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Chapter 14- The Courts (1). Examine roles of the Constitution & Congress in creating the Federal Courts. (2). Discuss the structure of the Federal Court System at its various levels, including: District Courts, Courts of Appeal , and contrast original vs. appellate jurisdiction .

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chapter 14 the courts
Chapter 14- The Courts
  • (1). Examine roles of the Constitution & Congress in creating the Federal Courts.
  • (2). Discuss the structure of theFederal Court System at its various levels, including: District Courts, Courts of Appeal, and contrastoriginalvs.appellate jurisdiction.
  • (3). Examine the origins of Judicial Review and the role of Marbury v. Madison.
  • (4). Contrast judicial activismwith judicial restraint, and define stare decisis.
  • (5). Discuss the various limitations placed on the Federal Courts.
  • (6). Examine the characteristics of the Supreme Court and discuss its make up.
  • (7). Discuss the politics of selection, and explain how judges are nominated & confirmed.
  • (8). Discuss the judicial & ideological impact of Presidential appointments on the Court.
  • (9). Explain the decision process used by the Supreme Court to determine cases, and define & explain: Rule of four, amicus curiae, andstare decisis.
  • (10). Examine the different types of Supreme Court opinions, and contrast majority, concurring, and dissenting opinion, and explain how & why they are different.
  • (11). Analyze member voting patterns and discuss who usually wins before the Court.
  • (12). Examine the role of the lower Federal Courts, and discuss the key role played by the Senate during the nomination and confirmation process.
  • (13). Discuss the State Court system, its diverse organizations, and its judicial selection
the federal courts
The Federal Courts
  • Judiciary: The Third Branch of Government
    • Joint creation of the Constitution & Congress
    • Courts established & abolished as required w/times (by who?)
the constitution and the federal courts
The Constitution and the Federal Courts
  • Founders: independent court system crucial to success
  • Article III:
    • “judicial power … vested in one supreme Court”
    • also lists Court’s jurisdiction (Original vs. Appellate)
  • Article II: presidential appointment power => judges
    • With Senate’s “advice & consent” (vote to confirm?)
    • Congressional impeachmentand removal power
  • Organization & structure (any blueprint details?)
    • Details left to who? –
    • Congress (why?)*
    • Article IIIfairly broad & directs Congress to fill in the details
congress and the federal courts
Congress and the Federal Courts
  • Judiciary Act of 1789
    • Established Chief Justice & 5 associated justices
    • Basic levels of Federal Court Systemto consist of:
      • Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, & District Courts
    • Modified throughout US History=> (# of justices)
  • Court of Appeals Act of 1891
    • Supreme Court, Appeals Courts,*& District Courts*
      • *number of Courts increased by Congress w/population +
congress and federal courts 2
Congress and Federal Courts (2)
  • Type of Federal Courtdepends on its source:
    • Those created or stemming from Article III =>
      • Referred to as: constitutional courts (or Article III Courts)
      • These Federal Court Judges appointed & confirmed for life
  • Federal Courts created by Congress (Article I) =>
    • legislative courts(Article I Courtsor Tribunals)*
    • Judges for these courts serve fixed terms (14-15 years)
two types of federal court groups
Two Types of Federal Court Groups





  • The three-tiered system of Federal District courts, Courts of Appeal (originally circuit courts), and theSupreme Court.
  • Article IIIof the Constitution provides for the creation of these courts.
  • Judges serve for life
  • Various Administrative CourtsandTribunalsthat Congress establishes
  • Created by Congress asneed arises by power established inArticle Iof the Constitution.
  • Judges serve fixed terms
federal court system article iii three tier configuration
Federal Court System (Article III)Three Tier Configuration

Supreme Court

(Both kinds*)

Courts of Appeals

Appellant Jurisdiction

Federal District Courts

Original Jurisdiction

federal court system article i courts aka legislative courts
Federal Court System (Article I Courts)AKA: Legislative Courts


Appeals & others


us federal court system
US Federal Court System

Article III

Which Courts are Article

III & which are Article I?

