February 4, 2014 Day 15 of the Sixth Year - History

February 4, 2014 Day 15 of the Sixth Year - History

9:45AM THE PRESIDENT and VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office

11:10AM THE PRESIDENT visits a Buck Lodge Middle School classroom
Buck Lodge Middle School, Adelphi, Maryland

11:30AM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks on ConnectED
Buck Lodge Middle School, Adelphi, Maryland

12:40PM THE PRESIDENT and VICE PRESIDENT meet for lunch
Private Dining Room

3:00PM THE PRESIDENT and VICE PRESIDENT meet with Department of Defense leadership on Afghanistan

Oval Office

4:30PM THE PRESIDENT and VICE PRESIDENT meet with the House Democratic Caucus
The East Room


China January lending soars to 4-year high

China's banks disbursed the most loans in any month in four years in January, a surge that suggests the world's second-biggest economy may not be cooling as much as some fear.

Chinese banks lent 1.32 trillion yuan ($217.6 billion) worth of new yuan loans in January, beating a 1.1 trillion yuan forecast and nearly three times December's level, the People's Bank of China said in a statement on Saturday on its website.

It is usual for loans to spike in January when banks try to lend as much as they can to grab market share, but last month's surge was still the largest since January 2010.

Saturday's figures may assuage those who worry about China's hazy economic outlook following recent data that showed conflicting trends. Distortions to the data as a result of January's Lunar New Year holiday is part of the problem, and some analysts believe it won't be till April before they get finally get some clarity on what is happening.

Some economists cautioned against reading too much into the latest figures.

"The bigger picture is that bank loan growth has been effectively flat since the middle of 2013," Capital Economics said in a note, adding that broader credit growth is at its lowest in nearly one and a half years. "We think that tight monetary conditions are probably here to stay."

Total social financing, a broad measure of liquidity and credit in the economy, was 2.58 trillion yuan in January, double the previous month's figure due to the surge in bank loans.

Compared to a year ago, Capital Economics said growth in total social financing had eased to 17.4 percent in January, the lowest in about a year-and-a-half and down from December's 17.8 percent.

The broad M2 money supply was up 13.2 percent last month from a year earlier, in line with a Reuters poll forecast of a 13.2 percent rise.

Outstanding yuan loans were up 14.3 percent from a year earlier versus forecasts for growth of 13.9 percent.

Bank lending is a centerpiece in China's monetary policy as banks lend at the government's behest, and are told how much to lend and when to lend.

January's lending surge aside, China's central bank has consistently signalled in recent months that it wants to temper credit growth to slow a rapid rise in debt levels across the economy.

It has focused in particular on keeping short-term interest rates elevated to force banks to stop lending to speculators or high-risk borrowers.

Analysts polled by Reuters in January said they expect China's economy to grow 7.4 percent this year, an enviable performance for a major economy, but still the worst for China in 14 years. The economy grew 7.7 percent last year.

A series of surveys that showed Chinese factories and service firms suffered a marked fall in business in January and had heightened worries about an unexpectedly sharp economic cooling. But the disappointing trend was countered this week by a surprisingly strong trade report that showed import growth at a six-month high, a performance that baffled some analysts.


Timeline: Key dates in Facebook's 10-year history

Facebook turned 10 years old on Tuesday. In that time, it has grown from a social network meant only for Harvard students to a company with the mission of connecting everyone in the world. As Facebook enters its second decade, here is a look at some key developments over the years:

February 2004: Mark Zuckerberg starts Facebook as a sophomore at Harvard University.

March 2004: Facebook begins allowing people from other colleges and universities to join.

June 2004: Facebook moves its headquarters to Palo Alto, Calif.

September 2004: Facebook introduces the Wall, which allows people to write personal musings and other tidbits on profile pages. Facebook becomes the target of a lawsuit claiming that Zuckerberg stole the idea for the social network from a company co-founded by twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and a third person at Harvard.

September 2005: Facebook expands to include high schools.

May 2006: Facebook introduces additional networks, allowing people with corporate email addresses to join.

September 2006: Facebook begins letting anyone over 13 join. It also introduces News Feed, which collects friends’ Wall posts in one place. Although it leads to complaints about privacy, News Feed would become one of Facebook’s most popular features.

May 2007: Facebook launches Platform, a system for letting outside programmers develop tools for sharing photos, taking quizzes and playing games. The system gives rise to a Facebook economy and allows companies such as game maker Zynga Inc. to thrive.

October 2007: Facebook agrees to sell a 1.6 percent stake to Microsoft for $240 million and forges an advertising partnership.

November 2007: Facebook unveils its Beacon program, a feature that broadcasts people’s activities on dozens of outside sites. Yet another privacy backlash leads Facebook to give people more control over Beacon, before the company ultimately scraps it as part of a legal settlement.

March 2008: Facebook hires Sheryl Sandberg as chief operating officer, snatching the savvy, high-profile executive from Google Inc.

April 2008: Facebook introduces Chat.

February 2009: Facebook introduces Like, allowing people to endorse other people’s posts.

June 2009: Facebook surpasses News Corp.’s Myspace as the leading online social network in the U.S.

August 2010: Facebook launches location feature, allowing people to share where they are with their friends.

October 2010: “The Social Network,” a movie about Zuckerberg and the legal battles over Facebook’s founding, is released. It receives eight Academy Awards nominations and wins three.

June 2011: Google launches rival social network called Plus. The Winklevoss twins end their legal battle over the idea behind Facebook. They had settled with Facebook for $65 million in 2008, but later sought more money.

September 2011: Facebook introduces Timeline, a new version of the profile page. It’s meant to show highlights from a person’s entire life rather than recent posts.

November 2011: Facebook agrees to settle federal charges that it violated users’ privacy by getting people to share more information than they agreed to when they signed up to the site. As part of a settlement, Facebook agrees to allow independent auditors to review its privacy practices for two years. It also agrees to get approval from users before changing how the company handles their data.

December 2011: Facebook completes a move to Menlo Park, Calif. Its address is 1 Hacker Way.

February 2012: Facebook files for an initial public offering of stock. A few weeks later, it unveils new advertising opportunities for brands, allowing ads to mix in with Facebook status updates and photos.

April 2012: Facebook announces plans to buy Instagram, a photo-sharing social network, for $1 billion in cash and stock. It also discloses it plans to list its stock on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “FB.”

May 2012: Facebook sets a price range of $28 to $35 for its IPO, then increases it to $34 to $38. On May 17, Facebook prices its IPO at $38 per share, and the stock begins trading the next day. The following week, the stock price starts dropping amid concerns about Facebook’s ability to keep growing revenue and sell ads on mobile devices.

August 2012: Facebook updates its app for iPhones and iPads to make it less clunky. The U.S. government clears Facebook’s Instagram deal.

September 2012: Facebook closes its purchase of Instagram. With Facebook’s stock price lower, the deal is now valued at about $740 million.

October 2012: Facebook says it has 1 billion active users.

December 2012: Facebook rolls out a messaging app called Poke to lukewarm reviews.

January 2013: Facebook unveils a search feature that lets users quickly sift through their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places.

March 2013: Sandberg, the chief operating officer, publishes book urging women to pursue leadership roles.

April 2013: Facebook unveils a new experience for Android phones. The idea behind the new Home service is to bring Facebook’s content to the phone’s home screen, rather than require users to check apps on the device. It’s a flop.

January 2014: Facebook starts to roll out “trending topics,” showing users the most popular topics at any given moment.

February 2014: Facebook launches a news app called Paper with plans for more applications outside of its own. It celebrates 10-year anniversary with Zuckerberg declaring he is “even more excited about the next ten years than the last. The first ten years were about bootstrapping this network. Now we have the resources to help people across the world solve even bigger and more important problems.”


Contents

Bryant was born in Philadelphia, [10] the youngest of three children and the only son of former NBA player Joe Bryant and Pamela Cox Bryant. He was also the maternal nephew of NBA player John "Chubby" Cox. [11] His parents named him after the famous beef of Kobe, Japan, which they saw on a restaurant menu. [12] [13] His middle name, Bean, was derived from his father's nickname "Jellybean." [14] Bryant's family was Catholic and he was brought up with this faith. [15] [16] [17]

Bryant started playing basketball when he was three, [18] and the Lakers were his favorite team when he was growing up. [19] When Bryant was six, his father retired from the NBA and moved his family to Rieti in Italy to continue playing professional basketball. [20] [21] After two years, they moved first to Reggio Calabria, then to Pistoia and Reggio Emilia. Kobe became accustomed to his new lifestyle and learned to speak fluent Italian. [22] He was especially fond of Reggio Emilia, which he considered a loving place and where some of his best childhood memories were made. [23] [24] Bryant began to play basketball seriously while living in Reggio Emilia. [25] [26] Bryant's grandfather would mail him videos of NBA games for Bryant to study. [27] Another source of inspiration was animated European films about sports, from which he learned more about basketball. [28] He also learned to play soccer and his favorite soccer team was A.C. Milan. [29] [30] During summers, Bryant would come back to the United States to play in a basketball summer league. [31] When Bryant was 13, he and his family moved back to Philadelphia, where he enrolled in eighth grade at Bala Cynwyd Middle School. [22] [32]

High school

Bryant earned national recognition during a spectacular high school career at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, located in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion. He played on the varsity basketball team as a freshman. [33] Bryant became the first freshman in decades to start for Lower Merion's varsity team, but the team finished with a 4–20 record. [33] [34] The following three years, the Aces compiled a 77–13 record, with Bryant playing all five positions. [33] During his junior year, he averaged 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.8 blocks and 2.3 steals [35] and was named Pennsylvania Player of the Year while also earning a fourth-team Parade All-American nomination, [36] [37] attracting attention from college recruiters in the process. [36] Duke, Michigan, North Carolina and Villanova were at the top of his list. However, after high schooler Kevin Garnett went in the first round of the 1995 NBA draft, Bryant also began contemplating going directly to the pros. [36]

At Adidas ABCD Camp, Bryant earned the 1995 senior MVP award [38] while playing alongside future NBA teammate Lamar Odom. [39] While in high school, then 76ers coach John Lucas invited Bryant to work out and scrimmage with the team, where he played one-on-one with Jerry Stackhouse. [40] In his senior year of high school, Bryant led the Aces to their first state championship in 53 years. During the run, he averaged 30.8 points, 12 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4 steals, and 3.8 blocked shots in leading the Aces to a 31–3 record. [41] Bryant ended his high school career as Southeastern Pennsylvania's all-time leading scorer at 2,883 points, surpassing both Wilt Chamberlain and Lionel Simmons. [42]

Bryant received several awards for his outstanding performance during his senior year at Lower Merion. These included being named Naismith High School Player of the Year, Gatorade Men's National Basketball Player of the Year, a McDonald's All-American, a first-team Parade All-American and a USA Today All-USA First Team player. [43] [44] Bryant's varsity coach, Greg Downer, commented that he was "a complete player who dominates" and praised his work ethic, even as the team's top player. [41] [45] In 1996, Bryant took R&B singer Brandy to his senior prom. [46] Ultimately, the 17-year-old Bryant made the decision to go directly into the NBA, becoming only the sixth player in NBA history to do so. [33] Bryant's news was met with a lot of publicity at a time when prep-to-pro NBA players were not very common (Garnett being the only exception in 20 years). [33] His basketball skills and SAT score of 1080 would have ensured admission to any college he chose, [12] [47] but he did not officially visit any campuses. [45] In 2012, Bryant was honored as one of the 35 Greatest McDonald's All-Americans for his high school play as well as his later accomplishments. [48]

1996 NBA draft

— Celtics general manager Jan Volk on Kobe Bryant during a pre-draft workout in 1996. [49]

Before the 1996 NBA draft, Bryant had worked out in Los Angeles, where he scrimmaged against former Lakers players Larry Drew and Michael Cooper and, according to then-Laker manager Jerry West, "marched over these people". [50]

The Lakers were looking to trade their starting center Vlade Divac for a player's draft rights to free up salary cap space to make an offer to free-agent center Shaquille O'Neal. Bill Branch, the Charlotte Hornets' head scout at the time, said that the Hornets agreed to trade their No. 13 pick to the Lakers the day before the draft. Before the trade agreement, the Hornets never considered drafting Bryant. During the draft, the Lakers told the Hornets whom to select minutes before the pick was made. [51] Bryant was the first guard drafted directly out of high school. After the draft, the trade was put in jeopardy when Divac threatened to retire rather than be traded from Los Angeles. However, on June 30, Divac relented on his threat and the trade was made final on July 9, 1996, when the league's off-season moratorium ended. [52] Since Bryant was still 17 at the time, his parents had to cosign his contract with the Lakers until he was able to sign his own when he turned 18 before the season began. [53] Bryant signed a three-year rookie contract totaling $3.5 million. [54]

Adjusting to the NBA (1996–1999)

Bryant debuted in the Summer Pro League in Long Beach, California, scoring 25 points in front of a standing-room-only crowd. Defenders struggled to get in front of him, and his performance excited West and Lakers coach Del Harris. [55] He scored 36 points in the finale and finished with averages of 24.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in four games. [56] As a rookie in 1996–97, Bryant mostly came off the bench behind guards Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. [57] At the time he became the youngest player ever to play in an NBA game (18 years, 72 days a record since broken by Jermaine O'Neal and former teammate Andrew Bynum), and also became the youngest NBA starter (18 years, 158 days). [58] [59] Initially, Bryant played limited minutes, but as the season continued, he began to see some more playing time.

By the end of the season, he averaged 15.5 minutes a game. During the All-Star weekend, Bryant participated in the Rookie Challenge and won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, becoming the youngest dunk champion at the age of 18. [60] Bryant's performance throughout the year earned him a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team with fellow bench teammate Travis Knight. [61]

The Lakers advanced to the Western Conference semifinals in the playoffs against the Utah Jazz, when Bryant was pressed into a lead role at the end of Game 5. Byron Scott missed the game with a sprained wrist, Robert Horry was ejected for fighting with Utah's Jeff Hornacek, and Shaquille O'Neal fouled out with 1:46 remaining in the fourth quarter. Bryant shot four air balls at the end of the game the Jazz won 98–93 in overtime to eliminate the Lakers 4–1. He first missed a game-winning two-point jump shot in the fourth quarter, and then misfired 3 three-point field goals in overtime, including two tying shots in the final minute. [62] O'Neal commented that "[Bryant] was the only guy who had the guts at the time to take shots like that." [63]

In Bryant's second season, he received more playing time and began to show more of his abilities as a talented young guard. As a result, Bryant's point averages more than doubled, from 7.6 to 15.4 points per game. [64] Bryant would see an increase in minutes when the Lakers "played small", which would feature Bryant playing small forward alongside the guards he would usually back up. [65] Bryant was the runner-up for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award, [66] and through fan voting, he also became the youngest NBA All-Star starter in NBA history. [67] He was joined by teammates O'Neal, Van Exel, and Jones, making it the first time since 1983 that four players on the same team were selected to play in the same All-Star Game. Bryant's 15.4 points per game was the highest of any non-starter in the season. [68]

The 1998–99 season marked Bryant's emergence as a premier guard in the league. With starting guards Van Exel and Jones traded, Bryant started every game for the lockout-shortened 50-game season. During the season, Bryant signed a six-year contract extension worth $70 million. [68] This kept him with the Lakers until the end of the 2003–04 season. Even at an early stage of his career, sportswriters were comparing his skills to those of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. [53] [69] [70] The playoff results, however, were no better, as the Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals. [71]

Three-peat (1999–2002)

Bryant's fortunes would improve when Phil Jackson took over as coach of the Lakers in 1999. [72] After years of steady improvement, Bryant became one of the premier shooting guards in the league, earning appearances in the league's All-NBA, [73] All-Star, and All-Defensive teams. [74] The Lakers became championship contenders behind the center-guard combination of Bryant and O'Neal. Jackson utilized the triangle offense that he implemented to win six championships with the Chicago Bulls this offense would help both Bryant and O'Neal rise to the elite class of the NBA. Three championships were won consecutively in 2000, 2001, and 2002, further cementing this view. [75]

Bryant was sidelined for six weeks prior to the start of the 1999–2000 season due to a hand injury that he had incurred during a preseason game against the Washington Wizards. [76] When Bryant was back and playing over 38 minutes a game, he had an increase in all statistical categories during the 1999–2000 season. This included leading the team in assists per game and steals per game. The duo of O'Neal and Bryant backed with a strong bench led to the Lakers winning 67 games, tied for fifth-most in NBA history. This followed with O'Neal winning the MVP and Bryant being named to the All-NBA Second Team and All-NBA Defensive Team for the first time in his career (the youngest player to receive All-Defensive honors). [77] While playing second fiddle to O'Neal in the playoffs, Bryant had some clutch performances, including a 25-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist, 4-block game in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. [78] He also threw an alley-oop pass to O'Neal to clinch the game and the series. In the 2000 Finals, against the Indiana Pacers, Bryant injured his ankle in the second quarter of Game 2 after landing on the Pacers' Jalen Rose's foot. Rose later admitted he placed his foot under Bryant intentionally. [79] [80] Bryant did not return to the game, and he also missed Game 3 due to the injury. In Game 4, Bryant scored 22 points in the second half and led the team to an OT victory as O'Neal fouled out of the game. Bryant scored the winning shot to put the Lakers ahead 120–118. [81] With a 116–111 victory in Game 6, the Lakers won their first championship since 1988. [82]

Statistically, the 2000–01 season saw Bryant perform similarly to the previous year, but he averaged six more points per game (28.5). It was also the year when disagreements between Bryant and O'Neal began to surface. [83] Once again, Bryant led the team in assists, with five per game. The Lakers, however, only won 56 games, an 11-game dropoff from the previous year. The Lakers would respond by going 15–1 in the playoffs. They easily swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. In the semifinals round, the Lakers swept the Sacramento Kings. In Game 4 against the Kings, Bryant recorded 48 points, 16 rebounds and 3 assists in a 119–113 series-clinching win. [84] They swept the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Finals to advance to the Finals, before losing their first game against the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime. They would go on to win the next four games and bring their second championship to Los Angeles in as many seasons. During the playoffs, Bryant played heavy minutes which brought his stats up to 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. In the playoffs, teammate O'Neal declared Bryant the best player in the league. [41] Bryant ended up making the All-NBA Second Team and All-NBA Defensive Team for the second year in a row. In addition, he was also voted to start in the NBA All-Star Game for the third year in a row (no game in 1999).

