Structure of the Federal Courts Supreme Choice Process & Politics of Presidential Nominations to the Supreme Court Chapter 16, Themes B & C
Pop Quiz 16: Define each of the following terms: 1. Writ of certiorari 2. Litmus Test 3. Standing 4. In forma pauperis 5. Senatorial courtesy 6. Sovereign Immunity • Using a blue slip to reject nominees from the state • Examination of a judicial nominee’s ideology • A case authorized as having legal merit • A petition to waive the filing fee • An order to send up records & documents from lower courts • The Rule that the federal government can’t be sued without its consent
Exclusive Jurisdiction • The Federal Court system has exclusive jurisdiction over: • Federal question cases: involving the U.S. Constitution, federal law, or treaties • Diversity cases: involving different states, or citizens of different states • The Federal District Courts have original jurisdiction over these cases. The SCOTUS has appellate jurisdiction over the District & US Court of Appeals.
The Federal Courts • Federal District Courts: • Have original jurisdiction in most federal criminal & civil cases. • 94 districts, at least one per state. • Nearest courthouse is Elizabeth City. • Are “work horses of the federal system.” Most cases heard here. • Only federal court where a jury trial is held. All others have bench trials.
The Federal Courts • US Court of Appeals: • 12 regular circuits, including 1 in D.C. • Judges sit in panels of 3. • Have only appellate jurisdiction. (Hear only appeals.) • NC in Circuit 4, centered in Richmond, VA. • The 13th circuit or “Federal Circuit” was created in 1982 in Washington, DC to hear civil appeals from several courts & the Patent Office.
The Federal Courts • Legislative Courts: Help Congress exercise its power: • US Claims Ct.: Hear money suits vs. US (Civil Court) • US Tax Ct.: Hear civil disputes with IRS (Civil Court) • Ct. of Military Appeals: Also called GI’s Supreme Court (Criminal Appeals) • Ct. of Veteran Appeals: Hear disputes over benefits with the Dept. of VA (Civil Court) • Territorial Courts: Run like state courts. Territories are US Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, N. Marianas Islands. (Criminal, Civil, Territorial Constitutional) • DC Courts: Run like municipal courts in most large cities. (Civil & Criminal Courts)
Appellate Jurisdiction Cases • SCOTUS hears appeals from the 13 circuits of the US Court of appeals: • Usually after diversity of rulings between circuits • Matters of public policy disputes • Some cases that begin in state courts can be appealed to the Supreme Court • Involves a constitutional question • Involves a federal law • Involves state court striking down a federal law
State Route Federal Route
SCOTUS Original Jurisdiction • Controversies between two state governments can only be heard by the Supreme Court • Controversies involving foreign diplomats can only be heard by the Supreme Court • Controversies between the US and a state • See Chart!
Appointments to the Federal Bench • Review process. • What is senatorial courtesy & when is it used? • Counter to Constitution? • When is this practice irrelevant? • Why is appointing a Justice so scrutinized today?
Analyzing Political Cartoons • For each cartoon, discuss the following: • What is the message of the cartoon? • Does this have a liberal, conservative or neutral slant? • What events might have prompted this cartoon to be published?
Political Cartoon ATitle: The Supreme Court Location • Mike Keefe, The Denver Post, Oct. 6, 2004 • http://cagle.slate.msn.com/politicalcartoons/
Political Cartoon BTitle: High Stakes Supreme Court Seat • February 19, 2016 http://bokbluster.com/
Political Cartoon CTitle: Qualifications 05/2009 • www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/frugal-blog
Political Cartoon DTitle: Supreme Court - 31 Flavors • Robert Ariail, The State, Aug. 10, 2005 • http://cagle.slate.msn.com/politicalcartoons/
Political Cartoon ETitle: The Confirmation Process • www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/frugal-blog
Political Cartoon FTitle: Go My Pretties! • Henry Payne, The Detroit News, Aug. 11, 2005 • http://cagle.slate.msn.com/politicalcartoons/
Political Cartoon GTitle: Supreme Court Exam • Jimmy Margulies, New Jersey -- The Record, Aug. 11, 2005 • http://cagle.slate.msn.com/politicalcartoons/
Political Cartoon HTitle: Senate Republicans rule out action Posted on February 23, 2016 www.ncrenegade.com
Party affiliation (80% or higher) Judicial Philosophy “Litmus Test”- where nominees stand on controversial issues like abortion Background of nominee (education, experience, race, gender, ethnicity, etc.) Cultivating political support Political favors Interest group input American Bar Association certification Securing a “safe” nominee Factors That Influence Supreme Court Nominations
The U.S. Constitution and the Appointment of Supreme Court Justices Article II, Section 2 describes the appointment powers of the President: “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate …to… nominate Judges of the Supreme Court….”
Stage 1: Presidential Nomination MEDIA Influence WHITE HOUSE REVIEW FBI Investigation Certification INTEREST GROUP Influence U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process Stage 2: Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Stage 3: Full Senate Vote Stage 4: Oath of Office?
U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process Stage 1 Presidential Nomination • White House staff reviews candidates and submits a short list to president • FBI background investigation • Candidates submit financial disclosure forms • ABA grades candidates • Interest groups weigh in on candidates • President selects nominee
U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process Stage 2 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings • Senate Judiciary members and their staffs review candidate’s background (may conduct own investigation) • Interest groups may conduct campaigns for or against nominee (including TV ads) • Intense media attention to Senate hearings • Senate Judiciary Committee questions candidate on judicial philosophy, stands on key issues, etc. • Judiciary Committee votes up or down on nominee and sends recommendation to full Senate
U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process Stage 3 Full Senate Vote • Floor debate on nominee • Confirmation vote by full Senate
U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process Stage 4 Oath of Office • If confirmed by the Senate, nominee sworn in, usually by Chief Justice • Once on the Court, justices often make decisions on the bench very different from what the nominating President had anticipated independent judiciary
So…what happens with just 8? • If the SCOTUS ends in a tie, the appellate court’s decisions stand. This is a form of stare decisis. • If you have 2 different rulings in 2 different circuits, the law may be applied differently in those areas. • If the Senate goes out of session for more than 3 days, Pres. Obama could do a recess appointment. • Pres. Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, but the Senate refuses to give a hearing.
I will take this case all the way to the Supreme Court … • Start 1st Monday in October and runs through June (36 weeks). • “Rule of Four” to hear a case • Annual docket submissions=8,000 cases • Fewer than 100 heard or reviewed, only 75-80 written opinions/year • $300 filing fee • In forma pauperis outnumber 3-1 • Quorum = 6
Why so few cases to SCOTUS? • Expensive: What kinds of costs are involved? • In forma pauperis cases more common • Fee shifting (esp. Section 1983 cases) increasing • Standing: Controversy, harm & remedy • Taxpayers have limited rights • Sovereign immunity rare • Lengthy: Process can take years! • Class Action lawsuits now limited by rules
Assignment • Read pp. 455-463. Take notes on process of hearing cases and focus on the powers and limits of the Courts. Also, take down important vocabulary & cases relating to the topics. Due Tuesday! • Be working on templates. See website & your e-mail for instructions, rubric, template, and list of cases by subject. These are due shared no later than 3:00 on April 15th!