State Supreme Courts

Article I

Article III

Article III

Article I

Article III

VA Appeals

federal courts as policy makers
Federal Courts as Policy Makers
  • Judicial Reviewversus Judicial Activism
    • Courts role in Policy Making
    • Constitution’s broad outline => open to interpretation
  • Evolution & status of Supreme Court’s power
    • Role of precedence:
    • Article VIand establishment of National Supremacy
    • Based on Court’s decision inMcCulloch v. Maryland
  • Marbury v. Madison& establishment of key precedence
    • Key role of Chief Justice John Marshall
    • Marshall’s decision established what key Court power?
  • Judicial Review* (significance?)
    • New power of the Court established – what power?
    • Court’s power to declarelaws unconstitutional (Fig 14-3)



  • Judicial review is the doctrine allowing the Supreme Court to review and overturn lawsmade by Congress and decisions made by the president.

What happens when Judicial Review is taken to extreme?



  • Judicial Activism is the vigorous use of judicial review to overturn laws and make public policy from the federal bench.
limitations on the courts
Limitations on the Courts
  • Limitations constraining Judicial Actions:
    • Reactive nature of the Courts
    • Inability to enforce Court rulings (depends on who?)
    • Ability Of Congress to pass newlaws (or modified)
      • Or President to modify executive regulations
    • Public Opinion (gradual impact)
    • Trend toward moderate decisions (Figure 14-4)*
      • Narrow interpretation of the law the norm=> narrow rulings
      • Court’s need to maintain Public’s perception of Legitimacy
      • Avoid sweeping changes to precedence (O’Connor vs. Scalia)
supreme court as a political institution
Supreme Court as a Political Institution

The Characteristics of the Court

Who serves on the Court?

Different paths to taken the Supreme Court (Box 14-1)

supreme court ideological direction
Supreme Court Ideological Direction

Civil & Criminal

Rights (Miranda)

Roe v. Wade

us supreme court
US Supreme Court
  • Role of the Chief Justice of the United States
    • Position vaguely described in Article I/Section 3’s reference
      • (“When president is tried the Chief Justice shall preside…”
    • Tradition: first among equals (but w/definite limits)
    • Presides over Court and Impeachment of President
    • Potential impact on Court’s direction
      • Warren Court vs. Burger Court vs. Rehnquist Court vs. Roberts
  • Rewards for service:
    • (Salary, Socio-economic status & prestige, job satisfaction)
  • Length of Service (die or retire?)
    • Presidential legacies & impact on the Court => (Fig 14-5)*
    • Lasting influence on future Court Rulings
politics of nomination and confirmation
Politics of Nomination and Confirmation
  • Inherently politically process – why?
    • Presidential legacy => impact of choice long after confirmation
  • Reasons for contested nominations:
    • Perception of presidential weakness
    • President’s party in minority in Senate
    • Lack of credentials or weak character of nominee
    • Legal views clash w/powerful members of Senate & IGs
      • Robert Bork’s paper trail of controversial opinions at Harvard
      • Rejected by influential special interests of own party members (Miers)
  • Recent trends: increased blocking of nominations
    • Judicial philosophy “Litmus test” on key moral issues
    • GOP threat to change the Senate rules on confirmation debate
    • Reason: High stakes involved=> future make up of the Court (5/4)
      • Future Court majority & its judicial philosophy=> How the Court rules
presidential legacies on the supreme court
Presidential Legacies on the Supreme Court
  • President’s theoretical impact shown by slide 18
  • Voting consistency with President not guaranteed
  • Sometimes unexpected positions taken
    • O’Connor (Reagan) on sex discrimination cases
    • David Souter (Bush I appointment) votes routinely with Liberal side
  • Justices’ legal views may change over time
    • Ike appointed Warren (Conservative CA Gov.) => but led very liberal court
  • Judicial & Ideological leanings of the Rehnquist Court:


Rehnquist Scalia

Stevens Souter

Ginsburg & Breyer

Kennedy &



Replacement?* =>

Result: Narrow Rulings

Often 5 to 4 split

nominee to replace sandra day o connor
Nominee To Replace Sandra Day O’Connor
  • President Bush picks Alito for Supreme Court, officials say WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush, stung by the rejection of his first choice, will nominate Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, selecting a conservative federal judge to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate.
next assignment
Next Assignment
  • Chapter 14 Learning Objectives 9-14
  • Quiz on Key Terms Chapters 11-14
    • Bring SCANTRON 25/25 & #2 pencil
  • Luncheon Learn:* Class delayed 15 minutes

