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Unit Five The Judicial Branch

Unit Five The Judicial Branch

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Unit Five The Judicial Branch

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  1. Unit FiveThe Judicial Branch Chapter 11: The Federal Court System Chapter 12: Supreme Court Decision Making

  2. Articles of Confederation1781-1789 • This had no national courts. • The states all interpreted laws. • US realized they needed a national ct. • Alexander Hamilton said, • “Laws are dead letters without courts to expound and define their true meaning and operation.”

  3. The Creation of the National Judiciary • Article Three • “The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” • Two separate court systems in the US • National system of courts • Span the country, more than 100 of them. • Each of 50 States have their own court system. • These hear most cases in the country, 1000s of them.

  4. Creation of the National Judiciary (cont.) • Congress can create inferior courts. • There are two kinds of inferior courts: • Constitutional courts (aka: Regular cts.) • Exercise the judicial power of the U.S. • Hear federal court cases. • Include: The Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the District Courts, the Court of International Trade • Special Courts (aka: Legislative Courts.) • Created by Congress • Hear only a limited range of specialized cases • Include: Court of Appeals for Armed Forces, Court of Veterans Appeals, Claims Court, Tax Courts, Courts of Washington D.C.

  5. Jurisdiction • Jurisdiction is the authority of a ct. to hear & decide a case; the power “to say the law.” • Exclusive Jurisdiction • Cases heard only in federal courts. • Concurrent Jurisdiction • A case that can be heard in state/federal court. • Original Jurisdiction • A court hears a case for the 1st time at trial level. • Appellate Jurisdiction • A court that hears a case on appeal from a lower court has this, and can overrule an original.

  6. Jurisdiction in the Federal Courts • Federal courts can hear cases that deal with the interpretation and application of a provision of the Constitution or of any federal statute or treaty. • They can also hear cases that arise on the high seas or in navigable waters of the United States.

  7. Appointment of Judges • Federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by Senate. • Review Senatorial Courtesy • Presidents will nominate… • Someone from their political party • Someone who shares their legal and political ideology • Federal judges have come from: • Leading attorneys, legal scholars, law school profs., congressional members, & state justices.

  8. Most federal judges are appointed for life and may be removed only through the impeachment process. Only 13 ever impeached and 7 removed. Congress sets the judicial salaries and benefits. Associate Justices of Supreme Ct - $173,600. Chief Justice: $181,400. They can retire at 70, if they served 10 years, and receive full salary for ever! Or at 65, with 15 years of service. Terms and Pay of Judges

  9. Court Officers • Each district court has many officials who assist the district judge. • These include clerks, bailiffs, stenographers, magistrates, bankruptcy judges, United States attorneys, and federal marshals.

  10. 94 District courts (states have at least 1) Cali, NY, Texas – have four! 550 district judges hear 80% of the federal caseload. Trial courts for criminal and civil federal cases. Have original jurisdiction over most of the cases heard in the federal courts. There are 12 circuits (regions) in U.S. States are divided up into these. (AL, GA, FL in circuit 11) Use grand and petit juries: Grand: 16-23 people, hear charges against a person for a crime, if they feel there is evidence they issue: Indictment – formal accusation charging a person with a crime. Petit: 6-12 people, trial jury. Weigh evidence presented at a trial in a criminal or civil case. Jury duty… The District Courts

  11. The Court of Appeals • Courts of appeals were created in 1891 as “gatekeepers” to the Supreme Court. • There are now 13 courts of appeals. • 12 – 1 per each circuit • #13 – special appeals court, national jurisdiction • Usually 3 judges sit per panel. • 55,000 cases per year.

  12. Legal terms • Before we move on to the Supreme Court, let’s see what we have learned from Detectives Benson and Stabler on Law and Order! • Take five minutes and try to answer all of the questions on the handout, individually!

  13. The Supreme CourtBack row left to right: Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito.Front row left to right: Anthony Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, * John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, David Souter

  14. John Roberts ReplacedNew Chief JusticeWilliam Rehnquist

  15. Samuel Alito Replaced New Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

  16. How they tend to vote • Conservative • Clarence Thomas • John Roberts (replaced W. Rehnquist) • Antonin Scalia • Samuel Alito (replaced O’Connor) • Liberal/Moderate • David Souter • Ruth Bader Ginsburg • Stephen Breyer • John Paul Stephens • Swing • Anthony Kennedy • Sandra Day O’Connor (retired)

  17. Judicial Review • The power to decide on the constitutionality of an act of government. • The case of Marbury vs. Madison, (1803) established this concept. • The Supreme Court has great powers… • As the ultimate authority on constitutionality • As the arbiter of disputes between States and between States and the Federal Gov’t.

  18. Supreme Court’s Jurisdiction • The Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction, but most of its cases are appeals. • Can’t initiate action, must wait for Litigants: • People engaged in a lawsuit to come before them. • Today, the Supreme Court has almost complete control over its own caseload.

  19. Main duties: • Making Decisions: • Decide which case to hear • Decide the case itself • Determine an explanation for the decision, called the opinion • Protecting civil liberties.

  20. Protector of Civil Liberties • What are civil liberties? • Where do they come from? • When learning about various Supreme Court Cases, please think back to what civil liberties are involved?

  21. How does a case get there? • In 2000, more than 8,900 cases appealed • “The Rule of Four” • At least four judges must agree that the Court should hear a case before that case is selected for the Court’s docket. • Writ of Certiorari • How most cases reach the court. • An order to a lower court to send up the record in a given case. • By Certificate • When appellate cts, State supreme cts, or others request a ruling on a particular point of law.

  22. The S. Court at work! • Oral Arguments • Lawyers speak to the justices, emphasizing the major points they made in their written briefs. • Briefs • Written documents supporting one side of a case, submitted before oral arguments are held. • Solicitor General • Represents the US before the S.Ct. in all cases to which it is a party. • The Conference • The justices meet in secret session to discuss in depth and vote on the cases they have heard.

  23. Opinions • Justices of the S. Ct. always write the Opinion of the Courts. • Majority Opinions • Concurring Opinions • Disagree with reasoning • Dissenting Opinions • Disagree w/ major opinion, discusses minority opinion • Plurality Opinions • We agree but…, doesn’t rep a majority • All opinions may have an influence on subsequent rulings.

  24. Special Courts

  25. The United States Claims Court • The United States may be sued only if it gives its consent. • The Claims Court hears cases from all over the county in which there are claims for damages against the Federal Government.

  26. The Territorial Courts • Under the Constitution, Congress created courts for the nation’s territories. • The courts operate much like local courts in the State systems.

  27. The Court of Appeals for Armed Forces • 5 civilian judges appointed • 15 year terms • This court hears appeals from court-martial convictions and is usually the court of last resort for members of the armed forces.

  28. The Court of Veterans Appeals • 7 judges appointed by President • Serve 15 year terms • They hear appeals from veterans who claim that the Veteran’s Administration has mishandled their cases.

  29. The United States Tax Court • 19 judges, appointed by President • 12 year terms • The Tax Court hears only civil cases involving disputes over the application of tax laws.