In the 2001–02 season, Bryant played 80 games for the first time in his career. On January 14, 2002, Bryant recorded a then career-high 56 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists in a 120–81 win over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies. [85] He continued his all-round play by averaging 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. Bryant also had a career-high 46.9% shooting and once again led his team in assists. He claimed his first All-Star MVP trophy after a 31-point performance in Philadelphia when he was loudly booed by fans as they had throughout the game, stemming from his earlier comment to a 76ers heckler during the Finals that the Lakers were "going to cut your hearts out". [86] [87] While making the All-NBA Defensive Team again, Bryant was also named to the All-NBA First Team for the first time in his career. The Lakers won 58 games that year and finished second in the Pacific Division behind in-state rival Sacramento Kings. Bryant was suspended one game after he punched Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers after the Lakers' March 1, 2002 victory over the Pacers. [88] [89]

The road to the Finals would prove a lot tougher than the record run the Lakers had enjoyed the previous year. While the Lakers swept the Blazers and defeated the Spurs 4–1 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Lakers did not have home-court advantage against the Sacramento Kings. The series would stretch to seven games, the first time this had happened to the Lakers since the 2000 Western Conference Finals. However, the Lakers were able to beat their division rivals and make their third consecutive NBA Finals appearance. In the 2002 Finals, against the New Jersey Nets, Bryant averaged 26.8 points, 51.4% shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game, which included scoring a quarter of the team's points. [90] At age 23, Bryant became the youngest player to win three championships. [90] Bryant's play was notable and praised for his performance in the fourth quarter of games, specifically the last two rounds of the playoffs. [90] [91] This cemented Bryant's reputation as a "clutch player".

Coming up short (2002–2004)

In the first game of the 2002–03 season, Bryant recorded 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals in an 87–82 loss to the visiting Spurs. [92] On November 1, Bryant recorded a triple-double of 33 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists in a 108–93 win over the LA Clippers. [93] He also set an NBA record for three-pointers in a game on January 7, 2003, when he made 12 against the Seattle SuperSonics. [94] Bryant averaged 30 points per game and embarked on a historic run, posting 40 or more points in nine consecutive games while averaging 40.6 in the entire month of February. In addition, he averaged 6.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, all career-highs to that point. [13] Bryant was once again voted to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive First Teams, [13] and came in third place in voting for the MVP award. After finishing 50–32 in the regular season, the Lakers floundered in the playoffs and lost in the Western Conference semi-finals in six games to the eventual NBA champions San Antonio Spurs. [95]

In the following season, the Lakers were able to acquire NBA All-Stars Karl Malone and Gary Payton to make another push at the NBA championship. [96] Bryant was arrested for sexual assault before the season began. [97] This caused Bryant to miss some games due to court appearances or attend court earlier in the day and travel to play games later on the same day. [98] In the final game of the regular season, the Lakers played the Portland Trail Blazers. Bryant made two buzzer-beaters to win the game and the Pacific Division title. At the end of the fourth quarter, Bryant made a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to send it into overtime. [99] The game eventually went to a second overtime, in which Bryant made another three-pointer as time expired to lift the Lakers past the Blazers, 105–104. [99]

With a starting lineup of O'Neal, Malone, Payton, and Bryant, the Lakers were able to reach the NBA Finals. [100] However, they were upset in five games by the Detroit Pistons, who won their first championship since 1990. [101] In that series, Bryant averaged 22.6 points per game and 4.4 assists while shooting 35.1% from the field. [102] Jackson's contract as coach was not renewed, and Rudy Tomjanovich took over. [103] O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant. [104] The following day, Bryant declined an offer to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and re-signed with the Lakers on a seven-year contract. [105]

Scoring records and playoff upsets (2004–2007)

Bryant was closely scrutinized and criticized during the 2004–05 season with his reputation badly damaged from all that had happened over the previous year. A particularly damaging salvo came when Jackson wrote The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul. The book detailed the events of the Lakers' tumultuous 2003–04 season and has several criticisms of Bryant. In the book, Jackson called Bryant "un-coachable". [106] Midway through the season, Tomjanovich suddenly resigned as Lakers coach, citing the recurrence of health problems and exhaustion. [107] Without Tomjanovich, stewardship of the remainder of the Lakers' season fell to career assistant coach Frank Hamblen. [108] Bryant was the league's second-leading scorer at 27.6 points per game, but he was surrounded by a subpar supporting cast, and the Lakers went 34–48 and missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. [109] The year signified a drop in Bryant's overall status in the NBA, as he did not make the NBA All-Defensive Team and was also demoted to the All-NBA Third Team. [110] During the season, Bryant also engaged in public feuds with Malone and Ray Allen. [111] [112]

The 2005–06 season marked a crossroads in Bryant's basketball career. Despite past differences with Bryant, Jackson returned to coach the Lakers. [113] Bryant endorsed the move, and by all appearances, the two men worked together well the second time around, leading the Lakers back into the playoffs. Bryant's individual scoring accomplishments posted resulted in the finest statistical season of his career. On December 20, 2005, Bryant scored 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. Entering the fourth quarter, Bryant outscored the entire Mavericks team 62–61, the only time a player has done this through three quarters since the introduction of the shot clock. [114] When the Lakers faced the Miami Heat on January 16, 2006, Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal made headlines by engaging in handshakes and hugs before the game, signifying a change in the feud that had festered between them. [115] [116] A month later, at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, the two were seen laughing together. [117]

On January 22, 2006, Bryant scored a career-high 81 points in a 122–104 victory against the Toronto Raptors. [118] In addition to breaking the previous franchise record of 71 set by Elgin Baylor, Bryant's 81-point game was the second-highest point total in NBA history, surpassed only by Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962. [119] Whereas Chamberlain was fed repeatedly by teammates for inside shots in a blowout win, Bryant created his own shot—mostly from the outside—in a game which the Lakers trailed at halftime by 14 and did not pull away until the fourth quarter. [120] [121] Chamberlain, playing in an era when the games were paced faster and scoring opportunities were more plentiful, [121] [122] accounted for 59 percent of his team's points in Philadelphia's 169–147 win, compared to Bryant scoring 66 percent of the Lakers' 122 points. [123] [124] In that same month, Bryant also became the first player since 1964 to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games, joining Chamberlain and Baylor as the only players to do so. [125] For the month of January, Bryant averaged 43.4 points per game, [126] the eighth highest single month scoring average in NBA history and highest for any player other than Chamberlain. [127] By the end of the 2005–06 season, Bryant set Lakers single-season franchise records for most 40-point games (27) and most points scored (2,832). [128] He won the league's scoring title for the first time by averaging 35.4 points per game, becoming just the fifth player in league history to average at least 35 in a season. [b] Bryant finished in fourth place in the voting for the 2006 NBA Most Valuable Player Award but received 22 first place votes—second only to winner Steve Nash. [131]

Later in the season, it was reported that Bryant would change his jersey number from 8 to 24 at the start of the 2006–07 season. Bryant's first high school number was 24 before he switched to 33. [132] [133] After the Lakers' season ended, Bryant said on TNT that he wanted 24 as a rookie, but it was unavailable as it was worn by George McCloud, as was 33, retired with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant wore 143 at the Adidas ABCD camp and chose 8 by adding those numbers. [133] In the first round of the playoffs, the Lakers played well enough to reach a 3–1 series lead over the Phoenix Suns, culminating with Bryant's overtime-forcing and game-winning shots in Game 4. They came within six seconds of eliminating the second-seeded Suns in Game 6, however, they lost that game 126–118 in overtime. [134] Despite Bryant's 27.9 points per game in the series, the Lakers broke down and ultimately fell to the Suns in seven games. [134] After scoring 50 points on 20 of 35 shooting in the Game 6 loss, Bryant was criticized for only taking three shots in the second half of the 121–90 Game 7 loss to Phoenix. [135] [136]

During the 2006–07 season, Bryant was selected to his ninth All-Star Game appearance, and on February 18, he logged 31 points, 6 assists, and 6 steals, earning his second career All-Star Game MVP trophy. [137] Over the course of the season, Bryant became involved in a number of on-court incidents. On January 28 while attempting to draw contact on a potential game-winning jump shot, he flailed his arm, striking San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginóbili in the face with his elbow. [138] Following a league review, Bryant was suspended for the subsequent game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. The basis given for the suspension was that Bryant had performed an "unnatural motion" in swinging his arm backward. [139] Later, on March 6, he seemed to repeat the motion, this time striking Minnesota Timberwolves guard Marko Jarić. [138] On March 7, the NBA handed Bryant his second one-game suspension. [140] In his first game back on March 9, he elbowed Kyle Korver in the face which was retroactively re-classified as a Type 1 flagrant foul. [138]

On March 16, Bryant scored a season-high 65 points in a home game against the Portland Trail Blazers, which helped end the Lakers 7-game losing streak. This was the second-best scoring performance of his 11-year career. [141] The following game, Bryant recorded 50 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves, [142] after which he scored 60 points in a road win against the Memphis Grizzlies—becoming the second Laker to score three straight 50-plus point games, a feat not seen since Jordan last did it in 1987. [143] The only other Laker to do so was Baylor, who also scored 50+ in three consecutive contests in December 1962. [143] In the following day, in a game against the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, Bryant scored 50 points, making him the second player in NBA history to have four straight 50-point games behind Chamberlain, who achieved it twice with streaks of five and seven. [144] Bryant finished the year with a total of ten 50-plus point games, surpassed only by Chamberlain. [c] Bryant also won his second straight scoring title that season. [145] Throughout the 2006–07 season, his jersey became the top selling NBA jersey in the United States and China. [146] A number of journalists have attributed the improved sales to Bryant's new number, as well as his continuing All-Star performance on the court. [147] [148] In the 2007 NBA playoffs, the Lakers were once again eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns, 4–1. [149]

Back on top (2007–2010)

On May 27, 2007, ESPN reported that Bryant stated that he wanted to be traded if Jerry West did not return to the team with full authority. [150] Bryant later confirmed his desire for West's return to the franchise but denied stating that he would want to be traded if that did not take place. [151] However, three days later, on Stephen A. Smith's radio program, Bryant expressed anger over a Lakers "insider" who claimed that Bryant was responsible for Shaquille O'Neal's departure from the team, and publicly stated, "I want to be traded." [152] Three hours after making that statement, Bryant stated in another interview that after having a conversation with head coach Jackson, he had reconsidered his decision and backed off his trade request. [153] Bryant was later shown in an infamous amateur video saying that center Andrew Bynum should have been traded for All-Star Jason Kidd. [154] [155]

On December 23, 2007, Bryant became the youngest player (29 years, 122 days) to reach 20,000 points, in a game against the New York Knicks, in Madison Square Garden, after scoring 39 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 8 assists. [156] [157] This record has since been broken by LeBron James. On March 28, Bryant scored a season-high 53 points to go with 10 rebounds in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. [158]

Despite an injury to his shooting hand's small finger, described as "a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament, an avulsion fracture, and a volar plate injury at the MCP joint" that occurred in a game on February 5, 2008, Bryant played all 82 games of the regular season instead of opting for surgery. Regarding his injury, he stated, "I would prefer to delay any surgical procedure until after our Lakers season, and this summer's Olympic Games. But, this is an injury that myself [sic] and the Lakers' medical staff will just have to continue to monitor on a day-to-day basis." [159]

Aided by the trade for All-Star Pau Gasol, Bryant led his team to a West-leading 57–25 record. The Lakers swept the Nuggets in the first round and on May 6, 2008, and Bryant was officially announced as the league MVP. [160] He said, "It's been a long ride. I'm very proud to represent this organization, to represent this city." [161] West, who was responsible for bringing Bryant to the Lakers, was on hand at the press conference to observe Bryant receive his MVP trophy from NBA commissioner David Stern. Stern stated, "Kobe deserved it. He's had just another great season. Doesn't surprise me one bit." [162] In addition to winning his MVP award, Bryant was the only unanimous selection to the All-NBA team on May 8, 2008, for the third straight season and sixth time in his career. [163] He would then headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team with Kevin Garnett, receiving 52 points overall including 24 first-place nods, earning his eighth selection. [164]

The Lakers concluded the 2007–08 regular season with a 57–25 record, finishing first in the Western Conference and setting up themselves for a first-round contest against the Nuggets. In Game 1, Bryant, who said he made himself a decoy through most of the game, scored 18 of his 32 points in the final eight minutes to keep Los Angeles safely ahead. [165] That made Denver the first 50-win team to be swept out of the first round of the playoffs since the Memphis Grizzlies fell in four games to the San Antonio Spurs in 2004. [166] In the first game of the next round, against the Jazz, Bryant scored 38 points as the Lakers beat the Jazz in Game 1. [167] The Lakers won the next game as well, but dropped Games 3 and 4, even with Bryant putting up 33.5 points per game. [168] The Lakers then won the next two games to win the semifinals. [168] This set up a Western Conference Finals berth against the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers defeated the Spurs in five games, sending themselves to the NBA Finals, against the Boston Celtics. This marked the fifth time in Bryant's career, and the first time without O'Neal, that he made the NBA Finals. [169] The Lakers then lost to the Boston Celtics in six games. [170]

In early September 2008, Bryant decided not to have surgery to repair his right pinkie. [171] In the 2008–09 season, the Lakers opened the campaign by winning their first seven games. [172] Bryant led the team to tie the franchise record for most wins to start the season going 17–2, [173] and by the middle of December they compiled a 21–3 record. He was selected to his 11th consecutive All-Star Game as a starter, [174] and was named the Western Conference Player of the Month for December and January in addition to being named Western Conference Player of the week three times. [175] In a game against the Knicks on February 2, 2009, Bryant scored 61 points, setting a record for the most points scored at Madison Square Garden. [176] During the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, Bryant tallied 27 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals and was awarded All-Star Game co-MVP with former teammate O'Neal. [177] The Lakers finished the regular season with the best record in the West (65–17). Bryant was runner-up in the MVP voting behind LeBron James, [178] and was selected to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team for the seventh time in his career.

In the playoffs, the Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz in five games and the Houston Rockets in seven games in the opening two rounds. By finishing off the Denver Nuggets in the Conference Finals in six games, the Lakers earned their second straight trip to the NBA Finals. The Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in five games. Bryant was awarded his first NBA Finals MVP trophy upon winning his fourth championship, [179] achieving series averages of 32.4 points, 7.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks. [180] He became the first player since West in the 1969 NBA Finals to average at least 32.4 points and 7.4 assists for a Finals series [181] and the first since Jordan to average 30 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists for a title-winning team in the Finals. [182]

During the 2009–10 season, Bryant made six game-winning shots including a buzzer-beating, one-legged 3-pointer against the Miami Heat on December 4, 2009. [183] Bryant considered the shot "one of the luckiest he has made". [183] A week later, Bryant suffered an avulsion fracture in his right index finger in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. [184] Despite the injury, Bryant elected to continue playing, rather than take any time off to rest the injury. [184] Five days after his finger injury, he made another game-winning shot, after missing on an opportunity in regulation, this time against the Milwaukee Bucks in an overtime game. [185] Bryant also became the youngest player (31 years, 151 days) to reach 25,000 points in his career during the season, surpassing Chamberlain. [186] He continued his dominant clutch plays making yet another game-winning three-pointer against the Sacramento Kings, [187] and what would be the game-winning field goal against the Boston Celtics. [188] The following day, he surpassed West to become the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. [189] After being sidelined for five games by an ankle injury, Bryant made his return and made another clutch three-pointer to give the Lakers a one-point lead with four seconds remaining against the Memphis Grizzlies. [190] Two weeks later, he made his sixth game-winning shot of the season, against the Toronto Raptors. [191]

On April 2, 2010, Bryant signed a three-year contract extension worth $87 million. [192] Bryant finished the regular season missing four of the final five games, due to injuries to his knee and finger. Bryant suffered multiple injuries throughout the season and as a result, missed nine games. The Lakers began the playoffs as the number one seed in the Western Conference against the Oklahoma City Thunder, [193] eventually defeating them in six games. [194] The Lakers swept the Utah Jazz in the second round [195] and advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they faced the Phoenix Suns. In Game 2, Bryant finished the game with 13 assists, setting a new playoff career-high it was the most assists by a Laker in the playoffs since Magic Johnson had 13 in 1996. [196] The Lakers went on to win the series in six games capturing the Western Conference Championship and advancing to the NBA Finals for a third straight season. [197] In a rematch against the 2008 Champion Boston Celtics, Bryant, despite shooting 6 for 24 from the field, led the Lakers back from a 13-point third-quarter deficit in Game 7 to win the championship he scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 15 rebounds. Bryant won his fifth championship and earned his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP award. [198] This marked the first time the Lakers won a Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. [199] Bryant said that this was the most satisfying of all of his five championships. [200]

Chasing a sixth championship (2010–2013)

Bryant wanted a sixth championship to match Jordan's total. [201] The Lakers started the 2010–11 season by winning their first eight games. [202] In his ninth game of the season, playing against the Denver Nuggets, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 26,000 career points. [203] Bryant also recorded his first triple-double since January 21, 2009. [204] On January 30 against the Celtics, he became the youngest player to score 27,000 points. [205] On February 1, 2011, Bryant became one of seven players with at least 25,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, and 5,000 assists. [206] In Boston on February 10, Bryant scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half as the Lakers rallied from an early 15-point deficit for a 92–86 win over the Celtics. [207] It was the Lakers' first victory of the season against one of the league's top four teams, as they entered the game 0–5 in previous matchups and had been outscored by an average of 11 points. [208] Bryant, selected to his 13th straight All-Star game after becoming the leading vote-getter, had 37 points, 14 rebounds, and three steals in the 2011 All-Star Game and won his fourth All-Star MVP, tying Hall of Famer Bob Pettit for the most All-Star MVP awards. [209] [210] During the season, Bryant moved from 12th to 6th place on the NBA all-time career scoring list, passing John Havlicek, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes, and Moses Malone. [211] Bryant finished the season averaging less than 20 shots a game, his fewest since the 2003–04 season. [212]

On April 13, 2011, the NBA fined Bryant $100,000 for directing a gay slur at referee Bennie Adams in frustration in the previous day's game. [213] [214] [215] The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation praised the NBA's decision to fine Bryant, and the Human Rights Campaign said that Bryant's language was a "disgrace" and "distasteful". Bryant stated that he was open to discussing the matter with gay rights groups and wanted to appeal his fine. [216] [217] [218] He later apologized for the use of the word. [219] [220] Bryant and other Lakers appeared in a Lakers public service announcement denouncing his behavior. [221] The team's quest for another three-peat was ended when they were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs. [222]

