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The Judicial Branch. Unit 4. The creation of The Federal Court System. The Constitution granted: The Supreme Court Appellate jurisdiction The Supreme Court Original jurisdiction over a select few issues Congress the power to create lower courts The Judiciary Act of 1789 created:

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the creation of the federal court system
The creation ofThe Federal Court System

The Constitution granted:

  • The Supreme Court Appellate jurisdiction
  • The Supreme Court Original jurisdiction over a select few issues
  • Congress the power to create lower courts

The Judiciary Act of 1789 created:

  • The Federal Court System

Marbury vs. Madison (1803) gave:

  • The power of judicial review
lower courts
Lower Courts

District Courts:

  • Possess original jurisdiction over most cases heard in the federal courts
  • Will hear both criminal and civil cases
  • Only federal court to use juries
  • 94 district courts in the U.S.

Courts of Appeals:

  • Possess appellate jurisdiction
  • 13 courts in the U.S.
special courts
Special Courts
  • Court of Federal Claims
  • Territorial courts
  • Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
  • U.S. Tax Court
marbury vs madison
Marbury vs. Madison



  • Supreme Court cannot stop Jefferson
  • Supreme Court gives itself the power of Judicial Review
“It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each.

So if a law be in opposition to the constitution; if both the law and the constitution apply to a particular case, so that the court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the constitution; or conformably to the constitution, disregarding the law; the court must determine which of  these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty.

If then the courts are to regard the constitution; and the constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature; the constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.

federal district jurisdiction
Federal District Jurisdiction

Original jurisdiction

  • Any interpretation or application of the U.S. Constitution, federal law, or treaty
  • Any question of maritime law
  • A case involving The United States, a U.S. official, or U.S. agency
  • Disputes between U.S. citizens of different states
  • Civil suits under federal law
civil law v criminal law
Criminal Law

Offense against Society.


Jail, fine, or death.

Burden of Proof:

“Beyond a reasonable doubt (98%-99%).”

Civil Law

Offense against an individual or organization.


No jail. Just reimbursement for loss

Burden of Proof:

“Preponderance of the evidence (50%+)”

Civil Law v. Criminal Law
supreme court jurisdiction
Supreme Court Jurisdiction

Original jurisdiction

  • A case involving a foreign diplomat
  • Disputes between states
  • Disputes between the U.S. and a state
  • Disputes between U.S. citizens of different states
  • Appointed by the President and approved by the Senate
  • Constitutional Court judges serve a life term
  • Special Court judges have term limits
  • Judges can only be removed if they retire, die, or are impeached by the Senate

Formal: Constitution…



  • Competence
  • Ideology
  • Political rewards
  • Political pressure
  • Religion
  • Race/ethnicity/gender
nomination process
Nomination process
  • FBI background check
  • ABA approval
  • Senate Judiciary Committee investigation
  • Senate Judiciary Committee hearing
  • Senate Judiciary Committee vote
  • Senate vote for approval
the supreme court
The Supreme Court
  • Consists of 9 justices
  • The final authority over all legal questions in the U.S.
supreme court s process
Supreme Court’s process
  • The case is decided in either the State Supreme courts or a lower Federal court
  • Either side in a case requests a writ of certiorari (an order by the Supreme Court to the lower courts to send up all info regarding the case)
  • The Supreme Court will:
    • Act on stare decisis
    • Send the case back to the lower-court for reconsideration
    • Act on the Rule of 4
supreme court s process1
Supreme Court’s process
  • Briefs are filed by the lawyers
    • Amicus Curiae briefs are filed
  • Oral arguments are made by lawyers for both sides
  • The justices meet in a closed conference to discuss and debate the case (a majority vote decides the case)
supreme court s decision
Supreme Court’s decision

When the opinion of the court is reached a justice in the majority opinion is assigned to write The Majority Opinion

  • The majority opinion is based on precedence and will become precedence for future cases
  • Concurring opinions can be written by justices who agree with the majority in order to add emphasis
  • Justices who disagree with the majority opinion can write a Dissenting opinions (important incase the Supreme court reverses its own opinion in the future)