*(The Old Days?)

decision making at the supreme court
Decision Making at the Supreme Court
  • Hearing a Case:
    • Writ of certiorari* (cases actually granted appeal)
    • Role of law clerks (screen appealed cases for discuss list)
    • The Rule of Four*
    • Amicus curiae* briefs
  • Number of cases appealed to the Supreme Court:

Compare with number actually heard by Supreme Court & lower courts

decision to hear a case key terms
Decision to Hear a Case- Key Terms

Writ of Certiorari

Rule of Four

A Supreme Court order for a lower court to send it the records of a case–the first step in reviewing a lower court case

The Supreme Court rule that at least four justices must decide that a case merits a review before it goes on the Court's schedule

factors affecting case key term
Factors Affecting Case- Key Term

amicus curiae

Literally, friend of the court. A brief filed with the court by a person or group who is not directly involved in the legal action but who has views on the matter.

factors affecting court decisions
Factors Affecting Court Decisions
  • Individual Decision Making:
    • The role of life experience (Justice O’Connor)
    • The role of Precedence => stare decisis*

*Doctrine that previous

Court Decision should

be allowed to stand –


supreme court opinions three different types
Supreme Court OpinionsThreeDifferent Types?
  • Three different types of Court Decisions:
    • majority opinions
    • concurring opinions
    • dissenting opinions
  • Examine more closely*
supreme court opinions
Supreme Court Opinions

Majority Opinion

Concurring Opinion

Dissenting Opinion

The document announcing and usually explaining the Supreme Court's decision in a case.

A statement from one or more Supreme Court justices agreeing with a decision in a case, but giving an alternative explanation for it.

A statement from one or more Supreme Court justices explaining why they disagree with a decision in a case.

