THE SUPREME COURT OF THE USA UNIT 13
I Answer the following questions: • 1. What is the hierarchy of the courts of general jurisdiction in the Republic of Croatia? • 2. What is the main task of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia? • 3. How is the right to a fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution of the USA?
Part One • Functions and StructureoftheSupreme Court
Preview • Thefederalcourt system • ThepositionoftheSupreme Court • Compositionofthe Court • Judicialreview • Marbury v Madison • Jurisdiction • Procedures • Cases
The Federal Court System • The U.S. Constitution -the supreme law of the land in the United States. • It creates a federal system of government in which power is shared between the federal government and the state governments. • Due to federalism, both the federal government and each of the state governments have their own court systems.
The Federal Court System • The federal court system has 3main levels: • 1. district courts (the trial court) (94) • 2. courts of appeals(13) • 3. the Supreme Court of the United States (1) • There are 94 district courts, 13 courts of appeals and one Supreme Court throughout the country.
The position of the Supreme Court • The highest court in the USA for all cases and controversies arising under the Constitution or the laws of the US. • As the final arbiter of the law, the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution. • Few other courts in the world have the same authority of constitutional interpretation and none have exercised it for as long or with as much influence.
The position of the Supreme Court • The unique position of the Supreme Court stems, in large part, from the commitment to the rule of law and to constitutional government. • The United States has demonstrated determination to preserve and protect its written Constitution, providing the American "experiment in democracy" with the oldest written Constitution still in force.
Structure • The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the US and such number of Associate Justices as may be fixed by Congress. • The number of Associate Justices -currently fixed at 8.
Judicialnominations • Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the US • Appointmentsare made with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Termofoffice • Article III: "the Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."
Judicial review • The complex role of the Supreme Court in this system derives from its authority to invalidate legislation or executive actions which, in the Court's considered judgment, conflict with the Constitution. • Thepower of "judicial review" has given the Court a crucial responsibility in ensuring individual rights, as well as in maintaining a "living Constitution" whose broad provisions are continually applied to complicated new situations.
Judicialreview: history • While the function of judicial review is not explicitly provided for in the Constitution, it had been anticipated before the adoption of that document. • Before1789, state courts had already overturned legislative acts which conflicted with state constitutions
Judicialreview: history • Many Founding Fathers expected the Supreme Court to assume this role in regard to the Constitution. • Alexander Hamilton and James Madisonunderlined the importance of judicial review in the Federalist Papers, which urged the adoption of the Constitution. • Hamilton:through the practice of judicial review the Court ensured that the will of the whole people, as expressed in their Constitution, would be supreme over the will of a legislature, whose statutes might express only the temporary will of part of the people.
Marbury v. Madison • The Court's power of judicial review was not confirmed until 1803, when it was invoked by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison. • In this decision, the Chief Justice asserted that the Supreme Court's responsibility to overturn unconstitutional legislation was a necessary consequence of its sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. • That oath could not be fulfilled any other way. "It is emphatically the province of the judicial department to say what the law is," he declared.
Functions • The Court does not give advisory opinions; its function is limited only to deciding specific cases. • The Justices must exercise considerable discretion in deciding which cases to hear, since more than 10,000 civil and criminal cases are filed tothe Supreme Court each year from the various state and federal courts.
Original jurisdiction • The Supreme Court has "original jurisdiction" in a very small number of cases arising out of disputes between States or between a State and the Federal Government (original cases).
Appellatejurisdiction • The Court has appellate jurisdiction (the Court can hear the case on appeal) on almost any case that involves a point of constitutional and/or federal law.
Constitutionalissues • When the Supreme Court rules on a constitutional issue,thejudgment is virtually final; • Itsdecisions can be altered only by the rarely used procedure of constitutional amendment or by a new ruling of the Court. • When the Court interprets a statute, new legislative action can be taken.
Procedures • A Term of the Supreme Court begins, by statute, on the first Monday in October. • Usually Court sessions continue until late June or early July. • The Term is divided between "sittings," when the Justices hear cases and deliver opinions, and intervening "recesses," when they consider the business before the Court and write opinions. • Sittings and recesses alternate at approximately two-week intervals.