Bryant received experimental platelet-rich plasma therapy called Orthokine in Germany to treat the pain on his left knee and ankle, [223] [224] and Mike Brown replaced the retired Jackson as coach of the Lakers in the off-season. Bryant began the season playing with an injured wrist. [225] On January 10, 2012, Bryant scored 48 points against the Suns. "Not bad for the seventh-best player in the league", said Bryant, referring to a preseason ESPN ranking of the NBA's top players. [226] He went on to score 40, 42, and 42 in his next three games. [227] It was the sixth time in his career he scored 40 or more points in four straight games, a feat exceeded only by Chamberlain (19 times). [228] At the 2012 NBA All-Star Game, Bryant scored 27 points to pass Jordan as the career scoring leader in the All-Star Game. [229] He also suffered a broken nose and a concussion in the third quarter of the All-Star Game after a hard foul from Dwyane Wade. [230] In April, Bryant missed seven games with a bruised left shin. [231] He returned three games before the end of the regular season. He sat out season finale against Sacramento, foregoing the chase for a possible third NBA scoring title, having needed 38 points to surpass Kevin Durant. [232] The Lakers were knocked out of the playoffs by Durant and Oklahoma City in the second round of the playoffs, losing in five games. [233]

The Lakers in 2012–13 acquired center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash. On November 2, 2012, Bryant scored 40 points with two steals, and he passed Magic Johnson (1,724) as the Lakers career leader in steals. However, the Lakers lost the game to the Clippers and started the season 0–3 for the first time in 34 years and just the fourth time in franchise history. [234] After starting the season 1–4, coach Brown was fired. [235] He was replaced by Mike D'Antoni, who Bryant knew as a child when Bryant's father was playing in Italy and D'Antoni was also a star player there. Bryant had grown close with D'Antoni during their time with Team USA. [236] [237] On December 5 against New Orleans, Bryant became the youngest player (34 years and 104 days) in league history to score 30,000 points, joining Hall of Famers Chamberlain, Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Karl Malone as one of five players to reach that milestone. [238] On December 18, in a 101–100 win over the Charlotte Bobcats, Bryant scored 30+ points in his seventh consecutive game, the longest streak by an NBA player after turning 34 years old it was the fourth-longest such streak in his career. [239] His streak would be snapped at 10 on December 28 in a 104–87 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, when he scored 27 points, sitting out the whole fourth quarter. [240] In a move to improve the team's defense, D'Antoni began having Bryant guard the opponent's best perimeter player Bryant was the primary defender on the Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving, who was held to 15 points. [241] [242] Bryant acknowledged he was a more focused defender when he had a challenging defensive assignment as opposed to when he played off the ball against weaker players. [242] [243] His defense disrupted opponents and freed Nash from unfavorable matchups. [244]

Bryant was leading the league in scoring through much of the first 42 games. [245] With a disappointing 17–25 start to the season, [246] D'Antoni had Bryant became the primary facilitator on offense and Nash was moved off the ball and became more of a spot-up shooter. [247] [248] [249] In the next three games, Bryant had at least 10 assists in three wins with a three-game total of 39 assists, the most in his career. He missed a triple-double in each game with nine rebounds twice and eight in the other. [250] [251] In two crucial wins in March, he scored at least 40 points and had at least 10 assists in back-to-back games, becoming the first Laker to accomplish the feat since West in 1970. [252] [253]

With the Lakers fighting to secure the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference, coupled with injuries on the team, Bryant began playing almost all 48 minutes each game. [254] On April 10, 2013, Bryant became the first player in NBA history to get 47 points, eight rebounds, five assists, four blocks, and three steals in an NBA game. On April 12, Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon against the Golden State Warriors, ending his season. His injury came while he was playing seven consecutive quarters and at least 40 minutes for seven consecutive games. The 34-year-old Bryant was averaging his most minutes (38.6) in six years, and only Portland rookie Damian Lillard was averaging more minutes. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had spoken to Bryant about his extensive playing time 10 days earlier, but Bryant insisted the minutes needed to continue given the Lakers' playoff push. [255] Bryant had surgery on April 13 to repair the tear, and it was estimated he would miss six to nine months. [256] He ended the season with his customary numbers scoring an average of 27.3 points, 46.3 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds, and 6 assists. However, The New York Times called his leading of the Lakers back into playoff contention "perhaps some of the finest work of his career." [257] Eight times he reached 40 points during the season, and eleven times he had 10 or more assists in his role as distributor, dubbed "Magic Mamba" after the passing skills of Magic Johnson. Bryant's assists were the second-highest of his career and his field goal percentage was its highest since 2008–09. [253] The Lakers finished the season at 45–37, good for seventh in the West. Playing without Bryant, the Lakers were swept in four games by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. [258]

Injury-plagued years (2013–2015)

Bryant resumed practicing in November 2013, after the 2013–2014 season had already begun. On November 25, he signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers at an estimated value of $48.5 million. [259] He remained the league's highest-paid player, although he accepted a discounted deal he had been eligible to receive an extension starting at $32 million per year. [260] Bryant's contract became a polarizing topic, with detractors arguing that stars should take less money to allow their team more financial freedom, while supporters countered that the NBA's biggest stars were being paid less than their true value. [261] [262] [263] Bryant resumed playing on December 8 after missing the season's first 19 games. On December 17, Bryant matched his season high of 21 points in a 96–92 win over Memphis, but he suffered a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee that was expected to sideline him for six weeks. [264] He had played six games since returning from his Achilles injury, which included time at point guard after injuries to Nash, Steve Blake, and Jordan Farmar. [265] Bryant was averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.3 rebounds. [266] Despite being sidelined, he was voted by fans to start in his 16th All-Star game. Bryant did not feel he was deserving of the selection, and some likened it to a career achievement award for his past performance. [267] However, he missed playing in the game, still hampered by his knee. [268] On March 12, 2014, the Lakers ruled Bryant out for the remainder of the season, citing his need for more rehab and the limited time remaining in the season. At the time, the team was 22–42 and tied for the worst record in the Western Conference. The Lakers finished 27–55 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005. [266]

Bryant returned for the 2014–15 season, his 19th season with the Lakers, [269] who had replaced D'Antoni with Bryant's former Lakers teammate, Byron Scott. [270] On November 30, 2014, in a 129–122 overtime victory against the Toronto Raptors, Bryant recorded his 20th career triple-double with 31 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. [271] At age 36, he became the oldest NBA player to achieve 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in a game. [d] On December 14, Bryant became the NBA's third all-time leading scorer, passing Jordan (32,292) in a 100–94 win against Minnesota. [273] He played in the first 27 games of the season, [274] averaging team-highs with 26.4 points and 35.4 minutes per game while leading the league with 22.4 shots per game. [275] [276] However, Scott held him out for three straight games to rest after one of his worst performances of the season, when Bryant committed nine turnovers and scored 25 points on just 8-for-30 shooting in a 108–101 loss to Sacramento. [275] [277] He was suffering from soreness in his knees, feet, back, and Achilles tendons and Scott planned to reduce his workload going forward. [278] [279] Three times Bryant had exceeded 40 minutes in a game, [280] and the coach blamed himself for overloading him after he started the season in such great shape. [281] For the season, Bryant had been shooting just 37 percent from the field, and the team's record was only 8–19. [274] [276] In his second game back after resting, he had 23 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds in a 111–103 win over Denver, and became just the third player in league history to record multiple triple-doubles in a season at age 36 or older. [e] On January 21, 2015, Bryant suffered a rotator cuff tear in his right shoulder while driving baseline for a two-handed dunk against the New Orleans Pelicans. [283] Though he was right-handed, he returned to play in the game and ran the offense while shooting, dribbling, and passing almost exclusively with his left hand. [284] Prior to the injury, Bryant had been rested in 8 of 16 games. [280] He underwent season-ending surgery for the injury, finishing the season averaging 22.3 points but shooting a career-low 37.3 percent, well below his 45.4 percent career mark to start the season. [285] He was expected to be sidelined for nine months with a return targeted toward the start of the 2015–16 season. [286] [287] The Lakers finished the season with a record of 21–61, surpassing the franchise record for most losses in a season that they had set the previous year. [288]

Final season (2015–2016)

After recovering to play in the 2015–16 preseason, [289] Bryant suffered a calf injury and missed the final two weeks of exhibition games. [290] However, he played in the season opener to begin his 20th season with the Lakers, surpassing John Stockton's league record of 19 for the most seasons with the same team. [291] On November 24, 2015, the Lakers fell to 2–12 after losing 111–77 to the Warriors. Bryant scored just four points in 25 minutes on 1-for-14 shooting, matching the worst-shooting game of his career in which he attempted at least five shots. [292] [293] On December 1, 2015, Bryant played his last game against his hometown team, the Philadelphia 76ers, where the Lakers lost 103–91. [294]

On November 29, 2015, Bryant announced via The Players' Tribune that he would be retiring at the end of the season. In his poem titled "Dear Basketball", Bryant wrote that he fell in love with the game at age six: "A love so deep I gave you my all/From my mind & body/To my spirit & soul." The 2015–16 season "is all I have left to give./My heart can take the pounding/My mind can handle the grind/But my body knows it's time to say goodbye./And that's OK./I'm ready to let you go." [295] In a letter distributed to Lakers' fans before that evening's game against the Indiana Pacers, Bryant wrote, "What you've done for me is far greater than anything I've done for you. . My love for this city, this team and for each of you will never fade. Thank you for this incredible journey." [295]

At the time of his announcement, he was second on the team in minutes (30.8) behind Jordan Clarkson and leading the team with 16.7 field goal attempts per game, while averaging just 15.7 points and shooting a career-low 31.5 percent. [293] [296] His free throw attempts had dropped from his career average, and his game had become over-reliant on pump fakes and long-range shots, making a league-worst 19.5 percent from three-point range while attempting seven a game, almost double his career average. [296] [297] In his press conference after the announcement, he acknowledged his declining skills. "Even though I play like shit, I've worked really, really hard not to play like crap and I do everything I possibly can. And I feel good about that", he said. [298] [299]

Bryant requested that opposing teams on the road not hold any on-court ceremonies in his honor or present him any gifts in public. [300] Prior to announcing his retirement, he had been steadfast about not wanting the fuss of a staged farewell tour, preferring to hear boos instead of cheers. [301] [302] Still, he was honored around the league with video tributes and fan ovations, [300] including arenas that historically jeered him such as TD Garden in Boston, Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, and Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. [303] [304] [305] Previously, Bryant was respected but not beloved, [306] [307] and he was astonished at the cheers he was now receiving. [307]

On February 3, Bryant made seven three-pointers and scored a then season-high 38 points, including 14 of the team's 18 points in the last 5:02 of the game, for a 119–115 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The win ended a 10-game losing streak, and the Lakers averted establishing the longest losing streak in franchise history. [308] He became just the fourth NBA player over 37 years old to log at least 35 points, five rebounds, and five assists in a game. [f] Bryant was the leading overall vote-getter for the 2016 All-Star Game with 1.9 million votes, ahead of Stephen Curry's 1.6 million. Having moved to small forward that season, Bryant was selected as a frontcourt starter for the first time. [309] Playing in his first All-Star game since 2013, Bryant had 10 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. [310] West teammates offered to feed him the ball in an attempt to get him another All-Star MVP, but he declined. [310] [311]

In the season finale on April 13, Bryant scored an NBA season-high 60 points against Utah in his last NBA game, outscoring the entire Jazz team 23–21 in the fourth quarter, in the Lakers' 101–96 victory. [312] [313] He became the oldest player to score 60 or more points in a game at 37 years and 234 days old. [314] The Lakers finished the season with a 17–65 record, their worst record in franchise history. [315]

Bryant declined to play in the 2000 Olympics because he was getting married in the off-season. [316] He also decided not to play in the 2002 FIBA World Championship. [317] Bryant was originally selected for the FIBA Americas Championship in 2003 but withdrew after undergoing arthroscopic shoulder and knee surgeries. [318] In the following summer, he had to withdraw from the Olympic team because of his sexual assault case. [319] Along with LeBron James, he was one of the first two players to be publicly named to the 2006–2008 U.S. preliminary roster in 2006 by Jerry Colangelo. [320] However, he was once again sidelined after knee surgery and did not participate in the 2006 FIBA World Championship. [321]

Bryant's United States national team career finally began in 2007. He was a member of the 2007 USA Men's Senior National Team and USA FIBA Americas Championship Team that finished 10–0, won gold and qualified the United States men for the 2008 Olympics. He started in all 10 of the USA's FIBA Americas Championship games. Bryant averaged 15.3 points, 2.9 assists, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game in the tournament. [322]

On June 23, 2008, he was named to the USA Men's Senior National Team for the 2008 Summer Olympics. [323] This was his first time going to the Olympics. Bryant scored 20 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, along with six assists, as Team USA defeated Spain 118–107 in the gold medal game on August 24, 2008, for its first gold medal in a worldwide competition since the 2000 Olympics. [324] He averaged 15.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while shooting .462 from the field in eight Olympic contests. [ citation needed ]

Bryant rejoined the national team for the 2012 Summer Olympics. [325] After winning another gold medal, Bryant decided to retire from the team. [326] He finished his national team career with a record of 26-0 across three tournaments, winning a gold medal each time. [327]

Bryant primarily played as a shooting guard. He was listed at 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) and 212 pounds (96 kg), [328] He was often cited as one of the most dangerous scorers in the NBA. [329] [330] Bryant has drawn frequent comparisons to Jordan, after whom he modeled his playing style. [331] [332] [333] Like Jordan, he became most known for shooting a fall-away jump shot. [334] Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated described another of Bryant's most famous moves as the "jab step-and-pause" in which Bryant jabbed his non-pivot foot forward to let the defender relax but instead of bringing the jab foot back, he pushed off of it and drove around his opponent to get to the basket. [335]

Bryant established a reputation for taking shots in the closing moments of tight games, [336] [337] [338] even when he was double or triple-teamed, [339] and was noted as one of the premier closers in the NBA. [339] [340] In a 2012 annual survey of NBA general managers, Bryant was selected for the 10th consecutive season as the player general managers would want to take a clutch shot with a game on the line. [341] [342] Bryant enjoyed being the villain, and reveled in being booed and then silencing the crowd with his play. [87] [307] [343] His ability to make difficult shots has also drawn criticism of his shot selection. [333] [344] Throughout his career, Bryant was disparaged for being a selfish, high-volume shooter [342] [345] [346] he missed more field goal attempts in his career than any other player in NBA history. [g] Phil Jackson, who coached Bryant for many years, stated that Bryant "tends to force the action, especially when the game isn't going his way. When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns." [348] According to Bryant, "I would go 0 for 30 before I would go 0 for 9 0 for 9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game." [120]

In addition to his abilities on offense, Bryant also established himself as a standout defensive player. [349] Bryant rarely drew charges when he played defense, which he believed spared his body and contributed to his longevity. [350] Some critics have suggested that Bryant's defensive accolades in his later years were based more on his reputation than his actual play. [351] [352] [353]

Bryant was also lauded for his relentless work ethic, dubbed the "Mamba mentality". [354] [355] Throughout his first 16 seasons, his body was resilient, [286] and he exhibited a high pain threshold while often playing through injuries. [356] [357] A fierce competitor, Bryant made opponents and teammates alike the objects of his scorn. [358] [359] Many players have considered him difficult to play with because of his high level of commitment and performance. [360] [361] [362] According to sportswriter Mark Heisler of Forbes, "circa 2004–2007, Kobe was the most alienated superstar the NBA had ever seen." [363] After the departure of Shaquille O'Neal, he led the Lakers to two NBA championships during this period, he became more of a mentor to his teammates than he had been earlier in his career. [360] [363] Bryant's longtime head coach Phil Jackson noted that the biggest difference between his first and second stints in coaching the Lakers was if Bryant talked to teammates in his earlier years with the Lakers, it was usually, "Give me the damn ball." During the latter period, "[Bryant] embraced the team and his teammates, calling them up when we were on the road and inviting them out to dinner. It was as if the other players were now his partners, not his personal spear-carriers." [364]

Bryant was called "one of the greatest players in the history of our game" by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, [366] and The New York Times wrote that he had "one of the most decorated careers in the history of the sport." [366] Reuters called him "arguably the best player of his generation", [339] while both Sporting News and TNT named him their NBA player of the decade for the 2000s. [367] [368] In 2008 and again in 2016, ESPN ranked him the second-greatest shooting guard of all time after Jordan. [344] [369] Players including Kevin Durant, [370] Dirk Nowitzki, [371] Dwyane Wade, [306] and Derrick Rose called Bryant their generation's version of Jordan. [372] [373] The Press-Enterprise described Bryant as "maybe the greatest Laker in the organization's history". [374] He was the Lakers' all-time leading scorer, and his five titles are tied for the most in franchise history. [375] Both numbers he wore during his career, 8 and 24, were retired by the Lakers on December 18, 2017. [376] In his first year of eligibility, Bryant was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, weeks after his death, [377] before being elected a couple of months later in April 2020. [378] His formal induction was delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [379]

With career averages of 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game, [328] Bryant was considered one of the most complete players in NBA history. [380] He is the fourth-leading scorer in league history with 33,643 points. [381] He was the first player in NBA history to have at least 30,000 career points and 6,000 career assists, [365] and was one of only four players with 25,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, and 6,000 assists. [382] Bryant led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. [13] His 81-point performance against Toronto in 2006 was the second-highest in NBA history, [383] behind only Chamberlain's 100. He scored at least 50 points 24 times in his career, which is third in league history behind Jordan (31) and Chamberlain (118) [296] six times Bryant scored at least 60. [384] He was just the third player in NBA history to average 40 points in a calendar month, which he accomplished four times. [h] Bryant was voted the league MVP in 2008 and led his team to the 2008 NBA Finals as the first seed in the Western Conference. [385] In the 2008 Summer Olympics, he won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. men's basketball team, occasionally referred to as "The Redeem Team". [386] He won another gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He led the Lakers to two more championships in 2009 and 2010, winning the Finals MVP award on both occasions.

Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, which ranks second behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 19. [387] He was chosen a record 18 straight times, each time as a starter. [284] [384] [387] On four occasions (2003, 2011, 2013, 2016) he was the leading vote-getter. [387] Four times Bryant was named the All-Star MVP, a record he shares with Bob Pettit. [384] He was selected to the All-NBA Team on 15 occasions, tied for the most with Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Duncan, [388] and his 11 first-team honors are tied for the second-most with Karl Malone. [389] Bryant was also a 12-time All-Defensive Team selection, trailing only Duncan's 15, and nine times he was named to the All-Defensive First Team, tied with Jordan, Garnett, and Gary Payton for the most all time. [375] [384] He was the first guard to play 20 seasons in the NBA. [375] He also won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1997 and was its youngest winner. [390] In his career, Bryant scored 40-plus points in 121 games, and 21 times he recorded a triple-double. [296]

During the 2020 NBA playoffs, the Lakers' players wore 'Black Mamba' jerseys in honor of Bryant. Designed by Bryant himself, the black jersey features a snakeskin pattern with yellow accents and 16 stars representing the team's 16 championships at the time. In Game 2 win against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals, Anthony Davis made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and yelled Bryant's name, while the team was wearing the 'Black Mamba' jerseys. [391] Following a Game 2 win in the 2020 NBA Finals, LeBron James was asked about the jerseys and had this to say: "It's always special to represent someone that meant so much, not only to the game but also to the Lakers organization for 20-plus years. For us to honor him, being on the floor, this is what it's all about." [392]

Legend
GP Games played GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
FG% Field goal percentage 3P% 3-point field goal percentage FT% Free throw percentage
RPG Rebounds per game APG Assists per game SPG Steals per game
BPG Blocks per game PPG Points per game Bold Career high
Won an NBA championship * Led the league

Regular season

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1996–97 L.A. Lakers 71 6 15.5 .417 .375 .819 1.9 1.3 .7 .3 7.6
1997–98 L.A. Lakers 79 1 26.0 .428 .341 .794 3.1 2.5 .9 .5 15.4
1998–99 L.A. Lakers 50* 50* 37.9 .465 .267 .839 5.3 3.8 1.4 1.0 19.9
1999–00† L.A. Lakers 66 62 38.2 .468 .319 .821 6.3 4.9 1.6 .9 22.5
2000–01† L.A. Lakers 68 68 40.9 .464 .305 .853 5.9 5.0 1.7 .6 28.5
2001–02† L.A. Lakers 80 80 38.3 .469 .250 .829 5.5 5.5 1.5 .4 25.2
2002–03 L.A. Lakers 82 82* 41.5 .451 .383 .843 6.9 5.9 2.2 .8 30.0
2003–04 L.A. Lakers 65 64 37.6 .438 .327 .852 5.5 5.1 1.7 .4 24.0
2004–05 L.A. Lakers 66 66 40.7 .433 .339 .816 5.9 6.0 1.3 .8 27.6
2005–06 L.A. Lakers 80 80 41.0 .450 .347 .850 5.3 4.5 1.8 .4 35.4*
2006–07 L.A. Lakers 77 77 40.8 .463 .344 .868 5.7 5.4 1.4 .5 31.6*
2007–08 L.A. Lakers 82* 82* 38.9 .459 .361 .840 6.3 5.4 1.8 .5 28.3
2008–09† L.A. Lakers 82* 82* 36.1 .467 .351 .856 5.2 4.9 1.5 .5 26.8
2009–10† L.A. Lakers 73 73 38.8 .456 .329 .811 5.4 5.0 1.5 .3 27.0
2010–11 L.A. Lakers 82 82* 33.9 .451 .323 .828 5.1 4.7 1.2 .1 25.3
2011–12 L.A. Lakers 58 58 38.5 .430 .303 .845 5.4 4.6 1.2 .3 27.9
2012–13 L.A. Lakers 78 78 38.6 .463 .324 .839 5.6 6.0 1.4 .3 27.3
2013–14 L.A. Lakers 6 6 29.5 .425 .188 .857 4.3 6.3 1.2 .2 13.8
2014–15 L.A. Lakers 35 35 34.5 .373 .293 .813 5.7 5.6 1.3 .2 22.3
2015–16 L.A. Lakers 66 66 28.2 .358 .285 .826 3.7 2.8 .9 .2 17.6
Career [110] 1,346 1,198 36.1 .447 .329 .837 5.2 4.7 1.4 .5 25.0
All-Star [110] 15 15 27.6 .500 .324 .789 5.0 4.7 2.5 .4 19.3

Playoffs

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1997 L.A. Lakers 9 0 14.8 .382 .261 .867 1.2 1.2 .3 .2 8.2
1998 L.A. Lakers 11 0 20.0 .408 .214 .689 1.9 1.5 .3 .7 8.7
1999 L.A. Lakers 8 8 39.4 .430 .348 .800 6.9 4.6 1.9 1.3 19.8
2000† L.A. Lakers 22 22 39.0 .442 .344 .754 4.5 4.4 1.5 1.5 21.1
2001† L.A. Lakers 16 16 43.4 .469 .324 .821 7.3 6.1 1.6 .8 29.4
2002† L.A. Lakers 19 19 43.8 .434 .379 .759 5.8 4.6 1.4 .9 26.6
2003 L.A. Lakers 12 12 44.3 .432 .403 .827 5.1 5.2 1.2 .1 32.1
2004 L.A. Lakers 22 22 44.2 .413 .247 .813 4.7 5.5 1.9 .3 24.5
2006 L.A. Lakers 7 7 44.9 .497 .400 .771 6.3 5.1 1.1 .4 27.9
2007 L.A. Lakers 5 5 43.0 .462 .357 .919 5.2 4.4 1.0 .4 32.8
2008 L.A. Lakers 21 21 41.1 .479 .302 .809 5.7 5.6 1.7 .4 30.1
2009† L.A. Lakers 23 23 40.8 .457 .349 .883 5.3 5.5 1.7 .9 30.2
2010† L.A. Lakers 23 23 40.1 .458 .374 .842 6.0 5.5 1.3 .7 29.2
2011 L.A. Lakers 10 10 35.4 .446 .293 .820 3.4 3.3 1.6 .3 22.8
2012 L.A. Lakers 12 12 39.7 .439 .283 .832 4.8 4.3 1.3 .2 30.0
Career [110] 220 200 39.3 .448 .331 .816 5.1 4.7 1.4 .6 25.6

Personal life

Bryant was the youngest of three children. He grew up with two older sisters, Sharia and Shaya, and had a close relationship with them until his death. [12] [393] [394]

In November 1999, 21-year-old Bryant met 17-year-old Vanessa Laine while she was working as a background dancer on the Tha Eastsidaz music video "G'd Up". [395] Bryant was in the building and working on his debut album. The two began dating and became engaged six months later in May 2000, [395] while Laine was still a senior at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California. To avoid media scrutiny, she finished high school through independent study. [395] According to Vanessa's cousin Laila Laine, there was no prenuptial agreement. Laila said Bryant "loved her too much for one". [396]

They married on April 18, 2001, at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point, California. [397] [398] The wedding was not attended by Bryant's parents, his two sisters, his longtime advisor and agent Arn Tellem, or his Laker teammates. Bryant's parents were opposed to the marriage for a number of reasons. Reportedly Bryant's parents had problems with him marrying so young, especially to a woman who was not African-American. [i] [395] This disagreement resulted in an estrangement period of over two years, which ended when the couple's first daughter was born. [400]

The Bryants' first daughter was born in January 2003. [401] The birth resulted in a reconciliation between Bryant and his parents. Due to an ectopic pregnancy, Vanessa suffered a miscarriage in the spring of 2005. Their second daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore (also referred to as "Gigi"), was born in May 2006. [402] On December 16, 2011, Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences, and the couple requested joint custody of their daughters. [403] [404] On January 11, 2013, Bryant and his wife both announced via social media that they had called off their divorce. [405] In early December 2016, Vanessa gave birth to their third daughter, [406] [407] [408] and in January 2019 the Bryants announced they were expecting a fourth daughter. [409] Their daughter was born in June 2019. [410] [411]

Bryant was a practicing Catholic. He said his faith and a priest helped him through difficult times, such as the period following his accusation of rape. A Catholic cantor said she was inspired by Bryant's faith, and the respect that he showed her. [15] [16] [17] [412] Bryant and his family were regular attendees at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach. Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, received the Eucharist together just hours before they died. [413] [414]

Bryant was multilingual. He was fluent in English, Italian and Spanish. [15] [415] [416] [417] [418] Bryant assigned himself the nickname of "Black Mamba", citing a desire for his basketball skills to mimic the eponymous snake's ability to "strike with 99% accuracy at maximum speed, in rapid succession." [419] [420] During the 2012–13 season, he began referring to himself as "vino" to describe how his play had been aging like a fine wine. [421] [422]

In January 2002, Bryant bought a Mediterranean-style house for $4 million, located on a cul-de-sac in Newport Coast, Newport Beach. [423] He sold the house in May 2015. [424]

In 2013, Bryant had a legal disagreement with an auction house over memorabilia from his early years that his mother had put up for auction. Bryant's mother received $450,000 from the auction house for the items, and contended Bryant had given her the rights to the items he had remaining in her home. However, Bryant's lawyers asked the auction house to return the items. [425] Before the scheduled trial, a settlement was reached allowing the auction house the sale of less than 10% of the items. Bryant's parents apologized to him for the misunderstanding in a written statement, and appreciated the financial support he had given them over the years. [426] [427] [428]

Bryant was a lifelong fan of his hometown NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles. [429] He was also a fan of soccer teams Barcelona, AC Milan, and Manchester City. [430] [431]

According to Forbes, Bryant's $680 million in career earnings was the most ever by a team athlete during their playing career. [54]

Sexual assault case

In the summer of 2003, the sheriff's office of Eagle, Colorado, arrested Bryant in connection with an investigation of a sexual assault complaint filed by a 19-year-old hotel employee. Bryant had checked into The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Eagle County in advance of undergoing knee surgery nearby. The accuser stated that Bryant raped her in his hotel room the night before Bryant was to have the procedure. Bryant admitted to an adulterous sexual encounter with his accuser but denied her sexual assault allegation. [432] [433]

The accusation tarnished Bryant's reputation, and the public's perception of him plummeted his endorsement contracts with McDonald's and Nutella were terminated. Sales for Bryant's replica jersey fell significantly. [434] In September 2004, the assault case was dropped by prosecutors after the accuser decided not to testify at the trial. Afterward, Bryant agreed to apologize to her for the incident, including his public mea culpa: "Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter." [435] [436] The accuser filed a separate lawsuit against Bryant, which the two sides settled privately. [437]

Endorsements

Before starting the 1996–97 season, Bryant signed a six-year contract with Adidas that was worth approximately $48 million. [438] [439] His first signature shoe was the Equipment KB 8. [440] Bryant's other, earlier endorsements included deals with The Coca-Cola Company to endorse their Sprite soft drink, appearing in advertisements for McDonald's, promoting Spalding's new NBA Infusion Ball, Upper Deck, Italian chocolate company Ferrero SpA's brand Nutella, Russell Corporation, [441] and appearing on his own series of video games by Nintendo. Many companies like McDonald's and Ferrero SpA terminated his contracts when rape allegations against him became public. [442] A notable exception was Nike, Inc., who had signed him to a five-year, $40–45 million contract just before the incident. [443] [444] However, they refused to use his image or market a new shoe of his for the year but eventually did start promoting Bryant once his image recovered two years later. [444] He has since resumed endorsement deals with The Coca-Cola Company, through their subsidiary Energy Brands, to promote their Vitamin Water brand of drinks. [445] Bryant was also the cover athlete for NBA '07: Featuring the Life Vol. 2 and appeared in commercials for the video games Guitar Hero World Tour (with Tony Hawk, Michael Phelps, and Alex Rodriguez) in 2008 and Call of Duty: Black Ops (alongside Jimmy Kimmel) in 2010. [446]

In a 2008 video promoting Nike's Hyperdunk shoes, Bryant appears to jump over a speeding Aston Martin. The stunt was considered to be fake, and the Los Angeles Times said a real stunt would probably be a violation of Bryant's Lakers contract. [447] After promoting Nike's Hyperdunk shoes, Bryant came out with the fourth edition of his signature line by Nike, the Zoom Kobe IV. In 2010 Nike launched another shoe, Nike Zoom Kobe V. [448] In 2009, Bryant signed a deal with Nubeo to market the "Black Mamba collection", a line of sports/luxury watches that range from $25,000 to $285,000. [449] On February 9, 2009, Bryant was featured on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. However, it was not for anything basketball related rather, it was about Bryant being a big fan of FC Barcelona. [450] CNN estimated Bryant's endorsement deals in 2007 to be worth $16 million a year. [451] In 2010, Bryant was ranked third behind Tiger Woods and Jordan in Forbes ' list of the world's highest-paid athletes with $48 million. [452]

On December 13, 2010, Bryant signed a two-year endorsement deal with Turkey's national airline, Turkish Airlines. The deal involved Bryant being in a promotional film to be aired in over 80 countries in addition to his being used in digital, print and billboard advertising. [453] [454] [455]

In September 2012, Bryant shot a commercial for Turkish Airlines with FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi. In the airline's latest commercial, the duo competes to win the attention of a young boy. [456] In 2013, Forbes listed Bryant the fifth highest paid sports star in the world behind Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James and Lionel Messi. [457]

Bryant appeared as the cover athlete for the following video games:

  • Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside[458]
  • NBA Courtside 2: Featuring Kobe Bryant[459]
  • NBA Courtside 2002[460]
  • NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant[461]
  • NBA '07: Featuring the Life Vol. 2[462]
  • NBA '09: The Inside[463]
  • NBA 2K10[464]
  • NBA 2K17 (Legend Edition Legend Edition Gold) [464]
  • NBA 2K21 (Mamba Forever Edition)

Bryant was also one of the global ambassadors of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China. [465]

Music

In high school, Bryant was a member of a rap group called CHEIZAW, named after the Chi Sah gang in the martial arts film Kid with the Golden Arm. The group was signed by Sony Entertainment, but the company's ultimate goal was to eliminate the group and have Bryant record on his own. The label wanted to capitalize on Bryant's youth and NBA fame. He performed at a 1997 concert by Sway & King Tech and recorded a verse for a remix of Brian McKnight's "Hold Me". Bryant even appeared on Lakers teammate O'Neal's Respect, starting the track "3 X's Dope", though Bryant's name was not listed on the credits. [21]

Sony pushed Bryant from his roots of underground hip hop into a more radio-friendly sound. His debut album, Visions, was scheduled to release in the spring of 2000. The first single, "K.O.B.E'", featured supermodel Tyra Banks singing the hook. The single debuted in January 2000, and was performed at NBA All-Star Weekend that month the song was not well received. Sony abandoned plans for the album, which was never released, and dropped Bryant later that year. The Sony president who originally signed Bryant had already left, and Bryant's other backers had mostly abandoned him. Afterward, Bryant co-founded an independent record label, Heads High Entertainment, but it folded within a year. [21] In 1999, Bryant appeared on a remix of "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child on the Maxi single version of the song. [466]

In 2011, Bryant was featured in Taiwanese singer Jay Chou's single "The Heaven and Earth Challenge" (天地一鬥, pronounced "Tian Di Yi Dou"). [467] The proceeds for downloads of both the single and ringtones were donated to impoverished schools for basketball facilities and equipment. [468] The music video of the single also features Bryant. The song was also used by Sprite in its 2011 marketing campaign in China. [469]

In 2009, American rapper Lil Wayne released a song called "Kobe Bryant". [470] Similarly, in 2010, American rapper Sho Baraka released a song called "Kobe Bryant On'em", which was featured on his album Lions and Liars. [471] In 2012, American rapper Chief Keef released a song paying tribute to Kobe Bryant called "Kobe". [472] [473] [474] It was featured on his debut studio album, Finally Rich, as a part of the deluxe edition. [475]

Film and television

Bryant made his acting debut in 1996, appearing in an episode of Moesha. He met the show's star, Brandy, earlier in the year at a Nike All-Star basketball game, and then a couple of months later in May 1996, Brandy was Bryant's date to his high school senior prom. [476] That same year, he guest starred as himself on an episode of Arli$ (episode: "What About the Fans?") and Sister, Sister (episode: "Kid-Napped"). In 1997, he appeared on an episode of Hang Time, this was followed by a guest appearance on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy series All That (1998). Bryant was also the first choice for the role of Jesus Shuttlesworth in Spike Lee's 1998 film He Got Game, but he turned down the role, saying "this summer is too big for me." [477]

Bryant was the subject of Spike Lee's 2009 documentary film Kobe Doin' Work, which chronicled Bryant during the 2007-08 NBA season. [478]

In 2018, Bryant became the first African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and the first former professional athlete to be nominated and to win an Academy Award in any category for his film Dear Basketball. [8] The film also won the Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject and a Sports Emmy Award. [479] The film was produced by Bryant's production company, Granity Studios. [480] In addition to future animation projects, he had been in talks with animator veteran Bruce Smith for the last six months before his death about starting his own animation studio. [481]

Beginning in 2018, Bryant wrote, produced and hosted the television series Detail, which aired for multiple seasons on ESPN and ESPN+. It featured his insights into the game of basketball and in-depth analyses of games and individual players. [482] [483] He also appeared on MTV's Ridiculousness in 2019. [484]

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Moesha Terry Hightower
1996 Arli$ Himself Episode: "What About the Fans?"
1996 Sister, Sister Episode: "Kid-Napped"
1997 Hang Time
1998 All That
2000 Bette
2009 Kobe Doin' Work
2010 Modern Family
2014 Nowitzki. The Perfect Shot
2015 Daddy's Home
2015 Kobe Bryant's Muse Also executive producer
2017 Dear Basketball Also writer and executive producer winner of Best Animated Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
2017 Musecage Also creator and writer produced by Granity Studios for ESPN and ESPN+
2018 Detail Also creator and writer 18 episodes as a host, 16 episodes as a writer produced by Granity Studios for ESPN and ESPN+
2019 Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story Documentary about Ron Artest for Showtime
2020 The Last Dance Episode: "V"

