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Supreme Court

Supreme Court. Judiciary – The cornerstone of our democracy. Judicial Review. Marbury v. Madison (1803) Allows the courts to rule on the constitutionality of laws, giving the court the power to strike down or reinforce policy Two Views Strict-Constructionist Activist.

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Supreme Court

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  1. Supreme Court Judiciary – The cornerstone of our democracy

  2. Judicial Review • Marbury v. Madison (1803) • Allows the courts to rule on the constitutionality of laws, giving the court the power to strike down or reinforce policy • Two Views • Strict-Constructionist • Activist

  3. Government and the Economy • From the end of the Civil War to the early years of the New Deal the dominate issue the Supreme Court dealt with was deciding when the economy would be regulated

  4. Government and Liberty • 1936 to present the major issue facing the Supreme Court is personal liberty, social equality and the conflict between the two • What caused this change?

  5. Court Packing

  6. Federal Court SystemConstitutional Courts • DISTRICT COURTS • 94 US Dist. – Hear 342,000 cases/yr • Trial by jury (only federal court with jury) • APPEAL (CIRCUIT) COURTS • 12 Courts of Appeal – Hear 61,000 cases/yr • Panel of 3 judges, sometimes more • No cases start here, review district court decisions

  7. Federal Court SystemConstitutional Courts • US Supreme Court • 2003 – Argued 84 cases, decided 71 • Hear appeals • Rule of 4 – 4 justices needed to agree to hear a case Chief Justice John Roberts

  8. Federal Court SystemLegislative Court • Set up for specialized purpose • Members have a fixed term and can be removed • Court of Military Appeals

  9. Appointment • President appoints judges for ALL federal court vacancies • Senate must confirm all nominations by majority vote (Advice and consent) • President generally appoints judges whose political views reflect their own • Senatorial courtesy – tradition started by G.Washington to seek approval from local senators over locally appointed judges

  10. Litmus Test • A test of political ideology • There is concern that this test replaces actual qualifications

  11. Jurisdiction • In the United States, we have a dual court system- state and federal • Federal Court Cases- federal question cases, diversity cases(involves citizens of diff. states, or one state sues another state) • Some cases break state and federal laws and can be tried in either or both courts

  12. Getting to Court • The Supreme Court hears about 100 cases in a given year • The cost to make it to the S.C. is very high and it could take very long • In forma pauperis- file as a pauper ex. Gideon • The Solicitor General personally approves every case the government presents to the Supreme Court

  13. Class-Action Suits • A case brought to court by a person on behalf not only of him or herself, but of all other persons in similar circumstances • Brown v. the Board of Education • After Brown, the number of these types of cases increased significantly • As a result, in 1974 the S.C. decided to tighten the rules governing these cases

  14. Types of Opinions • When an opinion is written (a decision), it often takes months and many drafts • Majority Opinion – justices in the majority must draft an opinion setting out the reasons for their decision • Per Curiam- brief and unsigned opinion • Concurring Opinion – justices who agree for other reasons can give their opinion • Dissenting Opinion – justices who disagree with the opinion write their side

  15. Implementation • “John Marshall has rendered his decision; now let him enforce it!” – Andrew Jackson • “All deliberate speed” – Chief Earl Warren • 10 years after Brown only 1% of Southern schools were desegregated • Court must rely on branches, states, and officials to enforce its ruling

  16. Public Influence on Justices • Justices are NOT elected, appointed by Prez • However, not entirely immune to public opinion • Appointed by Prez, agree with his ideologies, Prez was elected, chosen because of bias • Justices are aware of public opinion, and are aware that decisions that flagrantly go against public opinion will not be implemented

  17. Conservatism vs. Liberalism • Justices are supposed to be “above politics” • However, they do have personal ideologies • EX. – CJ Earl Warren (1953-69) and CJ Warren Burger (1969-1986) were very liberal • CJ William Rehnquist (1989-2005) and CJ John Roberts (2005-?) conservative

  18. Constraints on the Power of Federal Courts • Adversarial system – decision must be made between 2 choices, and court can’t bring up an issue • Justiciable dispute – must judge actual situations, not hypothetical situations 3. Political question – absence of law to rule on a case and the court calls on the Congress to create law Ex. – gay marriage – equal protection

  19. Congress and the SC • Congress must confirm appointed judges • Congress may alter the structure of the court system (# of courts and justices) • Congress has the power to impeach judges • Congress may amend the Constitution if the Courts find a law unconstitutional • Congress can alter the jurisdiction of the courts • Congress can revise legislation declared unconstitutional

  20. Judicial and Political Philosophy Judicial Activism Judges should interpret law loosely, using their power to promote their preferred political and social goals. Judges are said to be activists when they are likely to interject their own values in court decision Equality Liberal Leans to the left on public policy and would vote Democrat Conservative Leans to the right on public policy and would vote Republican Freedom Order Freedom Judicial Restraint Legislators, not judges, should make the laws. Judges are said to exercise judicial restraint when they rule closely to statutes and previous cases when reaching their decisions. They follow the “original intent” of the framers.

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