Procedures • With rare exceptions, each side is allowed 30 minutes argument and up to 24 cases may be argued at one sitting. • Since mostcases involve the review of a decision of some other court, there is no jury and no witnesses • For each case, the Court has before it a record of prior proceedings and printed briefs containing the arguments of each side.
Procedures • Prior to hearing oral argument, other business of the Court is transacted. • On Monday mornings this includes the release of an Order List, a public report of Court actions including the acceptance and rejection of cases, and the admission of new members to the Court Bar. • Opinions are released on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and on the third Monday of each sitting, when the Court takes the Bench but no arguments are heard.
Procedures • The Court maintains this schedule each Term until all cases ready for submission have been heard and decided. • In May and June the Court sits only to announce orders and opinions. • The Court recesses at the end of June, but the work of the Justices is unceasing. • During the summer they continue to analyze new petitions for review, consider motions and applications, and must make preparations for cases scheduled for fall argument.
The First Amendment • Guaranteesfreedomofreligion • ProhibitsCongressoranystatefrommakinglawswhichinterferewith a citizen’sright to ecercisehisreligionfreely (free exerciseclause) • Neitherthefederalgovernmentnoranystategovernmentmayengageinanyofficialactwhichwouldpromoteorestablish a particularreligion (establishmentclause)
The First Amendment • Whereas a citizen’sright to holdanyreligiousbeliefisabosolutelyprotected, there are limitsplaced on theright to engageincertainreligiousactivitiesiftheyendanger a publicinterest (e.g. polygamyandtheceremonial use ofdrugs)
The First Amendment • Alsoprotectsfreedomofspeechandfreedomofthe press • Everycitizenhastheright to advocateanybelief, ideaorideologypublicly, no matter how unpopular • Freedomofspeechandfreedomofthe press – notabsolute
The First Amendment • Categoriesofspeechexcludedfromprotection: • 1) speechwhichcreates „a clearandpresent” dangeroflawlessaction • 2) the use ofpersonallyabusivewordswhihcouldlead to physicalretaliation • 3) obscenity • 4) defamation • 5) deceptiveorfalseadvertising
TheFourthAmendment • Prohibitsunreasonablesearchesandseizures • Evidenceseizedinanillegalsearch – inadmissible at trial („exclusionaryrule”)
The Fifth Amendment • A personaccusedof a crimemaynotbetriedtwice for the same offence: no doublejeopardy • He maynotbecompelled to be a witnessagainsthimself: no self-incrimination • No personmay “bedeprivedoflife, liberty, orpropertywithoutdueprocessoflaw
TheSixthAmendment • Rights of accused persons: • Right to a speedy trial, to impartial jury, defense councel • To know the charges against him, confront hostile witnesses, and obtain friendly witnesses
TheEighthAmendment • Prohibits „cruelandunusual” punishmentofpeopleconvictedofcrimes • Thepunishment must fit thecrime • Deathpunishment for murder – notconsideredbytheSupreme Court as cruelandunusualpunishment
TheFourteenthAmendment • Dueprocessandequalprotectionofthelawsclauses • Proceduraldueprocess – a fair hearing, procedure orproceedingwillbeafforded to theindividualbeforethefederalorstategovernmentcandeprivehimoflife, libertyorproperty • Substantivedueprocess – providestheindividualwiththesubstantiveright to challengearbitrarygovernmentalaction
TheFourteenthAmendment • Theequalprotectionclauseallowscitizens to challengecertaingovernmentalactionandlegislation, whentheactionorlegislationarbitrarilyclassifiespeopleinsuch a waythatonly one classorgroupofpeopleisdeprivedof a rightorsingledout for separate treatment
PROTECTION OF RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES • Rights and liberties – duties: • Freedom of speech: duty to speak honestly and with a full knowledge of the facts • Freedom of religion: duty to respect the freedom of others whose religion is different • The right to vote: duty to know the candidates and the issues in an election • The right to trial by jury: duty to respond willingly when called for jury service
DECLARING FEDERAL LAWS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: Dred Scott vs. Sanford (1857) • Issue: Dred Scott, a negro slave, taken by his master to the Minnesota region (according to the 1820 Missouri Compromise a free territory) • Then brought back to Missouri, a slave state. • To create a test case, the abolitionists had Dred Scott sue for his freedom on the grounds that his residence in free territory had made him a free man
Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) • Decision: Chief Justice Roger Taney stated that a Negro slave was not a citizen and could not bring suit for his freedom in a federal court. • This statement would have sufficed to conclude the case. Taney, however, wanted to end the slavery controversy by a judicial pronouncement.
Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) • Conclusions: • A) slaves are property • B) Congress may not deprive any person of the right to take property into federal territories, and consequently: • C) The Missouri Compromise, a federal law which prohibited slavery in part of the Louisiana Territory, was declared unconstitutional
CONSEQUENCES -The South elated, the North indignant - Northern newspapers: the decision “is the Moral Assassination of a Race and Cannot be Obeyed” - The decision: 1) blackened Taney’s reputation, 2) did not prevent the Civil War, 3) temporarily weakened but did not destroy the power and prestige of the Supreme Court.
DECLARING STATE LAWS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: Gibbons vs. Ogden (1824) • Issue: Aaron Ogden, operating under a New York State monopoly grant, ran a ferry on the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. • Thomas Gibbons ran a competing line under a federal license. • Ogden sued to halt Gibbons; won in the New York State court • The case - appealed to the Supreme Court
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) • Decision: New York’s grant of a Hudson River monopoly to Ogden declared invalid. • The grant violated the Constitution’s delegation of interstate commerce to federal control. • The decision prepared the way for federal regulation of railroads, buses, airlines, radio and television broadcasting, business organizations, etc. when engaged in interstate commerce
AMENDMENT XIV Protection of Civil Liberties Against State Infringment (1868) • Section 1. Definition of Citizenship: Due Process of Law and Equal Protection of the Laws. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
REVERSALSSegregation: Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) • TheSupreme Court by 8 to 1 heldconstitutional a Louisianalawrequiringsegregationby race ofrailroadpassengers; • didnotviolatethe “equalprotectionofthelaws”clauseinthe 14th Amendment (1868) providedthatfacilitieswere separate but equal • Thelonedissenter, Justice John MarshallHarlan: thattheseparationofcitizens on thebasisof race isinconsistentwithequalitybeforethelaw: “ourConstitutioniscolor-blind, and neitherknowsnortoleratesclassesamongcitizens.”
Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) • Mexican-American children – kept in segregated schools with inferior facilities • Chicano leaders demanded upgrading of facilities, bilingual teachers: instruction in Spanish, the teaching of English as a second language, courses in Chicano history and culture
Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) • The Supreme Court unanimously held that racial segregation in public schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment • Southern state legislatures protested that the Federal Government has no Constitutional power over education • States – control education, but must provide all children with “equal protection of the law”
Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) • “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. This disposition makes unnecessary any discussion whether such segregation also violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”
PROTECTION OF RIGHTS AND LIBERTIESFreedom of Speech and Press: Feiner vs. New York (1951) • Issue: Irving Feiner, a university student, urged Negroes to “rise up in arms and fight for their rights” • Requested by the police to stop, he refused and was arrested. • F. appealed his conviction for disorderly conduct as a violation of his freedom of speech
Feiner vs. New York (1951) • By a 6 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction • Speaking for the majority, Chief Justice Fred Vinson declared that Feiner had attempted “incitement to riot” and created a “clear danger of public disorder”
Freedom of ReligionEngel vs. Vitale (1962) • Issue: Steven Engel and other parents, representing various religious views, sued to stop the New Hyde Park, New York, school board from requiring their children to recite a short, nondenominational prayer. The parents claimed that by the so-called “Regents’ Prayer”, New York State was “establishing” a religion
Engel vs. Vitale • Majority opinion: that the “Regents’ Prayer” was a religious activity sponsored by New York State and that while not a “total establishment of one particular religious sect to the exclusion of all others,” it was a dangerous step in violation of the First Amendment • The Supreme Court, by 6 to 1, held the “Regents’ Prayer” unconstitutional