On this day (Sept 24), in 1789, America’s legal system–as we know it–was established. On this day, George Washington and Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789. This act established a Supreme Court with a six-judge system. There would be one Chief Justice and five Associate Justices. This newly found court was given jurisdiction over all civil actions between states, or between a state and the United States. The Supreme Court’s main function was to determine validity of any law that was inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States.
George Washington nominated John Jay as the Chief Justice, on this day, and two days later the Senate approved. The new position of Chief Justice of the United States, as Washington put it, “must be regarded as the keystone of our political fabric.” Washington also nominated John Blair, William Cushing, James Wilson, James Iredell, and John Rutledge as Associate Judges.
The Judiciary Act also established thirteen judicial districts, with a circuit court and district court within each of these districts. The act also created the Office of the Attorney General, whose responsibility was to represent the United States in cases tried before the Supreme Court. The first Attorney General was Edmund Randolph.
Both John Jay and Edmund Randolph had major roles in the founding of America. John Jay was the president of the Continental Congress, and Edmund Randolph was a delegate from Virginia to the Constitutional Convention. Both of these men were instrumental in establishing America’s judicial system. Without these men, our country would not have the fairest legal system in the world.