2The Structural Context of Court Behavior Constitutional powersArticle III (the Judicial Article) provides very little detail about the organization and operations of the judicial branch.Marbury v. Madison (1803) and the development of judicial review
3The U.S. Court System: Organization and Jurisdiction Dual court systemThere is one court system for the national government and one in each of the states.Most laws, legal disputes, and court decisions are located in the states.The most important political and constitutional issues eventually reach the federal courts.
4Constitutional Provisions: Article III The Supreme Court is the only court specifically mentioned in Article III of the Constitution.Congress was given the task of establishing “such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”Article III specifies the jurisdiction of the federal courts.
5Federal District Courts — Trial Courts of Original Jurisdiction Most cases in the federal court system are first heard in one of the 94 district courts, and most of the business of the federal courts takes place at this level.Grand juries are used to indict a defendant in criminal cases.This is the only level of federal court that uses juries and witnesses.Some cases are heard by petit (trial) juries while some are heard by a judge (bench trial).
6U.S. Courts of Appeal — Intermediate-level Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction Courts of appeal do not hear new cases; they hear only cases on appeal.The United States is divided into 12 geographic regions (circuits) to hear appeals from the district courts. There is also a thirteenth appeals court, called the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, located in Washington, D.C.
7U.S. District CourtsThe United States district courts are the trial courts of the federal court system. Within limits set by Congress and the Constitution, the district courts have jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including both civil and criminal matters.Every day hundreds of people across the nation are selected for jury duty and help decide some of these cases.
8There are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Three territories of the United States -- the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands -- have district courts that hear federal cases, including bankruptcy cases.U.S. District Court for Statesboro
9Procedure in the Courts of Appeal BriefsOral argumentsNew factual evidence cannot be introduced.Appeals are based on legal issues rather than facts.No witnesses are called or cross-examined.The panel issues a decision, often weeks or even months after the oral arguments.In important cases, the decision may be accompanied by a written opinion that explains the reasoning of the court.Decisions establish precedents that guide other judges; significance of stare decisis
10U.S. Supreme CourtA court of both original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdictionThe size of the Court is determined by Congress; the number has been set at nine since 1869.The decisions and opinions of the Supreme Court become the most important sources of precedent on federal and constitutional questions for courts at all levels of jurisdiction.
11Congress determines the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court serves as an appellate court for the federal appeals courts and for the highest courts of the states.Appellate jurisdiction is discretionary; the Supreme Court decides for itself whether to accept the case.
12The Constitution establishes the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Disputes involving ambassadors and other diplomatic personnelCases in which two or more states are parties to the disputeDisputes between the federal government and a stateDisputes between a state and a citizen from another state
139 Members of the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice8 Associate JudgesCan you name them?
14Appointment to the Federal Bench The appointment processNominated by the presidentCharacteristics of federal judgesAdvice and consent — the Senate’s power to confirm or reject presidential nominations
15IdeologyPast political and ideological positions of federal court nominees are generally a good guide to their later behavior on the bench.Presidents are sometimes surprised by decisions of their nominees.
16The Supreme Court in Action The Supreme Court is in session from the first Monday in October until late June or early July.The Court is a tradition-bound institution defined by many rituals (such as entering the courtroom in order of seniority) and long-standing norms (which are unwritten but clearly understood ways of behaving).SecrecyCourtesySeniorityPrecedent
17The Court has a number of screening mechanisms to control its docket. Cases must be real and adverse.Parties in a case must have standing.Cases must be ripe.Appeals must be filed within a specified time limit, paperwork must be proper and complete, and a filing fee must be paid.Requirements may be waived if a petitioner is indigent and files an affidavit in forma pauperis.The most important tool that the Court has for controlling its agenda is the power to grant or not to grant a writ of certiorari (cert).
18Deciding CasesCases that are granted cert will be scheduled for oral argument.After reading the briefs and hearing oral arguments, the justices meet in conference to deliberate and reach a decision.Written opinion — a statement of the legal reasoning that supports the decision of the Court
19Key Personnel Chief Justice Solicitor GeneralName this personLaw clerksU.S. Department of Justice & Attorney General
20The Supreme Court As a National Policymaker People often say that the Court should not make policy but should only settle disputes.The Court can’t help but make public policy because the disputes it settles involve contentious public issues and fundamental questions about the meaning of our constitutional rules.There are certain restrictions on the Court’s power to make policy.
21Structural Change and Constitutional Interpretation: Three Periods in the History of U.S. Constitutional LawPeriod I: National power and property rightsPeriod II: Government and the economyPeriod III: Individual rights and liberties
22The Debate Over Judicial Activism Judicial reviewReversing past Supreme Court decisionsDeciding political questionsRemediesLoose construction contrasted with original intentionThe modern Court is more activist than it was in the past.
23The Courts and Democracy Courts make public policy.Judges are limited by the actions and preferences of many other political and governmental actors.
24Georgia Judicial Branch Georgia Supreme CourtGeorgia State Court SystemBulloch County State Court The State Court of Bulloch County has jurisdiction over misdemeanor and traffic offenses in Bulloch County, and over most types of civil law suits. Bulloch County Probate Court
25EndShould federal judges – including the Supreme Court justices – be elected in partisan and/or non-partisan elections?Should there be term-limits?