case to correct the decision.


Supreme Court is the topmost judicial body and upholds justice for the country. They can hear cases of importance and decide on matters that cannot be handled by lower courts.


  1. Rule of Four in the Supreme Court: Taken from en.wikipedia.org
  2. Process of case hearing in the Supreme Court: Taken from law.freeadvice.com
  3. Supreme Court Procedures: Taken from uscourts.gov


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