Philanthropy

Bryant was the official ambassador for After-School All-Stars (ASAS), an American non-profit organization that provides comprehensive after-school programs to children in thirteen US cities. [485] Bryant also started the Kobe Bryant China Fund which partnered with the Soong Ching Ling Foundation, a charity backed by the Chinese government. [486] The Kobe Bryant China Fund raises money within China earmarked for education and health programs. [486] On November 4, 2010, Bryant appeared alongside Zach Braff at the Call of Duty: Black Ops launch event at the Santa Monica Airport, where they presented a $1 million check to the Call of Duty Endowment, an Activision-founded nonprofit organization that helps veterans transition to civilian careers after their military service has ended. [446]

Together with his wife, Bryant founded the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (KVBFF). Its goals are "helping young people in need, encouraging the development of physical and social skills through sports and assisting the homeless". Bryant spoke of the injustice aimed at homeless people who are blamed for their situation, saying that homelessness should not be ignored or made a low priority. Bryant said he wanted more out of life than just a successful basketball career. [17]

Bryant and his wife Vanessa were founding donors of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, with Bryant also donating his uniform he that he wore in the 2008 NBA Finals, the year he was named the league MVP. [487] [488] During his lifetime, Bryant granted over two hundred requests for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. [487] [489]

Business ventures

Bryant established Kobe Inc. to own and grow brands in the sports industry. The initial investment was a 10% stake in the Bodyarmor SuperDrink company for $6 million in March 2014. The headquarters are in Newport Beach, California. [490] With The Coca-Cola Company purchasing a minority stake in the company in August 2018, the valuation of Bryant's stake rose to approximately $200 million. [491]

In 2013, Bryant launched a production company called Granity Studios, which developed different media, ranging from films to television shows and novels. [480]

On August 22, 2016, Bryant and his business partner Jeff Stibel launched Bryant-Stibel, a venture capital firm focused on different businesses including media, data, gaming, and technology, with $100 million in funding. [492] [493] In 2018, Bryant and Sports Academy launched Mamba Sports Academy, a joint athletic-training business venture. The academy established locations in Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach, California. [494]

Books

On October 23, 2018, Bryant's book The Mamba Mentality: How I Play, with photographs and afterword by Andrew D. Bernstein, an introduction by Phil Jackson, and a foreword by Pau Gasol, was published by MCD / Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The book looks back on his career with photos and his reflections. [495] [496]

At the time of his death, he was working with Brazilian author Paulo Coelho on a children's book aimed at inspiring underprivileged children. After Bryant's death, Coelho deleted the draft, saying in an interview that "it didn't make any sense to publish without him." He did not say how many pages had been written or whether the book had a title. [497]

Bryant also co-wrote/produced several young adult novels through Granity Studios: The Wizenard Series: Training Camp, Legacy and the Queen, and Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof. A fourth novel, The Wizenard Series: Season One, was released posthumously in March 2020. [498] The Wizarenard Series: Season One topped the New York Times middle-grade hardcover list. [499]

Accident

At 9:06 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on January 26, 2020, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, with nine people aboard: Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, six family friends, and the pilot Ara Zobayan. [500] [501] [502] [503] The helicopter was registered to the Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp., according to the California Secretary of State business database. [504] The group was traveling to Camarillo Airport in Ventura County for a basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks. [505]

Due to light rain and fog that morning, the Los Angeles Police Department helicopters [503] and most other air traffic were grounded. [506] The flight tracker showed that the helicopter circled above the L.A. Zoo due to heavy air traffic in the area. At 9:30 a.m., Zobayan contacted the Burbank Airport's control tower, [506] notifying the tower of the situation, and was told he was "flying too low" to be tracked by radar. [507] At that time, the helicopter experienced extreme fog and turned south towards the mountains. At 9:40 a.m., the helicopter climbed rapidly from 1,200 to 2,000 feet (370 to 610 m), flying at 161 knots (298 km/h 185 mph). [506]

At 9:45 a.m., the helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and began burning. Bryant, his daughter, and the other seven occupants were killed. [506] Initial reports indicated that the helicopter crashed in the hills above Calabasas in heavy fog. [508] [509] Witnesses reported hearing a helicopter struggling before crashing. [500]

Investigations

The cause of the crash is still unknown, as the helicopter was not equipped with a black box. The Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, and the FBI [503] have launched investigations into the crash. [510] [511] [512] On January 28, Bryant's identity was officially confirmed using fingerprints. The following day, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner stated that the official cause of death for him and the eight others on the helicopter was blunt force trauma. [513]

Over the year after the crash on February 9, 2021, the NTSB revealed that ‘poor visibility probably led pilot Ara Zobayan to become so disoriented in thick fog north of Los Angeles that he could not perceive up from down.’ The five board members also said Zobayan, who also died in the crash, ignored his training and violated federal regulations during the 40-minute flight. [514]

Tributes and funeral services

On February 7, Bryant and his daughter were buried in a private funeral in Pacific View Memorial Park in the Corona del Mar neighborhood of Newport Beach, California. [515] A public memorial service was held on February 24 (2/24, marking both Kobe's and Gianna's jersey numbers) at Staples Center with Jimmy Kimmel hosting. Speakers at the service included Vanessa, Jordan, and O'Neal, along with Chino native, Laker fan and Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi and Geno Auriemma, Taurasi's coach at Connecticut, where Gianna had been aspiring to play. [516] [517] [518]

The NBA had postponed the Lakers' game against the Clippers just two days after the accident on January 28 – the first time an NBA game was postponed for any reason since the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing led to the postponement of a Celtics game. [519] On January 30, the first game after the crash was played at Staples Center between the Clippers and the Kings the Clippers honored Bryant before the game, with Southern California native Paul George narrating a video tribute to Bryant. The next day, the Lakers played their first game after the crash against the Trail Blazers. Ahead of the match, the Lakers paid tribute to Bryant and all who lost their lives in the crash with a ceremony held just before tip off, with Usher singing "Amazing Grace" and Boyz II Men singing the National Anthem, while Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth reunited to perform "See You Again" – originally their tribute to Paul Walker after his death while filming Furious 7 – at halftime. James also delivered a speech to the crowd before the game, and every player in the Lakers starting lineup was announced with Bryant's name. [520] The game was the second-most-watched in ESPN history, averaging 4.41 million viewers. [521]

Also, beginning with the Spurs and the Raptors in their game in San Antonio on the day of the crash, teams paid tribute to Bryant at the start of their games with intentional on-court violations referring to his uniform numbers on their first possession – either a 24-second shot clock or an 8-second backcourt violation. [522] On February 15, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the All-Star Game MVP Award would be renamed to the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant Most Valuable Player in Bryant's honor. [523] In May 2020, the Mamba Sports Academy was renamed to Sports Academy out of respect for Bryant. [494]

The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards went ahead as scheduled at the Staples Center on the day of the crash, but included tributes by multiple artists and groups, including host Alicia Keys opening the show with a tribute speech and joining Boyz II Men to sing "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday". [524] [525] [526] Bryant also appeared at the start of the In Memoriam segment of the 92nd Academy Awards following his Oscar in 2018 for Dear Basketball, and Spike Lee wore a suit in tribute to him at the ceremony. [527] He was not included in the montages at the 2020 VMAs and Emmys, held later in the year. Fans were upset at the omission, especially as actors Naya Rivera and Chadwick Boseman had been featured prominently in both [528] [529] [530] [531] after Rivera and Boseman's unexpected deaths in July and August 2020 respectively, the three young black celebrities were popularly compared. [532] The 2020 Pro Bowl was also played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on the day of the crash, and before kickoff, NFC players who learned of Bryant's death conducted a prayer led by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, while various on-field and PA tributes were made during the game. [533] [534]

After the Lakers beat the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2020 NBA Finals to clinch the franchise's 17th NBA championship, rapper, Lakers fan and Long Beach native Snoop Dogg paid homage to Bryant and the Lakers with a full forearm tattoo. [535] Bryant was posthumously inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021, with Vanessa delivering the acceptance speech on Bryant's behalf. [536]


Contents

It was while debating the separation of powers between the legislative and executive departments that delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention established the parameters for the national judiciary. Creating a "third branch" of government was a novel idea in the English tradition, judicial matters had been treated as an aspect of royal (executive) authority. Early on, the delegates who were opposed to having a strong central government argued that national laws could be enforced by state courts, while others, including James Madison, advocated for a national judicial authority consisting of various tribunals chosen by the national legislature. It was also proposed that the judiciary should have a role in checking the executive's power to veto or revise laws. In the end, the framers compromised by sketching only a general outline of the judiciary, vesting federal judicial power in "one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish". [5] [6] They delineated neither the exact powers and prerogatives of the Supreme Court nor the organization of the judicial branch as a whole.

The 1st United States Congress provided the detailed organization of a federal judiciary through the Judiciary Act of 1789. The Supreme Court, the country's highest judicial tribunal, was to sit in the nation's Capital and would initially be composed of a chief justice and five associate justices. The act also divided the country into judicial districts, which were in turn organized into circuits. Justices were required to "ride circuit" and hold circuit court twice a year in their assigned judicial district. [7]

Immediately after signing the act into law, President George Washington nominated the following people to serve on the court: John Jay for chief justice and John Rutledge, William Cushing, Robert H. Harrison, James Wilson, and John Blair Jr. as associate justices. All six were confirmed by the Senate on September 26, 1789. Harrison, however, declined to serve. In his place, Washington later nominated James Iredell. [8]

The Supreme Court held its inaugural session from February 2 through February 10, 1790, at the Royal Exchange in New York City, then the U.S. capital. [9] A second session was held there in August 1790. [10] The earliest sessions of the court were devoted to organizational proceedings, as the first cases did not reach it until 1791. [7] When the nation's capital was moved to Philadelphia in 1790, the Supreme Court did so as well. After initially meeting at Independence Hall, the Court established its chambers at City Hall. [11]

Earliest beginnings through Marshall Edit

Under Chief Justices Jay, Rutledge, and Ellsworth (1789–1801), the Court heard few cases its first decision was West v. Barnes (1791), a case involving procedure. [12] As the Court initially had only six members, every decision that it made by a majority was also made by two-thirds (voting four to two). [13] However, Congress has always allowed less than the court's full membership to make decisions, starting with a quorum of four justices in 1789. [14] The court lacked a home of its own and had little prestige, [15] a situation not helped by the era's highest-profile case, Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), which was reversed within two years by the adoption of the Eleventh Amendment. [16]

The court's power and prestige grew substantially during the Marshall Court (1801–1835). [17] Under Marshall, the court established the power of judicial review over acts of Congress, [18] including specifying itself as the supreme expositor of the Constitution (Marbury v. Madison) [19] [20] and making several important constitutional rulings that gave shape and substance to the balance of power between the federal government and states (notably, Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden). [21] [22] [23] [24]

The Marshall Court also ended the practice of each justice issuing his opinion seriatim, [25] a remnant of British tradition, [26] and instead issuing a single majority opinion. [25] Also during Marshall's tenure, although beyond the Court's control, the impeachment and acquittal of Justice Samuel Chase from 1804–1805 helped cement the principle of judicial independence. [27] [28]

From Taney to Taft Edit

The Taney Court (1836–1864) made several important rulings, such as Sheldon v. Sill, which held that while Congress may not limit the subjects the Supreme Court may hear, it may limit the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts to prevent them from hearing cases dealing with certain subjects. [29] Nevertheless, it is primarily remembered for its ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford, [30] which helped precipitate the Civil War. [31] In the Reconstruction era, the Chase, Waite, and Fuller Courts (1864–1910) interpreted the new Civil War amendments to the Constitution [24] and developed the doctrine of substantive due process (Lochner v. New York [32] Adair v. United States). [33]

Under the White and Taft Courts (1910–1930), the Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment had incorporated some guarantees of the Bill of Rights against the states (Gitlow v. New York), [34] grappled with the new antitrust statutes (Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States), upheld the constitutionality of military conscription (Selective Draft Law Cases) [35] and brought the substantive due process doctrine to its first apogee (Adkins v. Children's Hospital). [36]

New Deal era Edit

During the Hughes, Stone, and Vinson Courts (1930–1953), the Court gained its own accommodation in 1935 [37] and changed its interpretation of the Constitution, giving a broader reading to the powers of the federal government to facilitate President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal (most prominently West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, Wickard v. Filburn, United States v. Darby and United States v. Butler). [38] [39] [40] During World War II, the Court continued to favor government power, upholding the internment of Japanese citizens (Korematsu v. United States) and the mandatory pledge of allegiance (Minersville School District v. Gobitis). Nevertheless, Gobitis was soon repudiated (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette), and the Steel Seizure Case restricted the pro-government trend.

The Warren Court (1953–1969) dramatically expanded the force of Constitutional civil liberties. [41] It held that segregation in public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Brown v. Board of Education, Bolling v. Sharpe and Green v. County School Bd.) [42] and that legislative districts must be roughly equal in population (Reynolds v. Sims). It created a general right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut), [43] limited the role of religion in public school (most prominently Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp), [44] [45] incorporated most guarantees of the Bill of Rights against the States—prominently Mapp v. Ohio (the exclusionary rule) and Gideon v. Wainwright (right to appointed counsel), [46] [47] —and required that criminal suspects be apprised of all these rights by police (Miranda v. Arizona). [48] At the same time, however, the Court limited defamation suits by public figures (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan) and supplied the government with an unbroken run of antitrust victories. [49]

Burger, Rehnquist, and Roberts Edit

The Burger Court (1969–1986) marked a conservative shift. [50] It also expanded Griswold's right to privacy to strike down abortion laws (Roe v. Wade), [51] but divided deeply on affirmative action (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke) [52] and campaign finance regulation (Buckley v. Valeo). [53] It also wavered on the death penalty, ruling first that most applications were defective (Furman v. Georgia), [54] but later, that the death penalty itself was not unconstitutional (Gregg v. Georgia). [54] [55] [56]

The Rehnquist Court (1986–2005) was noted for its revival of judicial enforcement of federalism, [57] emphasizing the limits of the Constitution's affirmative grants of power (United States v. Lopez) and the force of its restrictions on those powers (Seminole Tribe v. Florida, City of Boerne v. Flores). [58] [59] [60] [61] [62] It struck down single-sex state schools as a violation of equal protection (United States v. Virginia), laws against sodomy as violations of substantive due process (Lawrence v. Texas), [63] and the line item veto (Clinton v. New York), but upheld school vouchers (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris) and reaffirmed Roe's restrictions on abortion laws (Planned Parenthood v. Casey). [64] The Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, which ended the electoral recount during the presidential election of 2000, was especially controversial. [65] [66]

The Roberts Court (2005–present) is regarded as more conservative than the Rehnquist Court. [67] [68] [69] [70] Some of its major rulings have concerned federal preemption (Wyeth v. Levine), civil procedure (Twombly-Iqbal), voting rights and federal preclearence (Shelby County v. Holder), abortion (Gonzales v. Carhart), [71] climate change (Massachusetts v. EPA), same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges) and the Bill of Rights, notably in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (First Amendment), [72] Heller-McDonald (Second Amendment) [73] and Baze v. Rees (Eighth Amendment). [74] [75]

Nomination, confirmation, and appointment Edit

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Appointments Clause, empowers the president to nominate and, with the confirmation (advice and consent) of the United States Senate, to appoint public officials, including justices of the Supreme Court. This clause is one example of the system of checks and balances inherent in the Constitution. The president has the plenary power to nominate, while the Senate possesses the plenary power to reject or confirm the nominee. The Constitution sets no qualifications for service as a justice, thus a president may nominate anyone to serve, and the Senate may not set any qualifications or otherwise limit who the president can choose. [76]

In modern times, the confirmation process has attracted considerable attention from the press and advocacy groups, which lobby senators to confirm or to reject a nominee depending on whether their track record aligns with the group's views. The Senate Judiciary Committee conducts hearings and votes on whether the nomination should go to the full Senate with a positive, negative or neutral report. The committee's practice of personally interviewing nominees is relatively recent. The first nominee to appear before the committee was Harlan Fiske Stone in 1925, who sought to quell concerns about his links to Wall Street, and the modern practice of questioning began with John Marshall Harlan II in 1955. [77] Once the committee reports out the nomination, the full Senate considers it. Rejections are relatively uncommon the Senate has explicitly rejected twelve Supreme Court nominees, most recently Robert Bork, nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Although Senate rules do not necessarily allow a negative vote in committee to block a nomination, prior to 2017 a nomination could be blocked by filibuster once debate had begun in the full Senate. President Lyndon B. Johnson's nomination of sitting Associate Justice Abe Fortas to succeed Earl Warren as Chief Justice in 1968 was the first successful filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. It included both Republican and Democratic senators concerned with Fortas's ethics. President Donald Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia's death was the second. Unlike the Fortas filibuster, however, only Democratic Senators voted against cloture on the Gorsuch nomination, citing his perceived conservative judicial philosophy, and the Republican majority's prior refusal to take up President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy. [78] This led the Republican majority to change the rules and eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. [79]

Not every Supreme Court nominee has received a floor vote in the Senate. A president may withdraw a nomination before an actual confirmation vote occurs, typically because it is clear that the Senate will reject the nominee this occurred most recently with President George W. Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers in 2005. The Senate may also fail to act on a nomination, which expires at the end of the session. For example, President Dwight Eisenhower's first nomination of John Marshall Harlan II in November 1954 was not acted on by the Senate Eisenhower re-nominated Harlan in January 1955, and Harlan was confirmed two months later. Most recently, as previously noted, the Senate failed to act on the March 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland the nomination expired in January 2017, and the vacancy was filled by Neil Gorsuch, an appointee of President Trump. [80]

Once the Senate confirms a nomination, the president must prepare and sign a commission, to which the Seal of the Department of Justice must be affixed, before the new justice can take office. [81] The seniority of an associate justice is based on the commissioning date, not the confirmation or swearing-in date. [82] The importance of commissioning is underscored by the case of Edwin M. Stanton. Although appointed to the court on December 19, 1869, by President Ulysses S. Grant and confirmed by the Senate a few days later, Stanton died on December 24, prior to receiving his commission. He is not, therefore, considered to have been an actual member of the court.