  • Voting Patterns:
    • Predictable positions of Supreme Court justices
    • “5-4” Decisions & the role of Kennedy & O’Connor
who wins before the supreme court
Who Wins Before the Supreme Court?
  • Solicitor General’s track record (67%)
    • Experience & frequency before the Court
    • Only strong cases only need apply
  • Court’s political independence (Nixon tapes)
    • Unanimous agreement to turnover tapes
  • Do rich do better than the poor before the Court?
    • Deciding on the merits (Lower levels vs. top level)
the lower federal courts district courts
The Lower Federal CourtsDistrict Courts
  • Created by Congress (based on Article III)
    • Political appointment process (strong Congressional influence)
  • District Courts (DC):
    • Purpose & focus: establish the facts of the case
    • In most cases => decide fate (end of trial or appeals)
    • Most DC cases are civil cases (80+%) vs. criminal (mostly state)
      • Statutory actions & Petitions from prisoners
      • Civil rights complaints & Tax suits
      • Bankruptcies & Contract enforcement & Liability claims
  • Main DC job: Apply the law as defined by Congress
    • Little flexibility (w/some limited opportunities)
courts of appeal
Courts of Appeal
  • Decide cases appealed fromDistrict courts
    • Appellate Jurisdiction (aka:Appellate Courts)
  • Focus: legal issues tried in district or state:
    • Determine if trial was fair
    • Judge applied law correctly
    • (Do not determine facts of case => who does?)
      • District Courts
  • Result: Appellate Courts have more flexibility to interpret & extend law
nomination and confirmation nominees to district appeals courts
Nomination and ConfirmationNominees to District & Appeals Courts
  • Also nominated by the President & confirmed by Senate
  • Senate has greater say at District & Appeal Court levels
    • Role of Senatorial Courtesy
  • Partisan politics alive & well in selection process
    • (Table 14-1)* => breakdown of partisan politics
    • Note Reagan’s legacy => conservative outcome
state courts
State Courts
  • Get the majority of all cases heard (100M vs. 265K):
    • States operate differently from Federal Courts
    • Primary focus: criminal trials
  • States vary in organization from state to state
    • Also vary in selection of judges & term limits
  • State CourtOrganization:
    • Broad range of variety of forms, structures, & names
    • All have Supreme Courts or courts of last resort
    • All vary in the extent they protect citizens’ rights
      • Many go beyond US Constitution
    • Some act as legal “path finders” for nation
judicial selection to state courts
Judicial Selection to State Courts
  • Method of selection varies from state to state
  • Model used follows own state (vice Federal) selection model:
    • 1. State legislature chooses
    • 2. Voters elect => both in partisan & non-partisan elections
    • 3. Some in variations & combinations of above
  • Missouri Plan
    • Appointment (by Governor) & election combination
    • Appointed for 12 year term => then must stand for reelection
  • Merit System
    • Variation of Missouri Plan
    • Goal: reduce partisan politics
  • Selection method used & its impact on Justice: unclear
length of service for state judges
Length of Service for State Judges
  • Most state judges serve for fixed terms
  • In contrast to Federal Judges: removal easier:
    • 1. Reelection defeat
    • 2. Recall (by the voters)
    • 3. Disciplinary commission action for wrong doing
  • Elected judges must raise campaign funding
    • Results in a Trade off:
      • Judicial independence v. political Responsiveness*
  • *Special interest or at least perception of obligation
    • (Especially to Trial Lawyers who contribute and present cases before them)
state laws their variance
State Laws & their variance
  • Laws & punishment vary state to state:
    • Death penalty (38 versus 12 states)
    • Abortion rights
    • Social or Morality oriented laws (Nevada vs. NC)
    • Gun control laws (Figure 14-7)*
  • National uniformity & the Bill of Rights
    • Supreme Court’s interpretation of US Constitution
    • Apply “equal protection” of liberties to all
    • In other cases leave judicial discretion to the States
chapter 14 the courts key terms
Chapter 14: The Courts-KEY TERMS
  • Amicus curiae: Literally, friend of the court. A person or group that files a legal brief in a case they are not directly involved in.
  • Concurring opinion: A statement from one or more Supreme Court justices agreeing w/decision in a case, but giving an alternative explanation for it.
  • Constitutional courts: The three-tiered system of federal district courts, courts of appeal (originally circuit courts), and the Supreme Court. Article III of the Constitution provides for the creation of these courts.
  • Dissenting opinion: A statement from one or more Supreme Court justices explaining why they disagree with a decision in a case.
  • Judicial activism: The vigorous use of judicial review to overturn laws and make public policy from the federal bench.
  • Judicial review: The doctrine allowing the Supreme Court to review and overturn decisions made by Congress and the president.
  • Legislative courts: Various administrative courts and tribunals that Congress establishes, as Article I of the Constitution provides.
chapter 14 the courts key terms 2
Chapter 14: The Courts-KEY TERMS (2)
  • Majority opinion: The document announcing and usually explaining the Supreme Court’s decision in a case.
  • Marbury v. Madison: The Supreme Court decision in 1803 that established the principle of judicial review.
  • Missouri Plan/Merit System: The system some states use to select judges, appointing them but requiring them to stand for periodic reelection.
  • Rule of Four: The Supreme Court rule that at least four justices must decide that a case merits a review before it goes on the Court’s schedule.
  • Senatorial courtesy: The practice a president follows in choosing a nominee for a district or appeals court judgeship. The president selects a nominee from a list supplied by the senator of the president’s party from the state or region where the vacancy occurs.
  • Stare decisis: The doctrine that previous Supreme Court decisions should be allowed to stand.
  • Writ of certiorari: A Supreme Court order for a lower court to send it the records of a case—the first step in reviewing a lower court case.
test ii preparation
Test II Preparation
  • Review all Key Termspresented in Chapters 11-14
    • Both their definitions and how there are applied
    • Understand their application in context to LOs
    • Review Class Notes for Chapters 11-14
      • Questions asked and discussed in class are good examples
  • Monday: bring SCANTRON 50/50 W/#2 pencil
    • Questions?
    • Quiz on part 3 on Key Terms- NOW!