United States Capitol Dome as seen from the Supreme Court Building, Washington D.C.
In the United States, a system of checks and balances exists to ensure that no branch
of government becomes too powerful. In relation to the Supreme Court (the judicial
branch) one of these instituted "checks" is that the executive branch, the President,
appoints the Supreme Court Justices, who are in turn confirmed, or rejected, by the
Senate (the legislative branch).
For the first 150 years of United
States Constitutional History, apart
from appointing Supreme Court
Justices, there was very little
Presidential intervention in the
activities of the Supreme Court.
However, in the 1940s, starting
with Franklin D. Roosevelt,
things began to change.
Roosevelt was the first president to
invite a Supreme Court nominee,
Frank Murphy, to take the oath
of office in the White House. Along
with Frank Murphy, James F.
Byrnes and Robert H. Jackson took their oaths of office in the White House during
the Roosevelt presidency.
On October 1, 1945 President Harry Truman
became the first president to attend the oath
ceremony of a justice he appointed, Harold
Burton. Like Roosevelt, he also hosted White
House ceremonies for various justices including
Fred Vinson, Tom Clark, and Sherman
Other presidents who would administer oaths
in the White House include Ronald Reagan,
George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and
George W. Bush.
Richard Nixon was the first president to
participate in an oath ceremony. On June 23,
1969 Nixon appeared before the Supreme Court
as a member of the Supreme Court bar to read a
tribute he wrote to the retiring Chief Justice
Earl Warren. Gerald Ford also appeared as
a member of the Supreme Court bar for the appointment of John Paul Stevens in
Most recently, after the appointment and confirmation of justice Sonia Sotomayor to
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, President Barack Obama held a
private reception at the White House in her honor.
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