Before 1981, the approval process of justices was usually rapid. From the Truman through Nixon administrations, justices were typically approved within one month. From the Reagan administration to the present, however, the process has taken much longer. Some believe this is because Congress sees justices as playing a more political role than in the past. [83] According to the Congressional Research Service, the average number of days from nomination to final Senate vote since 1975 is 67 days (2.2 months), while the median is 71 days (or 2.3 months). [84] [85]

Recess appointments Edit

When the Senate is in recess, a president may make temporary appointments to fill vacancies. Recess appointees hold office only until the end of the next Senate session (less than two years). The Senate must confirm the nominee for them to continue serving of the two chief justices and eleven associate justices who have received recess appointments, only Chief Justice John Rutledge was not subsequently confirmed. [86]

No president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has made a recess appointment to the Court, and the practice has become rare and controversial even in lower federal courts. [87] In 1960, after Eisenhower had made three such appointments, the Senate passed a "sense of the Senate" resolution that recess appointments to the Court should only be made in "unusual circumstances". [88] Such resolutions are not legally binding but are an expression of Congress's views in the hope of guiding executive action. [88] [89]

The Supreme Court's 2014 decision in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning limited the ability of the President to make recess appointments (including appointments to the Supreme Court) the Court ruled that the Senate decides when the Senate is in session (or in recess). Writing for the Court, Justice Breyer stated, "We hold that, for purposes of the Recess Appointments Clause, the Senate is in session when it says it is, provided that, under its own rules, it retains the capacity to transact Senate business." [90] This ruling allows the Senate to prevent recess appointments through the use of pro-forma sessions. [91]

Tenure Edit

The Constitution provides that justices "shall hold their offices during good behavior" (unless appointed during a Senate recess). The term "good behavior" is understood to mean justices may serve for the remainder of their lives, unless they are impeached and convicted by Congress, resign, or retire. [92] Only one justice has been impeached by the House of Representatives (Samuel Chase, March 1804), but he was acquitted in the Senate (March 1805). [93] Moves to impeach sitting justices have occurred more recently (for example, William O. Douglas was the subject of hearings twice, in 1953 and again in 1970 and Abe Fortas resigned while hearings were being organized in 1969), but they did not reach a vote in the House. No mechanism exists for removing a justice who is permanently incapacitated by illness or injury, but unable (or unwilling) to resign. [94]

Because justices have indefinite tenure, timing of vacancies can be unpredictable. Sometimes vacancies arise in quick succession, as in the early 1970s when Lewis F. Powell Jr. and William Rehnquist were nominated to replace Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan II, who retired within a week of each other. Sometimes a great length of time passes between nominations, such as the eleven years between Stephen Breyer's nomination in 1994 to succeed Harry Blackmun and the nomination of John Roberts in 2005 to fill the seat of Sandra Day O'Connor (though Roberts' nomination was withdrawn and resubmitted for the role of chief justice after Rehnquist died).

Despite the variability, all but four presidents have been able to appoint at least one justice. William Henry Harrison died a month after taking office, though his successor (John Tyler) made an appointment during that presidential term. Likewise, Zachary Taylor died 16 months after taking office, but his successor (Millard Fillmore) also made a Supreme Court nomination before the end of that term. Andrew Johnson, who became president after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, was denied the opportunity to appoint a justice by a reduction in the size of the court. Jimmy Carter is the only person elected president to have left office after at least one full term without having the opportunity to appoint a justice. Presidents James Monroe, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George W. Bush each served a full term without an opportunity to appoint a justice, but made appointments during their subsequent terms in office. No president who has served more than one full term has gone without at least one opportunity to make an appointment.

Size of the court Edit

Article III of the Constitution sets neither the size of the Supreme Court nor any specific positions on it (though the existence of the office of the chief justice is tacitly acknowledged in Article I, Section 3, Clause 6). Instead, these powers have typically been entrusted to Congress, which initially established a six-member Supreme Court composed of a chief justice and five associate justices through the Judiciary Act of 1789. The size of the Court was first altered by an 1801 act which would have reduced the size of the court to five members upon its next vacancy, but an 1802 act promptly negated the 1801 act, legally restoring the court's size to six members before any such vacancy occurred. As the nation's boundaries grew across the continent and as Supreme Court justices in those days had to ride the circuit, an arduous process requiring long travel on horseback or carriage over harsh terrain that resulted in months-long extended stays away from home, Congress added justices to correspond with the growth: seven in 1807, nine in 1837, and ten in 1863. [95] [96]

In 1866, at the behest of Chief Justice Chase and in an attempt to limit the power of Andrew Johnson, Congress passed an act providing that the next three justices to retire would not be replaced, which would thin the bench to seven justices by attrition. Consequently, one seat was removed in 1866 and a second in 1867. In 1869, however, the Circuit Judges Act returned the number of justices to nine, [97] where it has since remained.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to expand the Court in 1937. His proposal envisioned the appointment of one additional justice for each incumbent justice who reached the age of 70 years 6 months and refused retirement, up to a maximum bench of 15 justices. The proposal was ostensibly to ease the burden of the docket on elderly judges, but the actual purpose was widely understood as an effort to "pack" the Court with justices who would support Roosevelt's New Deal. [98] The plan, usually called the "court-packing plan", failed in Congress after members of Roosevelt's own Democratic Party believed it to be unconstitutional, it was defeated 70-20 in the United States Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee reported that it was "essential to the continuance of our constitutional democracy" that the proposal "be so emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America.” [99] [100] [101] [102] It remains unclear whether it would be at all constitutional or not to expand the size of the Supreme Court in ways understood to be designed to "pack" it with justices that would rule more favorably on a President's agenda or to simply change the ideological composition of the court. [103] [104]

Current justices Edit

There are currently nine justices on the Supreme Court: Chief Justice John Roberts and eight associate justices. Among the current members of the Court, Clarence Thomas is the longest-serving justice, with a tenure of 10,835 days ( 29 years, 242 days) as of June 22, 2021 the most recent justice to join the court is Amy Coney Barrett, whose tenure began on October 27, 2020. [105]

Current justices of the Supreme Court [106]
Justice /
birthdate and place
Appointed by SCV Age at Start date /
length of service
Previous position or office
(most recent prior to joining the Court)
Succeeded
Start Present
John Roberts
January 27, 1955
Buffalo, New York
G. W. Bush 78–22 50 66 September 29, 2005
15 years, 266 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2003–2005) Rehnquist
Clarence Thomas
June 23, 1948
Pin Point, Georgia
G. H. W. Bush 52–48 43 72 October 23, 1991
29 years, 242 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1990–1991) Marshall
Stephen Breyer
August 15, 1938
San Francisco, California
Clinton 87–9 55 82 August 3, 1994
26 years, 323 days
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (1990–1994) Blackmun
Samuel Alito
April 1, 1950
Trenton, New Jersey
G. W. Bush 58–42 55 71 January 31, 2006
15 years, 142 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1990–2006) O'Connor
Sonia Sotomayor
June 25, 1954
The Bronx, New York
Obama 68–31 55 66 August 8, 2009
11 years, 318 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (1998–2009) Souter
Elena Kagan
April 28, 1960
Manhattan, New York
Obama 63–37 50 61 August 7, 2010
10 years, 319 days
Solicitor General of the United States (2009–2010) Stevens
Neil Gorsuch
August 29, 1967
Denver, Colorado
Trump 54–45 49 53 April 10, 2017
4 years, 73 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (2006–2017) Scalia
Brett Kavanaugh
February 12, 1965
Washington, D.C.
Trump 50–48 53 56 October 6, 2018
2 years, 259 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2006–2018) Kennedy
Amy Coney Barrett
January 28, 1972
New Orleans, Louisiana
Trump 52–48 48 49 October 27, 2020
238 days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (2017–2020) Ginsburg

Length of tenure Edit

This graphical timeline depicts the length of each current Supreme Court justice's tenure (not seniority) on the Court:

Court demographics Edit

The Court currently has six male and three female justices. Among the nine justices, there is one African-American justice (Justice Thomas) and one Hispanic justice (Justice Sotomayor). One of the justices was born to at least one immigrant parent: Justice Alito's father was born in Italy. [107] [108]

At least six justices are Roman Catholics and two are Jewish. It is unclear whether Neil Gorsuch considers himself a Catholic or an Episcopalian. [109] Historically, most justices have been Protestants, including 36 Episcopalians, 19 Presbyterians, 10 Unitarians, 5 Methodists, and 3 Baptists. [110] [111] The first Catholic justice was Roger Taney in 1836, [112] and 1916 saw the appointment of the first Jewish justice, Louis Brandeis. [113] In recent years the historical situation has reversed, as most recent justices have been either Catholic or Jewish.

All current justices except for Amy Coney Barrett have Ivy League backgrounds as either undergraduates or law students. Barrett received her bachelor's degree at Rhodes College and her law degree at the University of Notre Dame. [114] Three justices are from the state of New York, and one each is from California, New Jersey, Georgia, Colorado, Louisiana and Washington, D.C. [115] [116]

For much of the Court's history, every justice was a man of Northwestern European descent, and almost always Protestant. Diversity concerns focused on geography, to represent all regions of the country, rather than religious, ethnic, or gender diversity. [117] Racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in the Court increased in the late 20th century. Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American justice in 1967. [113] Sandra Day O'Connor became the first female justice in 1981. [113] In 1986, Antonin Scalia became the first Italian-American justice. Marshall was succeeded by African-American Clarence Thomas in 1991. [118] O'Connor was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993. [119] After O'Connor's retirement Ginsburg was joined in 2009 by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and Latina justice, [113] and in 2010 by Elena Kagan. [119] After Ginsburg's death on September 18, 2020, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed as the fifth woman in the Court's history on October 26, 2020.

There have been six foreign-born justices in the Court's history: James Wilson (1789–1798), born in Caskardy, Scotland James Iredell (1790–1799), born in Lewes, England William Paterson (1793–1806), born in County Antrim, Ireland David Brewer (1889–1910), born to American missionaries in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire (now Izmir, Turkey) George Sutherland (1922–1939), born in Buckinghamshire, England and Felix Frankfurter (1939–1962), born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now in Austria). [113]

Retired justices Edit

There are currently three living retired justices of the Supreme Court of the United States: Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter. As retired justices, they no longer participate in the work of the Supreme Court, but may be designated for temporary assignments to sit on lower federal courts, usually the United States Courts of Appeals. Such assignments are formally made by the chief justice, on request of the chief judge of the lower court and with the consent of the retired justice. In recent years, Justice O'Connor has sat with several Courts of Appeals around the country, and Justice Souter has frequently sat on the First Circuit, the court of which he was briefly a member before joining the Supreme Court.

The status of a retired justice is analogous to that of a circuit or district court judge who has taken senior status, and eligibility of a Supreme Court justice to assume retired status (rather than simply resign from the bench) is governed by the same age and service criteria.

In recent times, justices tend to strategically plan their decisions to leave the bench with personal, institutional, ideological, partisan and sometimes even political factors playing a role. [120] [121] The fear of mental decline and death often motivates justices to step down. The desire to maximize the Court's strength and legitimacy through one retirement at a time, when the Court is in recess, and during non-presidential election years suggests a concern for institutional health. Finally, especially in recent decades, many justices have timed their departure to coincide with a philosophically compatible president holding office, to ensure that a like-minded successor would be appointed. [122] [123]

Retired justices of the Supreme Court [106]
Justice /
Birthdate and place
Appointed by Retired under Age at Tenure
Start Retirement Present Start date End date Length
Sandra Day O'Connor
March 26, 1930
El Paso, Texas
Reagan G. W. Bush 51 75 91 September 25, 1981 January 31, 2006 24 years, 128 days
Anthony Kennedy
July 23, 1936
Sacramento, California
Reagan Trump 51 82 84 February 18, 1988 July 31, 2018 30 years, 163 days
David Souter
September 17, 1939
Melrose, Massachusetts
G. H. W. Bush Obama 51 69 81 October 9, 1990 June 29, 2009 18 years, 263 days

Seniority and seating Edit

For the most part, the day-to-day activities of the justices are governed by rules of protocol based upon the seniority of justices. The chief justice always ranks first in the order of precedence—regardless of the length of their service. The associate justices are then ranked by the length of their service. The chief justice sits in the center on the bench, or at the head of the table during conferences. The other justices are seated in order of seniority. The senior-most associate justice sits immediately to the chief justice's right the second most senior sits immediately to their left. The seats alternate right to left in order of seniority, with the most junior justice occupying the last seat. Therefore, starting in the middle of the October 2020 term, the court will sit as follows from left to right, from the perspective of those facing the Court: Kavanaugh, Kagan, Alito, Thomas (most senior associate justice), Roberts (chief justice), Breyer, Sotomayor, Gorsuch, and Barrett. Likewise, when the members of the Court gather for official group photographs, justices are arranged in order of seniority, with the five most senior members seated in the front row in the same order as they would sit during Court sessions, and the four most junior justices standing behind them, again in the same order as they would sit during Court sessions.

In the justices' private conferences, current practice is for them to speak and vote in order of seniority, beginning with the chief justice first and ending with the most junior associate justice. By custom, the most junior associate justice in these conferences is charged with any menial tasks the justices may require as they convene alone, such as answering the door of their conference room, serving beverages and transmitting orders of the court to the clerk. [124] Justice Joseph Story served the longest as junior justice, from February 3, 1812, to September 1, 1823, for a total of 4,228 days. Justice Stephen Breyer follows very closely behind serving from August 3, 1994, to January 31, 2006, for a total of 4,199 days. [125] Justice Elena Kagan comes in at a distant third serving from August 6, 2010, to April 10, 2017, for a total of 2,439 days.

Salary Edit

As of 2018, associate justices receive a yearly salary of $255,300 and the chief justice is paid $267,000 per year. [126] Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits Congress from reducing the pay for incumbent justices. Once a justice meets age and service requirements, the justice may retire. Judicial pensions are based on the same formula used for federal employees, but a justice's pension, as with other federal courts judges, can never be less than their salary at the time of retirement.

Judicial leanings Edit

Although justices are nominated by the president in power, and receive confirmation by the Senate, justices do not represent or receive official endorsements from political parties, as is accepted practice in the legislative and executive branches. Jurists are, however, informally categorized in legal and political circles as being judicial conservatives, moderates, or liberals. Such leanings, however, generally refer to legal outlook rather than a political or legislative one. The nominations of justices are endorsed by individual politicians in the legislative branch who vote their approval [ clarification needed ] or disapproval of the nominated justice. The ideologies of jurists can be measured and compared with several metrics, including the Segal–Cover score, Martin-Quinn score, and Judicial Common Space score. [127] [128]

Following the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett in 2020, the Court currently consists of six justices appointed by Republican presidents and three appointed by Democratic presidents. It is popularly accepted that Chief Justice Roberts and associate justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett appointed by Republican presidents, compose the Court's conservative wing. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan, appointed by Democratic presidents, compose the Court's liberal wing. Gorsuch had a track record as a reliably conservative judge in the 10th circuit. [129] Kavanaugh was considered one of the more conservative judges in the DC Circuit prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court. [130] [131] Likewise, Barrett's brief track record on the Seventh Circuit is conservative. [132] Prior to Justice Ginsburg's death, Chief Justice Roberts was considered the Court's median justice (in the middle of the ideological spectrum, with four justices more liberal and four more conservative than him), making him the ideological center of the Court. [133] [134]

Tom Goldstein argued in an article in SCOTUSblog in 2010, that the popular view of the Supreme Court as sharply divided along ideological lines and each side pushing an agenda at every turn is "in significant part a caricature designed to fit certain preconceptions". [135] He pointed out that in the 2009 term, almost half the cases were decided unanimously, and only about 20% were decided by a 5-to-4 vote. Barely one in ten cases involved the narrow liberal/conservative divide (fewer if the cases where Sotomayor recused herself are not included). He also pointed to several cases that defied the popular conception of the ideological lines of the Court. [136] Goldstein further argued that the large number of pro-criminal-defendant summary dismissals (usually cases where the justices decide that the lower courts significantly misapplied precedent and reverse the case without briefing or argument) were an illustration that the conservative justices had not been aggressively ideological. Likewise, Goldstein stated that the critique that the liberal justices are more likely to invalidate acts of Congress, show inadequate deference to the political process, and be disrespectful of precedent, also lacked merit: Thomas has most often called for overruling prior precedent (even if long standing) that he views as having been wrongly decided, and during the 2009 term Scalia and Thomas voted most often to invalidate legislation.

