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Institutions

Institutions

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Institutions

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  1. Institutions Unit IVD National Judiciary

  2. American Legal System • Criminal Law Cases • An individual violating a specific law based on regulating morality • Misdemeanor • Less serious crime; less than 1 year incarceration; fines • Felony • More serious crime; more than 1 year incarceration • Varying degrees of crimes based on intent • Civil Law Cases • Involving a perceived violation of civil rights or legal relationships • i.e. contracts • Lawsuits • Class action involves a one or a few representing many affected • Basic Structure of a Court • Litigants • Plaintiff – brings up charges, sues • Burden of proof • Defendant/respondent – answering charges • Lawyers • Prosecution – government lawyers accusing of criminal charges • Public defenders – government-paid lawyers for criminally-charged individuals • Jury • Trial by jury; one may request a bench trial or trial by jury • Judge • Presides over the case; rules on objections; final ruling; passes sentence • Public • Audience members, interest groups, relations to litigants

  3. Constitutional Structure • Article III establishes the judicial branch • United States Supreme Court • Congress establishes lower federal courts • Judiciary Act of 1789 • Also set number of SC justices, position of Chief justice • Constitutional Courts • District Courts (original jurisdiction) – 1789 • Each state has at least one district court • 94 district courts • Courts of Appeals (appellate jurisdiction) – 1891 • 13 Courts of Appeals separated by geographic circuits • Legislative Courts • Agency reviews (taxes, trade, bankruptcy) • Not subject to Article III parameters

  4. Court of Appeals

  5. Jurisdiction • Original Jurisdiction • Court is the first to hear the case • Appellate Jurisdiction • Reviewed by a higher/alternate court • Supreme Court’s Jurisdiction • Original jurisdiction involving cases with ambassadors, foreign ministers, consuls, state is a party • Appellate jurisdiction in all other cases • From federal district or appeals courts, or state supreme courts involving federal law or Constitution • Concurrent Jurisdiction • Cases may be tried in state or federal courts

  6. Dual Court System • Federal Court System • Federal-Question cases • Arising under the Constitution, the law of the U.S., and treaties • Diversity cases • Involving different states or citizens of different states • Dual Sovereignty • Either state or federal court can review case if both state and federal laws broken • State Court Systems • Circuit court system with original and appellate jurisdiction courts • State supreme court decisions final law in respective state • May be appealed to U.S. Court of Appeals and Supreme Court if a constitutional question

  7. Federal Judges • Serve “during good behavior” – Article III • Life terms • Appointment • Not elected hence not directly subject to political pressures • President appoints with advice and consent from the Senate • Senatorial courtesy

  8. Nominating a Supreme Court Justice • Presidential appointments politicized • Party Affiliation • Political Ideology • Litmus Test • Asking questions about stance on major issues, i.e. abortion • Race, Gender, Religion, Region • Judicial and Legal Experience and Record • Political Acceptability • Legal organizations • American Bar Association • Interest groups • U.S. Senate • Simple majority required • Other justices

  9. Checking and Balancing Judges • Adversarial System • Issue between two parties settled by an impartial judge or jury • Justiciable Dispute • Based on an actual situation and not a hypothetical test • Political Questions • Disputes between Congress and the President or a matter left to a branch of government • Appointments • President appoints with Senate approval • Impeachment • House of Representatives may impeach a federal judge and the Senate tries • Structure of the Courts • Congress may alter the number of district or appellate courts, number of SC justices • Amendments • Overrule a federal court decision by amending the Constitution or bounding the courts to the supreme law of the land

  10. The U.S. Supreme Court • Currently made of 9 justices, including a Chief Justice and 8 associate justices • Congress determines the number of justices • $217,400 salary for Chief Justice • $208,100 salary for Associate Justices

  11. The Supreme CourtAccepting Cases • Original Jurisdiction • Cases involving ambassadors, foreign ministers, consuls, or state a party • Very few cases are reviewed by the SC • Only a 100 out of 10,000 cases a year • Lower court decision stands if SC refuses to hear case • Justices may recuse themselves if conflict of interest • Rule of Four • Four of the nine justices must agree to hear/review a case • Writ of Certiorari • SC directs lower court to provide all records regarding a case when petitioned for review

  12. The Supreme CourtReviewing and Hearing a Case • Case Briefs • Written arguments provided to SC prior to oral arguments • Cites legal arguments, legal precedents, previous court decisions • Amicus curiae brief (friend of the court) • Used by interest groups with a vested interest in case providing an additional legal perspective • Oral Arguments • 30 minutes for each party counsel • Justices may ask questions during oral arguments • Solicitor General • Argues on behalf of the United States

  13. The Supreme CourtDeciding a Case • Conferences • Justices discuss the case on Wednesday afternoons and Fridays • Writing Opinions • Most opinions written by justice’s law clerks • Majority opinion • The official opinion of the court, the supreme ruling • Outlined by legal reasons • Dissenting opinion • Justices who disagree with the majority opinion write a dissent outlined by legal reasons • Concurring opinion • If a justice concurs with the majority but disagrees with the legal reasons

  14. Supreme Court History • Marshall Court (early 19th century) • Marbury v. Madison (1803) – judicial review; constitutionality of laws and policies • Pro-Federalist decisions – expansion of national government power and influence • Taney Court (mid 19th century) • Scott v. Sanford (Dred Scott decision) (1857) • Pro-Democratic decisions – states’ rights and limited government • Late 19th Century-Early 20th Century • Wake of 14th Amendment – incorporation • Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) • Pro-business, pro-laissez-faire decisions during Gilded Age-Progressive Era • New Deal (1930s) • FDR’s court-packing to save New Deal policies from conservative rulings • Warren Court (1950s-1960s) • Active in civil rights and civil liberties decisions; “most liberal court ever” • Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona • Burger Court (late 1960s- early 1980s) • More conservative regarding rights of defendants • Roe v. Wade, Regents of UC v. Bakke • Rehnquist and Roberts Courts (late 1980s-2010s) • Continues the conservative ideology • McDonald v. Chicago, Citizens United v. FEC

  15. The Supreme CourtPolicymaking and Philosophy • Judicial Restraint - Originalism • Limit the initiative on social and political questions • Passive on policymaking • Strict interpretation of the Constitution • “The Constitution is not an empty bottle…it is like a statue, and the meaning doesn’t change.” – Antonin Scalia • Judicial Activism – Living Constitution • Active role in society and politics • Judicial intervention • Loose interpretation of the Constitution • “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.” – Charles Evans Hughes