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Supreme Court

Supreme Court

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Supreme Court

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Presentation Transcript

  1. Supreme Court Judiciary – The cornerstone of our democracy

  2. Judicial Review • Marbury v. Madison (1803) • Allows the courts to rule on the constitutionality of laws, giving the court the power to strike down or reinforce policy • Judiciary Act of 1789 and the writ of mandamus

  3. Federal Court System • Step 1 – DISTRICT COURTS • 94 US Dist. – Hear 342,000 cases/yr • Trial by jury (only federal court with jury) • Step 2 – APPEAL (CIRCUIT) COURTS • 12 Courts of Appeal – Hear 61,000 cases/yr • Panel of 3 judges, sometimes more • No cases start here, review district court decisions • (MI, OH, KY, TN in the 6th District)

  4. Federal Court System • Step 3 – US Supreme Court • 2003 – Argued 84 cases, decided 71 • Hear appeals – writ of certiorari • Rule of 4 – 4 justices needed to agree to hear a case Chief Justice John Roberts

  5. Types of Opinions • When an opinion is written (a decision), it often takes months and many drafts • Majority Opinion – justices in the majority must draft an opinion setting out the reasons for their decision • Concurring Opinion – justices who agree for other reasons can give their opinion • Dissenting Opinion – justices who disagree with the opinion write their side

  6. Implementation • The court is only as powerful as the president that will enforce its decisions. • “John Marshall has rendered his decision; now let him enforce it!” – Andrew Jackson • Refused to enforce Cherokee land rights; resulted in the “Trail of Tears” • “All deliberate speed” – Chief Earl Warren • 10 years after Brown only 1% of Southern schools were desegregated • Eisenhower & JFK sent army south to desegregate • Court must rely on branches, states, and officials to enforce its ruling

  7. Public Influence on Justices • Justices are NOT elected, appointed by Prez • However, not entirely immune to public opinion • Appointed by Prez, agree with his ideologies, Prez was elected, chosen because of bias • Justices are aware of public opinion, and are aware that decisions that flagrantly go against public opinion will not be implemented

  8. Conservatism vs. Liberalism • Justices are supposed to be “above politics” • However, they do have personal ideologies • EX. – CJ Earl Warren (1953-69) and CJ Warren Burger (1969-1986) were very liberal • CJ William Rehnquist (1986-2005) and CJ John Roberts (2005-?) swing conservative

  9. Appointment • President appoints judges for ALL federal court vacancies • Senate must confirm all nominations by majority vote (Advice and consent) • Senatorial courtesy – tradition started by G.Washington to seek approval from local senators over locally appointed judges

  10. Constraints on the Power of Federal Courts Adversarial system – decision must be made between 2 choices, and court can’t bring up an issue; court maintains impartiality; jury weighs the evidence; defendant doesn’t have to testify against oneself) • vs. Inquisitorial system, in which the court is actively involved in pursuing facts/investigating the case – European (Roman/Napoleonic code) model – defendant can present their side of the story w/out being cross-examined; think Amanda Knox case in Italy Justiciable dispute – must judge actual situations, not hypothetical situations (aka Live Controversy rule) Political question – absence of existing law makes it difficult for the court to rule on a case; won’t hear a case until a law has been passed regarding the issue Ex. – anti-gay marriage laws in the past 10 years now may lead to the court hearing those cases

  11. Checks on the SC • President appoints all judges • Senate must confirm appointed judges • Congress may alter the structure of the court system (add or subtract # of courts and justices) • Congress has the power to impeach judges • Congress may amend the Constitution if the Courts find a law unconstitutional • Ex. Income tax law originally found unconstitutionally so Congress added 16th amendment in 1913

  12. Judicial and Political Philosophy Judicial Activism Judges should interpret law loosely, using their power to promote their preferred political and social goals. Judges are said to be activists when they are likely to interject their own values in court decision Equality Liberal Leans to the left on public policy and would vote Democrat Conservative Leans to the right on public policy and would vote Republican Freedom Order Freedom Judicial Restraint Legislators, not judges, should make the laws. Judges are said to exercise judicial restraint when they rule closely to statutes and previous cases when reaching their decisions. They follow the “original intent” of the framers.