According to statistics compiled by SCOTUSblog, in the twelve terms from 2000 to 2011, an average of 19 of the opinions on major issues (22%) were decided by a 5–4 vote, with an average of 70% of those split opinions decided by a Court divided along the traditionally perceived ideological lines (about 15% of all opinions issued). Over that period, the conservative bloc has been in the majority about 62% of the time that the Court has divided along ideological lines, which represents about 44% of all the 5–4 decisions. [137]

In the October 2010 term, the Court decided 86 cases, including 75 signed opinions and 5 summary reversals (where the Court reverses a lower court without arguments and without issuing an opinion on the case). [138] [139] Four were decided with unsigned opinions, two cases affirmed by an equally divided Court, and two cases were dismissed as improvidently granted. Justice Kagan recused herself from 26 of the cases due to her prior role as United States Solicitor General. Of the 80 cases, 38 (about 48%, the highest percentage since the October 2005 term) were decided unanimously (9–0 or 8–0), and 16 decisions were made by a 5–4 vote (about 20%, compared to 18% in the October 2009 term, and 29% in the October 2008 term). [140] However, in fourteen of the sixteen 5–4 decisions, the Court divided along the traditional ideological lines (with Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan on the liberal side, and Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito on the conservative, and Kennedy providing the "swing vote"). This represents 87% of those 16 cases, the highest rate in the past 10 years. The conservative bloc, joined by Kennedy, formed the majority in 63% of the 5–4 decisions, the highest cohesion rate of that bloc in the Roberts Court. [138] [141]

The October 2017 term had a low rate of unanimous rulings, with only 39% of the cases decided by unanimous rulings, the lowest percentage since the October 2008 term when 30% of rulings were unanimous. [142] Chief Justice Roberts was in the majority most often (68 out of 73 cases, or 93.2%), with retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy in second (67 out of 73 cases, or 91.8%) this was typical of the Roberts Court, in which Roberts and Kennedy have been in the majority most frequently in all terms except for the 2013 and 2014 terms (though Kennedy was in the top on both those terms). [143] Justice Sotomayor was the justice least likely to be in the majority (in 50 out of 73 cases, or 68.5%). The highest agreement between justices was between Ginsburg and Sotomayor, who agreed on 95.8% of the cases, followed by Thomas and Alito agreeing on 93% of cases. There were 19 cases that were decided by a 5–4 vote (26% of the total cases) 74% of those cases (14 out of 19) broke along ideological lines, and for the first time in the Roberts Court, all of those resulted in a conservative majority, with Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch on the majority. [143]

The October 2018 term, which saw the replacement of Anthony Kennedy by Brett Kavanaugh, once again saw a low rate of unanimity: only 28 of 71 decided cases were decided by a unanimous court, about 39% of the cases. [144] [145] Of these, only 19 cases had the Justices in total agreement. Chief Justice Roberts was once again the justice most often in the majority (61 out of 72 cases, or 85% of the time). Though Kavanaugh had a higher percentage of times in the majority, he did not participate in all cases, voting in the majority 58 out of 64 times, or 91% of the cases in which he participated. Of the justices who participated in all 72 cases, Kagan and Alito tied in second place, voting in the majority 59 out of 72 times (or 82% of the time). Looking only at cases that were not decided unanimously, Roberts and Kavanaugh were the most frequently in the majority (33 cases, with Roberts being in the majority in 75% of the divided cases, and Kavanaugh in 85% of the divided cases he participated in). Of 20 cases that were decided by a vote of 5–4, eight featured the conservative justices in the majority (Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh), and eight had the liberal justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) joined by a conservative: Gorsuch was the most frequent, joining them four times, and the remaining conservative justices joining the liberals once each. The remaining 4 cases were decided by different coalitions. [145] The highest agreement between justices was between Roberts and Kavanaugh, who agreed at least in judgement 94% of the time the second highest agreement was again between Ginsburg and Sotomayor, who agreed 93% of the time. The highest rate of full agreement was between Ginsburg and Kagan (82% of the time), closely followed by Roberts and Alito, Ginsburg and Sotomayor, and Breyer and Kagan (81% of the time). The largest rate of disagreement was between Thomas and both Ginsburg and Sotomayor Thomas disagreed with each of them 50% of the time. [145]

The Supreme Court first met on February 1, 1790, at the Merchants' Exchange Building in New York City. When Philadelphia became the capital, the Court met briefly in Independence Hall before settling in Old City Hall from 1791 until 1800. After the government moved to Washington, D.C., the Court occupied various spaces in the United States Capitol building until 1935, when it moved into its own purpose-built home. The four-story building was designed by Cass Gilbert in a classical style sympathetic to the surrounding buildings of the Capitol and Library of Congress, and is clad in marble. The building includes the courtroom, justices' chambers, an extensive law library, various meeting spaces, and auxiliary services including a gymnasium. The Supreme Court building is within the ambit of the Architect of the Capitol, but maintains its own police force separate from the Capitol Police. [146]

Located across First Street from the United States Capitol at One First Street NE and Maryland Avenue, [147] [148] the building is open to the public from 9 am to 4:30 pm weekdays but closed on weekends and holidays. [147] Visitors may not tour the actual courtroom unaccompanied. There is a cafeteria, a gift shop, exhibits, and a half-hour informational film. [146] When the Court is not in session, lectures about the courtroom are held hourly from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm and reservations are not necessary. [146] When the Court is in session the public may attend oral arguments, which are held twice each morning (and sometimes afternoons) on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in two-week intervals from October through late April, with breaks during December and February. Visitors are seated on a first-come first-served basis. One estimate is there are about 250 seats available. [149] The number of open seats varies from case to case for important cases, some visitors arrive the day before and wait through the night. From mid-May until the end of June, the court releases orders and opinions beginning at 10 am, and these 15 to 30-minute sessions are open to the public on a similar basis. [146] Supreme Court Police are available to answer questions. [147]

Congress is authorized by Article III of the federal Constitution to regulate the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases between two or more states [150] but may decline to hear such cases. [151] It also possesses original but not exclusive jurisdiction to hear "all actions or proceedings to which ambassadors, other public ministers, consuls, or vice consuls of foreign states are parties all controversies between the United States and a State and all actions or proceedings by a State against the citizens of another State or against aliens". [152]

In 1906, the Court asserted its original jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for contempt of court in United States v. Shipp. [153] The resulting proceeding remains the only contempt proceeding and only criminal trial in the Court's history. [154] [155] The contempt proceeding arose from the lynching of Ed Johnson in Chattanooga, Tennessee the evening after Justice John Marshall Harlan granted Johnson a stay of execution to allow his lawyers to file an appeal. Johnson was removed from his jail cell by a lynch mob, aided by the local sheriff who left the prison virtually unguarded, and hanged from a bridge, after which a deputy sheriff pinned a note on Johnson's body reading: "To Justice Harlan. Come get your nigger now." [154] The local sheriff, John Shipp, cited the Supreme Court's intervention as the rationale for the lynching. The Court appointed its deputy clerk as special master to preside over the trial in Chattanooga with closing arguments made in Washington before the Supreme Court justices, who found nine individuals guilty of contempt, sentencing three to 90 days in jail and the rest to 60 days in jail. [154] [155] [156]

In all other cases, however, the Court has only appellate jurisdiction, including the ability to issue writs of mandamus and writs of prohibition to lower courts. It considers cases based on its original jurisdiction very rarely almost all cases are brought to the Supreme Court on appeal. In practice, the only original jurisdiction cases heard by the Court are disputes between two or more states. [ citation needed ]

The Court's appellate jurisdiction consists of appeals from federal courts of appeal (through certiorari, certiorari before judgment, and certified questions), [157] the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (through certiorari), [158] the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico (through certiorari), [159] the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands (through certiorari), [160] the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (through certiorari), [161] and "final judgments or decrees rendered by the highest court of a State in which a decision could be had" (through certiorari). [161] In the last case, an appeal may be made to the Supreme Court from a lower state court if the state's highest court declined to hear an appeal or lacks jurisdiction to hear an appeal. For example, a decision rendered by one of the Florida District Courts of Appeal can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court if (a) the Supreme Court of Florida declined to grant certiorari, e.g. Florida Star v. B. J. F., or (b) the district court of appeal issued a per curiam decision simply affirming the lower court's decision without discussing the merits of the case, since the Supreme Court of Florida lacks jurisdiction to hear appeals of such decisions. [162] The power of the Supreme Court to consider appeals from state courts, rather than just federal courts, was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789 and upheld early in the Court's history, by its rulings in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee (1816) and Cohens v. Virginia (1821). The Supreme Court is the only federal court that has jurisdiction over direct appeals from state court decisions, although there are several devices that permit so-called "collateral review" of state cases. It has to be noted that this "collateral review" often only applies to individuals on death row and not through the regular judicial system. [163]

Since Article Three of the United States Constitution stipulates that federal courts may only entertain "cases" or "controversies", the Supreme Court cannot decide cases that are moot and it does not render advisory opinions, as the supreme courts of some states may do. For example, in DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (1974), the Court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law school affirmative action policy because the plaintiff student had graduated since he began the lawsuit, and a decision from the Court on his claim would not be able to redress any injury he had suffered. However, the Court recognizes some circumstances where it is appropriate to hear a case that is seemingly moot. If an issue is "capable of repetition yet evading review", the Court will address it even though the party before the Court would not themselves be made whole by a favorable result. In Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and other abortion cases, the Court addresses the merits of claims pressed by pregnant women seeking abortions even if they are no longer pregnant because it takes longer than the typical human gestation period to appeal a case through the lower courts to the Supreme Court. Another mootness exception is voluntary cessation of unlawful conduct, in which the Court considers the probability of recurrence and plaintiff's need for relief. [164]

Justices as circuit justices Edit

The United States is divided into thirteen circuit courts of appeals, each of which is assigned a "circuit justice" from the Supreme Court. Although this concept has been in continuous existence throughout the history of the republic, its meaning has changed through time.

Under the Judiciary Act of 1789, each justice was required to "ride circuit", or to travel within the assigned circuit and consider cases alongside local judges. This practice encountered opposition from many justices, who cited the difficulty of travel. Moreover, there was a potential for a conflict of interest on the Court if a justice had previously decided the same case while riding circuit. Circuit riding ended in 1901, when the Circuit Court of Appeals Act was passed, and circuit riding was officially abolished by Congress in 1911. [165]

The circuit justice for each circuit is responsible for dealing with certain types of applications that, under the Court's rules, may be addressed by a single justice. These include applications for emergency stays (including stays of execution in death-penalty cases) and injunctions pursuant to the All Writs Act arising from cases within that circuit, as well as routine requests such as requests for extensions of time. In the past, [ when? ] circuit justices also sometimes ruled on motions for bail in criminal cases, writs of habeas corpus, and applications for writs of error granting permission to appeal. Ordinarily, a justice will resolve such an application by simply endorsing it "granted" or "denied" or entering a standard form of order. However, the justice may elect to write an opinion—referred to as an in-chambers opinion—in such matters if they wish. [ citation needed ]

A circuit justice may sit as a judge on the Court of Appeals of that circuit, but over the past hundred years, this has rarely occurred. A circuit justice sitting with the Court of Appeals has seniority over the chief judge of the circuit.

The chief justice has traditionally been assigned to the District of Columbia Circuit, the Fourth Circuit (which includes Maryland and Virginia, the states surrounding the District of Columbia), and since it was established, the Federal Circuit. Each associate justice is assigned to one or two judicial circuits.

As of November 20, 2020, the allotment of the justices among the circuits is as follows: [166]

Circuit Justice
District of Columbia Circuit Chief Justice Roberts
First Circuit Justice Breyer
Second Circuit Justice Sotomayor
Third Circuit Justice Alito
Fourth Circuit Chief Justice Roberts
Fifth Circuit Justice Alito
Sixth Circuit Justice Kavanaugh
Seventh Circuit Justice Barrett
Eighth Circuit Justice Kavanaugh
Ninth Circuit Justice Kagan
Tenth Circuit Justice Gorsuch
Eleventh Circuit Justice Thomas
Federal Circuit Chief Justice Roberts

Six of the current justices are assigned to circuits on which they previously sat as circuit judges: Chief Justice Roberts (D.C. Circuit), Justice Breyer (First Circuit), Justice Sotomayor (Second Circuit), Justice Alito (Third Circuit), Justice Barrett (Seventh Circuit), and Justice Gorsuch (Tenth Circuit).

A term of the Supreme Court commences on the first Monday of each October, and continues until June or early July of the following year. Each term consists of alternating periods of around two weeks known as "sittings" and "recesses". Justices hear cases and deliver rulings during sittings they discuss cases and write opinions during recesses.

Case selection Edit

Nearly all cases come before the court by way of petitions for writs of certiorari, commonly referred to as "cert". The Court may review any case in the federal courts of appeals "by writ of certiorari granted upon the petition of any party to any civil or criminal case". [167] The Court may only review "final judgments rendered by the highest court of a state in which a decision could be had" if those judgments involve a question of federal statutory or constitutional law. [168] The party that appealed to the Court is the petitioner and the non-mover is the respondent. All case names before the Court are styled petitioner v. respondent, regardless of which party initiated the lawsuit in the trial court. For example, criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the state and against an individual, as in State of Arizona v. Ernesto Miranda. If the defendant is convicted, and his conviction then is affirmed on appeal in the state supreme court, when he petitions for cert the name of the case becomes Miranda v. Arizona.

There are situations where the Court has original jurisdiction, such as when two states have a dispute against each other, or when there is a dispute between the United States and a state. In such instances, a case is filed with the Supreme Court directly. Examples of such cases include United States v. Texas, a case to determine whether a parcel of land belonged to the United States or to Texas, and Virginia v. Tennessee, a case turning on whether an incorrectly drawn boundary between two states can be changed by a state court, and whether the setting of the correct boundary requires Congressional approval. Although it has not happened since 1794 in the case of Georgia v. Brailsford, [169] parties in an action at law in which the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction may request that a jury determine issues of fact. [170] Georgia v. Brailsford remains the only case in which the court has empaneled a jury, in this case a special jury. [171] Two other original jurisdiction cases involve colonial era borders and rights under navigable waters in New Jersey v. Delaware, and water rights between riparian states upstream of navigable waters in Kansas v. Colorado.

A cert petition is voted on at a session of the court called a conference. A conference is a private meeting of the nine Justices by themselves the public and the Justices' clerks are excluded. The rule of four permits four of the nine justices to grant a writ of certiorari. If it is granted, the case proceeds to the briefing stage otherwise, the case ends. Except in death penalty cases and other cases in which the Court orders briefing from the respondent, the respondent may, but is not required to, file a response to the cert petition.

The court grants a petition for cert only for "compelling reasons", spelled out in the court's Rule 10. Such reasons include:

  • Resolving a conflict in the interpretation of a federal law or a provision of the federal Constitution
  • Correcting an egregious departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings
  • Resolving an important question of federal law, or to expressly review a decision of a lower court that conflicts directly with a previous decision of the Court.

When a conflict of interpretations arises from differing interpretations of the same law or constitutional provision issued by different federal circuit courts of appeals, lawyers call this situation a "circuit split". If the court votes to deny a cert petition, as it does in the vast majority of such petitions that come before it, it does so typically without comment. A denial of a cert petition is not a judgment on the merits of a case, and the decision of the lower court stands as the case's final ruling.

To manage the high volume of cert petitions received by the Court each year (of the more than 7,000 petitions the Court receives each year, it will usually request briefing and hear oral argument in 100 or fewer), the Court employs an internal case management tool known as the "cert pool". Currently, all justices except for Justices Alito and Gorsuch participate in the cert pool. [172] [173] [174] [175]

Oral argument Edit

When the Court grants a cert petition, the case is set for oral argument. Both parties will file briefs on the merits of the case, as distinct from the reasons they may have argued for granting or denying the cert petition. With the consent of the parties or approval of the Court, amici curiae, or "friends of the court", may also file briefs. The Court holds two-week oral argument sessions each month from October through April. Each side has thirty minutes to present its argument (the Court may choose to give more time, though this is rare), [176] and during that time, the Justices may interrupt the advocate and ask questions. The petitioner gives the first presentation, and may reserve some time to rebut the respondent's arguments after the respondent has concluded. Amici curiae may also present oral argument on behalf of one party if that party agrees. The Court advises counsel to assume that the Justices are familiar with and have read the briefs filed in a case.

Supreme Court bar Edit

In order to plead before the court, an attorney must first be admitted to the court's bar. Approximately 4,000 lawyers join the bar each year. The bar contains an estimated 230,000 members. In reality, pleading is limited to several hundred attorneys. The rest join for a one-time fee of $200, earning the court about $750,000 annually. Attorneys can be admitted as either individuals or as groups. The group admission is held before the current justices of the Supreme Court, wherein the chief justice approves a motion to admit the new attorneys. [177] Lawyers commonly apply for the cosmetic value of a certificate to display in their office or on their resume. They also receive access to better seating if they wish to attend an oral argument. [178] Members of the Supreme Court Bar are also granted access to the collections of the Supreme Court Library. [179]

Decision Edit

At the conclusion of oral argument, the case is submitted for decision. Cases are decided by majority vote of the Justices. It is the Court's practice to issue decisions in all cases argued in a particular term by the end of that term. Within that term, however, the Court is under no obligation to release a decision within any set time after oral argument.

After the oral argument is concluded, usually in the same week as the case was submitted, the Justices retire to another conference at which the preliminary votes are tallied and the Court sees which side has prevailed. One of the Justices in the majority is then assigned to write the Court's opinion—also known as the "majority opinion". This assignment is made by the most senior Justice in the majority (with the Chief Justice always being considered the most senior). Drafts of the Court's opinion circulate among the Justices until the Court is prepared to announce the judgment in a particular case. [180] Justices are free to change their votes on a case up until the decision is finalized and published. In any given case, a Justice is free to choose whether or not to author an opinion or else simply join the majority or another Justice's opinion. There are several primary types of opinions:

  • Opinion of the Court: this is the binding decision of the Supreme Court. An opinion that more than half of the Justices join (usually at least five Justices, since there are nine Justices in total but in cases where some Justices do not participate it could be fewer) is known as "majority opinion" and creates binding precedent in American law. Whereas an opinion that fewer than half of the Justices join is known as a "plurality opinion" and is only partially binding precedent.
  • Concurring: when a Justice "concurs", he or she agrees with and joins the majority opinion but authors a separate concurrence to give additional explanations, rationales, or commentary. Concurrences do not create binding precedent.
  • Concurring in the judgment: when a justice "concurs in the judgment", he or she agrees with the outcome the Court reached but disagrees with its reasons for doing so. A justice in this situation does not join the majority opinion. Like regular concurrences, these do not create binding precedent.
  • Dissent: a dissenting Justice disagrees with the outcome the Court reached and its reasoning. Justices who dissent from a decision may author their own dissenting opinions or, if there are multiple dissenting Justices in a decision, may join another Justice's dissent. Dissents do not create binding precedent.

A justice may also join only part(s) of a particular decision, and may even agree with some parts of the outcome and disagree with others.

Since recording devices are banned inside the courtroom of the Supreme Court Building, the delivery of the decision to the media is done via paper copies and is known as the "Running of the Interns". [181]

It is possible that, through recusals or vacancies, the Court divides evenly on a case. If that occurs, then the decision of the court below is affirmed, but does not establish binding precedent. In effect, it results in a return to the status quo ante. For a case to be heard, there must be a quorum of at least six justices. [182] If a quorum is not available to hear a case and a majority of qualified justices believes that the case cannot be heard and determined in the next term, then the judgment of the court below is affirmed as if the Court had been evenly divided. For cases brought to the Supreme Court by direct appeal from a United States District Court, the chief justice may order the case remanded to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals for a final decision there. [183] This has only occurred once in U.S. history, in the case of United States v. Alcoa (1945). [184]

Published opinions Edit

The Court's opinions are published in three stages. First, a slip opinion is made available on the Court's web site and through other outlets. Next, several opinions and lists of the court's orders are bound together in paperback form, called a preliminary print of United States Reports, the official series of books in which the final version of the Court's opinions appears. About a year after the preliminary prints are issued, a final bound volume of U.S. Reports is issued. The individual volumes of U.S. Reports are numbered so that users may cite this set of reports (or a competing version published by another commercial legal publisher but containing parallel citations) to allow those who read their pleadings and other briefs to find the cases quickly and easily.

