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The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court. The Nomination Process. Formal Qualifications The Constitution has no formal qualifications Informal Qualifications Senatorial courtesy? Political ideology Party and personal loyalties Acceptability to the Senate Judicial experience Race and gender

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The Supreme Court

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  1. The Supreme Court

  2. The Nomination Process • Formal Qualifications • The Constitution has no formal qualifications • Informal Qualifications • Senatorial courtesy? • Political ideology • Party and personal loyalties • Acceptability to the Senate • Judicial experience • Race and gender • The "Litmus Test" • Judicial Philosophy • Judicial Restraint • judges play minimal policy making roles (a.k.a. strict constructionist); Original intent of the Founding Fathers or law; follow precedent and base their decision on previous case law. • Judicial Activism • judges believe they should act more boldly (a.k.a loose constructionists) • Judges should apply and interpret the law in light of ongoing changes—especially in terms of civil rights and social issues.

  3. Confirmation Hearings • President Names  • Senate  • Judiciary Committee  • Hearings  • Judiciary CmteReports  • Full Senate vote (majority vote)

  4. Organization of the Court • Basics • 1 chief justice 8 associate justices • number set by law and has varied from six to ten over the course of history, but has remained 9 since the 1870s • Session • Begins the first Monday in October through the end of June

  5. Current Supreme Court (2013) Alito Breyer Sotomayor Kagan Roberts Kennedy Ginsberg Thomas Scalia

  6. Organization of the Court • Jurisdiction • The SCOTUS has both Original Jurisdiction and Appellate Jurisdiction • Original Jurisdiction • Two cases may be heard in its Original Jurisdiction • Those to which a state is a party, or involving two or more states • Those that involve ambassadors or other foreign ministers • Appellate Jurisdiction • Almost all cases that get to the SCOTUS come to it under this • Over 8,000 cases were appealed to the SCOTUS in 2008—only heard a few hundred • Usually because the SCOUTS agrees with the lower court’s decision

  7. Organization of the Court • How does the court pick the cases it hears? • Case must have a significant Constitutional question to deal with • Person bringing suit must be personally injured by the law being challenged (must have “standing” • All other remedies have been exhausted • Requires agreement of four justices to hear the case (“rule of four”) • Of the few hundred cases heard, most of those are dealt with by “brief orders” • the court sends the case back to the lower court with a “brief” or letter instructing the lower court to reconsider. • Most of the remaining 90-100 cases come to the court via a writ of certiorari (or cert), a Latin phrase that means “made more certain” • a. The SCOTUS orders a lower court, or state court, to send the case to them for review • Either party (defendant or plaintiff) can also apply to the SCOTUS to have their case heard • If denied, the lower court’s ruling stands.

  8. Hearing and Deciding a Case • Set the Date • From the first Monday in October (when the session begins) to early summer the court hears its cases in two week cycles. • During those two week cycles the SCOTUS hears arguments from each side • Briefs • Before a case is heard in court, the justices receive printed briefs in which each side presents legal arguments and relevant precedents • Amicus Curie Briefs- “friend of the court” interest groups present their briefs in addition. • Oral Argument • Beginning on Monday, the SCOTUS begins hearing “oral arguments” • Each side has 30 minutes to present their argument • At any time a justice can interrupt a lawyer and ask questions. • If the US government is involved, the “Solicitor General” represents the US. • The Conference • By Wednesday afternoon and all day on Friday the justices meet to conference. • Led by the Chief Justice the justices argue the case amongst themselves. • No formal vote is taken but each justice is asked to give his or her views and conclusions

  9. Opinions • Definition—Statement of legal reasoning behind decision • Three Types • Majority opinion • the official opinion of the court (usually written by the most senior justice of the majority) very important b/c it sets precedence • Dissenting opinion • opinion of the justices who do not agree with the majority • Concurring opinion • justicezwho agree with the majority but for different reasons than the opinion written • In all decisions, the SCOTUS is very aware of “Stare Decisis” • Reliance on past decisions or precedents to formulate decisions in new cases

  10. Decision

  11. Implementing Court Decisions • Judicial implementation • Refers to the translation of court decisions into actual policy • Problem of Implementation • Decisions must be carried out by the other branches or state officials (Brown case- 10 years without implementation) • Andrew Jackson: “[Chief Justice] Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it.”

  12. F. REVIEW • Written legal opinion • One of the 12 judicial districts covered by the Court of Appeals • order by the Court to lower courts to send them records on a case for review • Power of the courts to declare a law unconstitutional • Standard by which future cases are decided • Decision of the Court • lower court asks the Court to certify the answer to a specific question in the matter B. Writ of ceterorari Circuit Opinion Judicial Review Certificate Brief Precedent A. D. G. C. E.

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