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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. Federal Court System. Step 1 – DISTRICT COURTS

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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

  3. Federal Court System • Step 1 – DISTRICT COURTS • 94 US Dist. – Hear 342,000 cases/yr • Trial by jury (only federal court with jury) • Step 2 – 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 • (IL, IN, and WI in the 7th circuit)

  4. Federal Court System • Step 3 – US Supreme Court • 2003 – Argued 84 cases, decided 71 • Hear appeals – writ of certiorari • Rule of 4 – 4 justices needed to agree to hear a case Chief Justice John Roberts

  5. 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 • Concurring Opinion – justices who agree for other reasons can give their opinion • Dissenting Opinion – justices who disagree with the opinion write their side

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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-?) swing conservative

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

  10. 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

  11. Checks on the SC • President appoints all judges • 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 • Ex. Income tax originally found unconstitutionally so Congress added 16th amendment

  12. 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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