As of January 2019 [update] , there are:

  • Final bound volumes of U.S. Reports: 569 volumes, covering cases through June 13, 2013 (part of the October 2012 term). [185][186] : 21 volumes (565–585 for 2011–2017 terms, three two-part volumes each), plus part 1 of volume 586 (2018 term). [187]

As of March 2012 [update] , the U.S. Reports have published a total of 30,161 Supreme Court opinions, covering the decisions handed down from February 1790 to March 2012. [ citation needed ] This figure does not reflect the number of cases the Court has taken up, as several cases can be addressed by a single opinion (see, for example, Parents v. Seattle, where Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education was also decided in the same opinion by a similar logic, Miranda v. Arizona actually decided not only Miranda but also three other cases: Vignera v. New York, Westover v. United States, and California v. Stewart). A more unusual example is The Telephone Cases, which are a single set of interlinked opinions that take up the entire 126th volume of the U.S. Reports.

Opinions are also collected and published in two unofficial, parallel reporters: Supreme Court Reporter, published by West (now a part of Thomson Reuters), and United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition (simply known as Lawyers' Edition), published by LexisNexis. In court documents, legal periodicals and other legal media, case citations generally contain cites from each of the three reporters for example, citation to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is presented as Citizens United v. Federal Election Com'n, 585 U.S. 50, 130 S. Ct. 876, 175 L. Ed. 2d 753 (2010), with "S. Ct." representing the Supreme Court Reporter, and "L. Ed." representing the Lawyers' Edition. [188] [189]

Citations to published opinions Edit

The Federal court system and the judicial authority to interpret the Constitution received little attention in the debates over the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. The power of judicial review, in fact, is nowhere mentioned in it. Over the ensuing years, the question of whether the power of judicial review was even intended by the drafters of the Constitution was quickly frustrated by the lack of evidence bearing on the question either way. [190] Nevertheless, the power of judiciary to overturn laws and executive actions it determines are unlawful or unconstitutional is a well-established precedent. Many of the Founding Fathers accepted the notion of judicial review in Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton wrote: "A Constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute."

The Supreme Court firmly established its power to declare laws unconstitutional in Marbury v. Madison (1803), consummating the American system of checks and balances. In explaining the power of judicial review, Chief Justice John Marshall stated that the authority to interpret the law was the particular province of the courts, part of the duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. His contention was not that the Court had privileged insight into constitutional requirements, but that it was the constitutional duty of the judiciary, as well as the other branches of government, to read and obey the dictates of the Constitution. [190]

Since the founding of the republic, there has been a tension between the practice of judicial review and the democratic ideals of egalitarianism, self-government, self-determination and freedom of conscience. At one pole are those who view the Federal Judiciary and especially the Supreme Court as being "the most separated and least checked of all branches of government". [191] Indeed, federal judges and justices on the Supreme Court are not required to stand for election by virtue of their tenure "during good behavior", and their pay may "not be diminished" while they hold their position (Section 1 of Article Three). Though subject to the process of impeachment, only one Justice has ever been impeached and no Supreme Court Justice has been removed from office. At the other pole are those who view the judiciary as the least dangerous branch, with little ability to resist the exhortations of the other branches of government. [190]

The Supreme Court, it is noted, cannot directly enforce its rulings instead, it relies on respect for the Constitution and for the law for adherence to its judgments. One notable instance of nonacquiescence came in 1832, when the state of Georgia ignored the Supreme Court's decision in Worcester v. Georgia. President Andrew Jackson, who sided with the Georgia courts, is supposed to have remarked, "John Marshall has made his decision now let him enforce it!" [192] however, this alleged quotation has been disputed. [ citation needed ] Some state governments in the South also resisted the desegregation of public schools after the 1954 judgment Brown v. Board of Education. More recently, many feared that President Nixon would refuse to comply with the Court's order in United States v. Nixon (1974) to surrender the Watergate tapes. [193] [ citation needed ] Nixon, however, ultimately complied with the Supreme Court's ruling.

Supreme Court decisions can be (and have been) purposefully overturned by constitutional amendment, which has happened on six occasions:

  • Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) – overturned by the Eleventh Amendment (1795)
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) – overturned by the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) and the Fourteenth Amendment (1868)
  • Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. (1895) – overturned by the Sixteenth Amendment (1913)
  • Minor v. Happersett (1875) – overturned by the Nineteenth Amendment (1920)
  • Breedlove v. Suttles (1937) – overturned by the Twenty-fourth Amendment (1964)
  • Oregon v. Mitchell (1970) – overturned by the Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971)

When the Court rules on matters involving the interpretation of laws rather than of the Constitution, simple legislative action can reverse the decisions (for example, in 2009 Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter act, superseding the limitations given in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in 2007). Also, the Supreme Court is not immune from political and institutional consideration: lower federal courts and state courts sometimes resist doctrinal innovations, as do law enforcement officials. [194]

In addition, the other two branches can restrain the Court through other mechanisms. Congress can increase the number of justices, giving the President power to influence future decisions by appointments (as in Roosevelt's Court Packing Plan discussed above). Congress can pass legislation that restricts the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and other federal courts over certain topics and cases: this is suggested by language in Section 2 of Article Three, where the appellate jurisdiction is granted "with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make." The Court sanctioned such congressional action in the Reconstruction case ex parte McCardle (1869), though it rejected Congress' power to dictate how particular cases must be decided in United States v. Klein (1871).

On the other hand, through its power of judicial review, the Supreme Court has defined the scope and nature of the powers and separation between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government for example, in United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (1936), Dames & Moore v. Regan (1981), and notably in Goldwater v. Carter (1979) (where it effectively gave the Presidency the power to terminate ratified treaties without the consent of Congress). The Court's decisions can also impose limitations on the scope of Executive authority, as in Humphrey's Executor v. United States (1935), the Steel Seizure Case (1952), and United States v. Nixon (1974).

Each Supreme Court justice hires several law Clerks to review petitions for writ of certiorari, research them, prepare bench memorandums, and draft opinions. Associate justices are allowed four clerks. The chief justice is allowed five clerks, but Chief Justice Rehnquist hired only three per year, and Chief Justice Roberts usually hires only four. [195] Generally, law clerks serve a term of one to two years.

The first law clerk was hired by Associate Justice Horace Gray in 1882. [195] [196] Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and Louis Brandeis were the first Supreme Court justices to use recent law school graduates as clerks, rather than hiring a "stenographer-secretary". [197] Most law clerks are recent law school graduates.

The first female clerk was Lucile Lomen, hired in 1944 by Justice William O. Douglas. [195] The first African-American, William T. Coleman, Jr., was hired in 1948 by Justice Felix Frankfurter. [195] A disproportionately large number of law clerks have obtained law degrees from elite law schools, especially Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, Columbia, and Stanford. From 1882 to 1940, 62% of law clerks were graduates of Harvard Law School. [195] Those chosen to be Supreme Court law clerks usually have graduated in the top of their law school class and were often an editor of the law review or a member of the moot court board. By the mid-1970s, clerking previously for a judge in a federal court of appeals had also become a prerequisite to clerking for a Supreme Court justice. [198]

Nine Supreme Court justices previously clerked for other justices: Byron White for Frederick M. Vinson, John Paul Stevens for Wiley Rutledge, William Rehnquist for Robert H. Jackson, Stephen Breyer for Arthur Goldberg, John Roberts for William Rehnquist, Elena Kagan for Thurgood Marshall, Neil Gorsuch for both Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, Brett Kavanaugh also for Kennedy, and Amy Coney Barrett for Antonin Scalia. Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh served under Kennedy during the same term. Gorsuch is the first justice to clerk for and subsequently serve alongside the same justice, serving alongside Kennedy from April 2017 through Kennedy's retirement in 2018. With the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, for the first time a majority of the Supreme Court was composed of former Supreme Court law clerks (Roberts, Breyer, Kagan, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, now joined by Barrett).

Politicization of the Court Edit

Clerks hired by each of the justices of the Supreme Court are often given considerable leeway in the opinions they draft. "Supreme Court clerkship appeared to be a nonpartisan institution from the 1940s into the 1980s," according to a study published in 2009 by the law review of Vanderbilt University Law School. [199] [200] "As law has moved closer to mere politics, political affiliations have naturally and predictably become proxies for the different political agendas that have been pressed in and through the courts," former federal court of appeals judge J. Michael Luttig said. [199] David J. Garrow, professor of history at the University of Cambridge, stated that the Court had thus begun to mirror the political branches of government. "We are getting a composition of the clerk workforce that is getting to be like the House of Representatives," Professor Garrow said. "Each side is putting forward only ideological purists." [199]

According to the Vanderbilt Law Review study, this politicized hiring trend reinforces the impression that the Supreme Court is "a superlegislature responding to ideological arguments rather than a legal institution responding to concerns grounded in the rule of law". [199] A poll conducted in June 2012 by The New York Times and CBS News showed just 44% of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing. Three-quarters said justices' decisions are sometimes influenced by their political or personal views. [201] One study, using four-year panel data, found that public opinion of the Supreme Court was highly stable over time. [202]

The Supreme Court has been the object of criticisms on a range of issues. Among them:

Judicial activism Edit

The Supreme Court has been criticized for not keeping within Constitutional bounds by engaging in judicial activism, rather than merely interpreting law and exercising judicial restraint. Claims of judicial activism are not confined to any particular ideology. [203] An often cited example of conservative judicial activism is the 1905 decision in Lochner v. New York, which has been criticized by many prominent thinkers, including Robert Bork, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice John Roberts, [203] [204] and which was reversed in the 1930s. [205] [206] [207]

An often cited example of liberal judicial activism is Roe v. Wade (1973), which legalized abortion on the basis of the "right to privacy" inferred from the Fourteenth Amendment, a reasoning that some critics argued was circuitous. [203] Legal scholars, [208] [209] justices, [210] and presidential candidates [211] have criticized the Roe decision. The progressive Brown v. Board of Education decision banning racial segregation in public schools has been criticized by conservatives such as Patrick Buchanan, [212] former Associate Justice nominee and Solicitor General Robert Bork [213] and former presidential contender Barry Goldwater. [214]

More recently, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was criticized for expanding upon the precedent in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978) that the First Amendment applies to corporations, including campaign spending. [215] President Abraham Lincoln warned, referring to the Dred Scott decision, that if government policy became "irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court. the people will have ceased to be their own rulers." [216] Former justice Thurgood Marshall justified judicial activism with these words: "You do what you think is right and let the law catch up." [217]

During different historical periods, the Court has leaned in different directions. [218] [219] Critics from both sides complain that activist judges abandon the Constitution and substitute their own views instead. [220] [221] [222] Critics include writers such as Andrew Napolitano, [223] Phyllis Schlafly, [224] Mark R. Levin, [225] Mark I. Sutherland, [226] and James MacGregor Burns. [227] [228] Past presidents from both parties have attacked judicial activism, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. [229] [230] Failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork wrote: "What judges have wrought is a coup d'état, – slow-moving and genteel, but a coup d'état nonetheless." [231] Brian Leiter wrote that "Given the complexity of the law and the complexity involved in saying what really happened in a given dispute, all judges, and especially those on the Supreme Court, often have to exercise a quasi-legislative power," and "Supreme Court nominations are controversial because the court is a super-legislature, and because its moral and political judgments are controversial." [232]

Individual rights Edit

Court decisions have been criticized for failing to protect individual rights: the Dred Scott (1857) decision upheld slavery [233] Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) upheld segregation under the doctrine of separate but equal [234] Kelo v. City of New London (2005) was criticized by prominent politicians, including New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, as undermining property rights. [235] [236] Some critics suggest the 2009 bench with a conservative majority has "become increasingly hostile to voters" by siding with Indiana's voter identification laws which tend to "disenfranchise large numbers of people without driver's licenses, especially poor and minority voters", according to one report. [237] Senator Al Franken criticized the Court for "eroding individual rights". [238] However, others argue that the Court is too protective of some individual rights, particularly those of people accused of crimes or in detention. For example, Chief Justice Warren Burger was an outspoken critic of the exclusionary rule, and Justice Scalia criticized the Court's decision in Boumediene v. Bush for being too protective of the rights of Guantanamo detainees, on the grounds that habeas corpus was "limited" to sovereign territory. [239]

Power excess Edit

This criticism is related to complaints about judicial activism. George Will wrote that the Court has an "increasingly central role in American governance". [240] It was criticized for intervening in bankruptcy proceedings regarding ailing carmaker Chrysler Corporation in 2009. [241] A reporter wrote that "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's intervention in the Chrysler bankruptcy" left open the "possibility of further judicial review" but argued overall that the intervention was a proper use of Supreme Court power to check the executive branch. [241] Warren E. Burger, before becoming Chief Justice, argued that since the Supreme Court has such "unreviewable power" it is likely to "self-indulge itself" and unlikely to "engage in dispassionate analysis". [242] Larry Sabato wrote "excessive authority has accrued to the federal courts, especially the Supreme Court." [243]

Courts are a poor check on executive power Edit

British constitutional scholar Adam Tomkins sees flaws in the American system of having courts (and specifically the Supreme Court) act as checks on the Executive and Legislative branches he argues that because the courts must wait, sometimes for years, for cases to navigate their way through the system, their ability to restrain other branches is severely weakened. [244] [245] In contrast, various other countries have a dedicated constitutional court that has original jurisdiction on constitutional claims brought by persons or political institutions for example, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, which can declare a law unconstitutional when challenged.

Federal versus state power Edit

There has been debate throughout American history about the boundary between federal and state power. While Framers such as James Madison [246] and Alexander Hamilton [247] argued in The Federalist Papers that their then-proposed Constitution would not infringe on the power of state governments, [248] [249] [250] [251] others argue that expansive federal power is good and consistent with the Framers' wishes. [252] The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly grants "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The Court has been criticized for giving the federal government too much power to interfere with state authority. One criticism is that it has allowed the federal government to misuse the Commerce Clause by upholding regulations and legislation which have little to do with interstate commerce, but that were enacted under the guise of regulating interstate commerce and by voiding state legislation for allegedly interfering with interstate commerce. For example, the Commerce Clause was used by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the Endangered Species Act, thus protecting six endemic species of insect near Austin, Texas, despite the fact that the insects had no commercial value and did not travel across state lines the Supreme Court let that ruling stand without comment in 2005. [253] Chief Justice John Marshall asserted Congress's power over interstate commerce was "complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations, other than are prescribed in the Constitution". [254] Justice Alito said congressional authority under the Commerce Clause is "quite broad". [255] Modern day theorist Robert B. Reich suggests debate over the Commerce Clause continues today. [254]

Advocates of states' rights such as constitutional scholar Kevin Gutzman have also criticized the Court, saying it has misused the Fourteenth Amendment to undermine state authority. Justice Brandeis, in arguing for allowing the states to operate without federal interference, suggested that states should be laboratories of democracy. [256] One critic wrote "the great majority of Supreme Court rulings of unconstitutionality involve state, not federal, law." [257] However, others see the Fourteenth Amendment as a positive force that extends "protection of those rights and guarantees to the state level". [258] More recently, the issue of federal power is central in the prosecution of Gamble v. United States, which is examining the doctrine of "separate sovereigns", whereby a criminal defendant can be prosecuted by a state court and then by a federal court. [259] [260]

Secretive proceedings Edit

The Court has been criticized for keeping its deliberations hidden from public view. [261] According to a review of Jeffrey Toobin's 2007 expose The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court "Its inner workings are difficult for reporters to cover, like a closed 'cartel', only revealing itself through 'public events and printed releases, with nothing about its inner workings.'" [262] The reviewer writes: "few (reporters) dig deeply into court affairs. It all works very neatly the only ones hurt are the American people, who know little about nine individuals with enormous power over their lives." [262] Larry Sabato complains about the Court's "insularity". [243] A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll conducted in 2010 found that 61% of American voters agreed that televising Court hearings would "be good for democracy", and 50% of voters stated they would watch Court proceedings if they were televised. [263] [264] More recently, several justices have appeared on television, written books and made public statements to journalists. [265] [266] In a 2009 interview on C-SPAN, journalists Joan Biskupic (of USA Today) and Lyle Denniston (of SCOTUSblog) argued that the Court is a "very open" institution with only the justices' private conferences inaccessible to others. [265] In October 2010, the Court began the practice of posting on its website recordings and transcripts of oral arguments on the Friday after they occur.

Judicial interference in political disputes Edit

Some Court decisions have been criticized for injecting the Court into the political arena, and deciding questions that are the purview of the other two branches of government. The Bush v. Gore decision, in which the Supreme Court intervened in the 2000 presidential election and effectively chose George W. Bush over Al Gore, has been criticized extensively, particularly by liberals. [262] [267] [268] [269] [270] [271] Another example are Court decisions on apportionment and re-districting: in Baker v. Carr, the court decided it could rule on apportionment questions Justice Frankfurter in a "scathing dissent" argued against the court wading into so-called political questions. [272]

Not choosing enough cases to review Edit

Senator Arlen Specter said the Court should "decide more cases". [238] On the other hand, although Justice Scalia acknowledged in a 2009 interview that the number of cases that the Court heard then was smaller than when he first joined the Supreme Court, he also stated that he had not changed his standards for deciding whether to review a case, nor did he believe his colleagues had changed their standards. He attributed the high volume of cases in the late 1980s, at least in part, to an earlier flurry of new federal legislation that was making its way through the courts. [265]

Lifetime tenure Edit

Critic Larry Sabato wrote: "The insularity of lifetime tenure, combined with the appointments of relatively young attorneys who give long service on the bench, produces senior judges representing the views of past generations better than views of the current day." [243] Sanford Levinson has been critical of justices who stayed in office despite medical deterioration based on longevity. [273] James MacGregor Burns stated lifelong tenure has "produced a critical time lag, with the Supreme Court institutionally almost always behind the times". [227] Proposals to solve these problems include term limits for justices, as proposed by Levinson [274] and Sabato [243] [275] as well as a mandatory retirement age proposed by Richard Epstein, [276] among others. [277] However, others suggest lifetime tenure brings substantial benefits, such as impartiality and freedom from political pressure. Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 78 wrote "nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence as permanency in office." [278]

Accepting gifts and outside income Edit

The 21st century has seen increased scrutiny of justices accepting expensive gifts and travel. All of the members of the Roberts Court have accepted travel or gifts. [279] In 2012, Justice Sonia Sotomayor received $1.9 million in advances from her publisher Knopf Doubleday. [280] Justice Scalia and others took dozens of expensive trips to exotic locations paid for by private donors. [281] Private events sponsored by partisan groups that are attended by both the justices and those who have an interest in their decisions have raised concerns about access and inappropriate communications. [282] Stephen Spaulding, the legal director at Common Cause, said: "There are fair questions raised by some of these trips about their commitment to being impartial." [281]


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