Americangovernment Unit 4
Lesson 25pages 177-182 What is the role of the Supreme Court in the American Constitutional System? • Objective: Explain the Supreme Court’s original and appellate jurisdictions. Explain four methods of constitutional interpretation. Explain how America’s system of checks and balances limits the power of the Supreme Court.
What are the constitutional powers of the Supreme Court? • Article III: • Created Supreme Court • Congress has the power to create lower courts • Federal judges- lifetime terms • Jurisdiction to decided certain cases: • National laws • Citizens from more than one state • Trial by jury in criminal cases (except impeachment) • Judicial review
What are the constitutional powers of the Supreme Court? • Original Jurisdiction: power of a court to pass judgment on both the facts of a case and the law • Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls – controversies to which the US shall be party • Only court to hear these cases. • Very few cases • Congress can’t change the SC’s original jurisdiction. • Typically foreign diplomats or disputes between states such as land boundaries, mineral rights, water rights.
What are the constitutional powers of the Supreme Court? • Appellate Jurisdiction: power to revise and review decisions of a lower court • Federal district courts in every state and the 13 circuit courts. • If a litigant loses in a lower court it will ask the Supreme Court to hear the case. • File a petition or request for a writ of certiorari. • They do not have to hear the case. If they do decide to hear it, proceedings will begin.
What are the constitutional powers of the Supreme Court? • Every year the Supreme Court receives thousands of petitions. They accept only a few cases: • 1980- 232 cases • 1995- 95 cases • 2006- 72 cases • Most cases require the Court to interpret only the meaning of statutes or administrative rules, not their constitutionality.
What methods are used to interpret the Constitution? • Supreme Court issues written opinions explaining its decision. • Majority opinion • Concurring opinion • Dissenting opinion • Public record • Serves as precedent for future cases.
What methods are used to interpret the Constitution? • 1. Textualism, literalism, or strict construction: • Meaning of words • Plain meaning keeps the court neutral • **makes laws Certain and predictiable.
What methods are used to interpret the Constitution? • 2. Original intent or original history: • Related to meaning, but included the question of how to interpret words, phrases or clauses. • What did the founders mean? • **helps to maintain stability and neutrality in the law.
What methods are used to interpret the Constitution? • 3. Fundamental principles: • Natural rights, republican government ideals, limited government. • To interpret the meaning of words, phrases and clauses that may not be clear. • **identifying the fundamental principles is a useful way to determine the meaning of words, phrases or clauses that may not be clear.
What methods are used to interpret the Constitution? • 4. Modernism or instrumentalism: • This method starts from the premise that the Constitution should be interpreted and it should adapt to changing circumstances and contemporary needs. • Otherwise Constitution would have to be amended frequently or new constitutional conventions would be needed. • **justices should not hold back social progress by adhering to outdated understandings of the Constitution.
What checks exist on the power of the Supreme Court? • 1.Self-imposed limits: • Avoid partisan politics • Avoids questions that it believes other branches of gov’t should answer • Decides only cases in controversy • Does not issue advisory opinions only interprets if a particular case is before them. • 2. Presidential Appointments: • Seek to influence courts with their nominees • Changes approaches and attitudes
What checks exist on the power of the Supreme Court? • 3. Congressional Powers: • Congress determines their appellate jurisdiction and controls the budget • If congress disagrees with a decision they may pass another version of the bill to get around it • Alters the size of the Court • Can determine when the Court meets or suspend a term of the Court • Constitutional Amendments
5. Executive Enforcement: • 4. Executive Enforcement: • President and Administrative agencies enforce the Court’s decisions • Sometimes presidents threaten to refuse to enforce or do so reluctantly
5. Executive Enforcement: • 5. Federalism: • States are also responsible to implement the courts decisions. • Sometimes enforcement is lax • Example: Brown v. Board of Education
Finishing up! Reflect. Work on Project!