The Federal Judiciary Constitution of the United States Article III Section 1. 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. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
The Judicial Branch • Importance of an independent judiciary • Law must be neutral and nonpartisan • Judges and Justices must be free of political control • appointed, not elected – beyond influence of party politics • serve for life – beyond the influence of the president that appointed them [with Senate approval, of course] • [Note that some State judges are elected for terms of office, such as North Carolina – the idea is that those who interpret law should be answerable to the people] • Federal courts handle cases of federal law • All federal is law based upon the Constitution [Article VI] • U.S. justice system based upon long historical precedent • Code of Hammurabi; 10 Commandments [Law of Moses] • Roman law – codified; simplified by Justinian Code, updated by Napoleonic Code • English Common Law – based on court decisions rather than written document or code • Why does justice have a sword? • What does the scale mean? • Why is justice blindfolded?
Types of Law • Look these up, know what they are, what body makes them, and what they deal with. Be ableto give and/or recognize examples of each [hint, hint...] • Common Law • Criminal Law • Civil Law • Constitutional Law • Statutory Law • Administrative Law • International Law
Top 3 levels are constitutional courts • Begins at the trial level [usually] • Original jurisdiction • Decisions may be appealed to next level[s] • Appellate jurisdiction • [State systems are similar] • Article I courts, etc. try cases and hear appeals within their own organizations • U.S. Supreme Court is final court of appeal for all courts & agencies [incl. state supreme courts] [Highest State courts]
The U.S. Supreme Court • Primary responsibilities • Interpret law • The Constitution says what the Court says it says • E.g. Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist. (1969) “speech” broadened to include “expression” • Judicial review • All federal courts have the power to find acts and laws to be unconstitutional • Not actually stated in the Constitution • Marbury v. Madison (1803) • Established precedent of judicial review • Ruled that part of Judiciary Act of 1789 violated separation of power
Supreme Court jurisdiction • Appellate [in most cases] – ruling on lower court decisions • Original [in rare cases] – diplomatic cases or if a state is a party in the case • How many justices? • 1 Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices = 9 • The Court at work • Court in recess • Court and staff are receiving documentation and researching for pending cases • or deciding whether or not to hear a case • rule of 4 • writ of certiorari – order to lower court to send records
I will take this case all the way to the Supreme Court … • Writ of Certiorari (i.e."Rule of Four”) • Annual docket = 8,000 cases • Fewer than 100 heard or reviewed • $300 filingfee • In forma pauperis= right to be heard at no expense. • Often, interestgroups will foot the bill. • Quorum = 6
Court in session • Lawyers from both sides have 30 minutes to give oral arguments before the justices • Justices constantly interrupt with questions • Already have lawyers’ briefs – their main arguments in outline form [hence – briefcase] [amicus briefs] • Handing down rulings[the Court’s decision] • Simple majority [5 out of 9] decides • Rulings are written as opinions [3 kinds] • Majorityopinion – decision of the majority and reasons for the decision • Dissenting opinion – reasons for disagreeing with the majority ruling [often historically important] • Concurringopinion – agrees with the majority but for different or additional reasons • Opinions set precedents – adjusts how laws are applied and/or provide arguments that can be used in later cases that deal with similar issues
Impact of Rulings • When making their decisions, SC justices consider the following: • StareDecisisor precedent... • “let the decision stand”. • Why important? • Stability: Meaning of the law not always changing • Legitimacy: based upon prior, legal wisdom and judgment • Equality: more than one group makes the decision; application over many groups • Personal Ideology (Activism vs. Restraint?) • Public Opinion • See following slides for 2 & 3 • Landmark Decisions: • have profound affect on future meaning of the law • Often a significant reinterpretation or application of previous rulings
Landmark decisions • Set precedents for later rulings and key interpretations/reinterpretations of the Constitution • Can seriously affect social life of Americans • Discrimination [Brown v. Board of Education 1954] [cf. Plessy] • Power of the federal government [Marbury v. Madison 1803; McCulloch v. MD. 1824] • Free speech/press [Tinker v. Des Moines 1969; Texas v. Johnson 1989; New York Times v. United States 1971] • Abortion and privacy [Roe v. Wade 1973; Mapp v. Ohio 1961] • Rights of the defendant [Gideon v. Wainwright 1963; Miranda v. Arizona 1965] • Much, much more [religious freedom, gun ownership, property rights, etc.]
The 14th and selective incorporation • 14th Amendment applies Bill of Rights to State law • One at a time – selectively – specific rights and protections are brought incorporated into state law • E.g. Gideon and right to counsel
The Inferior Constitutional Courts: U.S. District Court & U.S. Court of Appeals
Federal Circuit Court Districts, North Carolina There are 94 Circuit Court Districts in the U.S. 3 of them are in NC The districts are apportioned according to population but each state has at least 1
U.S. District courts trial courts Testimony and evidence Jury decision Verdict of guilty/innocent in criminal cases Penalties and awards in civil cases Federal crimes Lawsuits to which the U.S. is a party Original jurisdiction within the court’s district Concurrent jurisdiction in cases that violate both federal and state laws U.S. Courts of Appeal Appellate courts Evidence is lower court records Judges decide or rule on lower court decisions Uphold [stare Decisis] Reverse/overturn Remand Not decision of guilt or innocence Criminal or civil cases Appellate jurisdiction within the court’s district 13th Appeals Court is the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Nationwide jurisdiction The Lower Federal Courts