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The Federal Court System

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  1. The Federal Court System

  2. Constitution provided for a Supreme Court as a part of the checks and balance system • Supreme Court had a very minor role until Chief Justice John Marshall helped increase the power of the Court • Judicial Review • Supremacy of the federal gov. over state governments • Gained control of interstate commerce History

  3. “Nothing in the Court’s history is more striking than the fact that, while its significant and necessary place in the Federal form of Government has always been recognized by thoughtful and patriotic men, nevertheless, no branch of government and no institution under the Constitution has sustained more continuous attack or reached its present position after more vigorous opposition.” Charles Warren, 1924

  4. “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.” Chief Justice Charles Even Hughes, 1938

  5. The United States judiciary consists of parallel systems of federal and state courts. • Each of the 50 states has its own system of courts (derives power from state laws and constitutions) • child custody, divorce, criminal, juvenile • Federal court system consists of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts established by Congress (derives power from the Constitution and federal laws) • bankruptcy , constitution violations Jurisdiction of the Courts

  6. Jurisdiction: the authority to hear certain cases • State courts have jurisdiction over cases involving state laws • Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases involving U.S. laws, foreign treaties, and the interpretation of the Constitution Jurisdiction Continued

  7. Original Jurisdiction: court in which the case is originally tried Appellate Jurisdiction: if a person loses a case in a trial court and wishes to appeal a decision, they may take the case to an appeals court Jurisdiction Continued

  8. Congress has created 94 district courts • Hear hundreds of thousands of cases a year • Congress created 13 appeals courts • Ease the workload of the Supreme Court • Hear nearly 55,000 cases a year Milwaukee Green Bay Lower Federal Courts

  9. The United States Supreme Court

  10. The Supreme Court is the most visible and most powerful of all the federal courts. The number of Justices is determined by Congress rather than the Constitution, and since 1869, the Court has been composed of one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. Justices are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Supreme Court

  11. Justices led by a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His/her main duty is administrational and ceremonial. Nomination and confirmation can sometimes become very “political” Conservative, Moderate, Liberal Republican to Republican appointees Democrat to Democrat appointees Almost always… Justices of the Supreme Court

  12. Likelihood of Senate approval Recommendation of the American Bar Association The support or opposition of major interest groups The opinions of current justices Supreme Court Selection

  13. Vast majority of cases the Supreme Court hears are appeals cases Question How many cases are appealed to the Supreme Court each year and how many cases does the Court hear? The Supreme Court

  14. The Supreme Court receives approximately 10,000 petitions each year.  The Court grants and hears oral arguments in about 75-80 cases. 1% of all cases Supreme Court carefully decides what cases they will hear Answer

  15. Sit for two weeks out of each month to hear cases: Major Cases *Lawyers submit important information *Lawyers for each side present a 30 minute summary of their argument *justices considers the arguments and vote *work on their opinions (majority, dissenting, concurring, unanimous) Most cases deal with constitutionality of a law Duties of the Supreme Court Justices

  16. “My Dog Ate My Opinion”

  17. Cases the Court chooses not to hear are dismissed and the lower court ruling stands Four out of nine judges must agree to hear a case

  18. Appointed under George W. Bush Chief Justice from 2005-present (7yrs) Roman Catholic 57 years old Harvard Law Chief Justice: John Roberts

  19. Antonin Scalia Anthony M. Kennedy • Age: 76 • Nominated by Ronald Reagan • Associate Judge since 1986 (26 yrs) • Roman Catholic • Age: 76 • Nominated by Ronald Reagan • Associate Judge since 1988 (24 yrs.) • Roman Catholic

  20. Clarence Thomas Ruth Bader Ginsburg • Age: 64 • Nominated by George Bush • Associate Judge since 1991 (21 years) • Roman Catholic • Age: 79 • Nominated by Bill Clinton • Associate Judge since 1993 (19 years) • Jewish

  21. Stephen G. Breyer Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. • Age: 74 • Nominated by Bill Clinton • Associate Judge since 1994 (18 yrs.) • Jewish • Age: 62 • Nominated by George W. Bush • Associate Judge since 2006 (6yrs) • Roman Catholic

  22. Sonia Sotomayor Elena Kagan • Age: 58 • Nominated by Barack Obama • Associate Judge since 2009 (3 yrs.) • Roman Catholic • Age: 52 • Nominated by Barack Obama • Associate Judge since 2010 (2yrs.) • Jewish

  23. Judicial Review: court has the power to validate or cancel the laws and actions of government institutions • Ended segregation Brown vs. Board of Ed. • Interpretation of Laws: determines how laws will be carried out • Americans with Disabilities Act / PGA Tour • Overturning earlier decisions: adapts the law to changing circumstances and social values • Wire taps originally did not require a warrant / now they do Shaping Public Policy

  24. Judges must base their opinions on law, not on personal opinions The Supreme Court must interpret laws and relate their interpretations to the Constitution itself, and legal precedents