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US Politics The Judiciary.

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Presentation on theme: "US Politics The Judiciary."— Presentation transcript:

1 US Politics The Judiciary

2 Overview Sources of American Law The Federal Court System
Judicial Process and the Supreme Court Checks and Balances

3 Sources of American Law
Common-Law tradition Judge based stare decisis (precedent) judges bound to respect rulings of prior judges in similar cases

4 Sources of American Law
Constitution Federal and State Statutes and Administrative Regulations Case Law previous decisions and interpretations of law

5 Federal Court System Federal System has a three tiered structure:
District Courts (94) trial courts: they determine the facts of the case general jurisdiction limited jurisdiction (e.g., Bankruptcy Courts, Claims Court, Veterans Appeals, Tax)

6 Federal Court System Appeals Courts (Circuit Courts)
13 federal appeals courts appellate court doesn’t determine the “facts” of the case determines whether the rules and procedures were followed correctly

7 Federal Court System + one federal court = 13 Courts of Appeals

8 Number of Justices/Court
11 16 13 28 6 14 12 15 12 17 12 Federal Court Circuit has 12

9 Federal Court System Selection of Justices is based on presidential nomination, followed by “advice and consent” of Senate The lower level federal courts operate on basis of “senatorial courtesy” whereby the the ranking senator in the state in which the justice will be seated submits acceptable nominee list to president As go higher up the system, more involvement from the president and greater scrutiny by the Senate

10 Federal Court System US Supreme Court highest court in the land
has some original jurisdiction primarily appelate court

11 Federal Court System Supreme Court 9 Justices
Appointed by President with advice and consent of the Senate Lifetime appointment pending good behavior

12 Clarence Thomas (GHW. Bush; 1981 David Souter (GHW Bush; 1990)
John Paul Stevens (Ford; 1975) Antonin Scalia (Reagan, 1986) John Roberts (GW Bush; 2005) Anthony Kennedy (Reagan; 1988) Clarence Thomas (GHW. Bush; 1981 David Souter (GHW Bush; 1990) Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Clinton; 1993) Stephen Breyer (Clinton; 1994) Samual Alito (GW Bush; 2006)

13 Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit
Supreme Court State Supreme Court Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit State Appellate Courts State Trial Courts District Courts and other trial courts

14 Judicial Process: Terminology
Parties to the lawsuit: plaintiff: party initiating the suit defendant: party that is target of the suit Standing having a sufficient “stake” in the matter to warrant bringing the suit Litigate to engage in a legal proceeding; that is bring to trial

15 Judicial Process Plaintiff files application to Supreme Court to hear case Until 1925, defendants had an automatic right to a Supreme Court hearing. The Judiciary Act of 1925 eliminated that provision. Supreme Court issues writ of certiorari Based on “rule of 4” 4 of the 9 justices must agree to hear the case Vast majority of cases are turned down e.g., in 2007/08 term, the court heard 75 cases, and then ruled on 72 cases, out of 8,241filings for appeal

16 Judicial Process Factors shaping issuance of the writ:
unsettled area of law conflicting lower court rulings change in court membership advocacy by executive branch compelling issue for Chief Justice

17 Judicial Process Oral Argument Litigants file briefs with court
amicus curiae briefs also filed Litigants argue case before the Court

18 Judicial Process Justices then deliberate Issue Decision and Opinion
Decisions will: Affirm lower court ruling Reverse lower court ruling Remand to lower court

19 Judicial Process Decisions and Opinions
The Decision is expressed in an opinion of the court Majority Opinion: the legal reasoning used by a majority of members to reach the decision Concurrent: members who agree with the decision but disagree with the argument used to get there Dissenting: the members of the court who disagree with the decision and the legal reasoning

20 Power of Supreme Court Through judicial review (Marbury v. Madison), Court has power to interpret the meaning of the Constitution Acts as important check on President, Congress, bureaucracy, and the states

21 Power of Supreme Court Checks on Supreme Court
Appellate, so can’t initiate process No enforcement mechanism Amendment Public Opinion

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