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The Judicial Branch Constitutional Guardians. Introduction Today, there are 51 court systems in the US (one for each state & a separate federal system)

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Presentation on theme: "The Judicial Branch Constitutional Guardians. Introduction Today, there are 51 court systems in the US (one for each state & a separate federal system)"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Judicial Branch Constitutional Guardians

2 Introduction Today, there are 51 court systems in the US (one for each state & a separate federal system) Today, there are 51 court systems in the US (one for each state & a separate federal system) 95% of all cases are heard in state court- only 5% make it to federal court 95% of all cases are heard in state court- only 5% make it to federal court Under the Articles of Confederation, there was no federal court Under the Articles of Confederation, there was no federal court The Constitution established the Supreme Court and gave Congress the power to create all other federal courts The Constitution established the Supreme Court and gave Congress the power to create all other federal courts

3 What is Jurisdiction? Jurisdiction- the authority of a court to hear a case Jurisdiction- the authority of a court to hear a case There are 4 types of jurisdiction: There are 4 types of jurisdiction: Exclusive- case can only be heard in a particular court Exclusive- case can only be heard in a particular court Concurrent- state & federal courts could both hear the case Concurrent- state & federal courts could both hear the case Original- a court is the first to hear a case Original- a court is the first to hear a case Appellate- a court hears the case from a lower court on an appeal Appellate- a court hears the case from a lower court on an appeal

4 Federal Courts can hear a case if: The subject matter deals with the Constitution, a treaty, or a law passed by Congress The subject matter deals with the Constitution, a treaty, or a law passed by Congress The subject matter arising on the high seas or navicable waters of the US The subject matter arising on the high seas or navicable waters of the US US Govt officials are involved US Govt officials are involved An ambassador or foreign minister are involved An ambassador or foreign minister are involved A US citizen is suing a foreign govt A US citizen is suing a foreign govt One of the parties are from the same state where both claim land in a different state One of the parties are from the same state where both claim land in a different state

5 Federal District Courts Federal Trial Courts of original jurisdiction hear both civil and criminal cases Federal Trial Courts of original jurisdiction hear both civil and criminal cases District Courts handle 80% of all federal cases (300,000 cases a year) District Courts handle 80% of all federal cases (300,000 cases a year) 89 Federal District Courts nationwide that are divided into 12 regions (circuits) 89 Federal District Courts nationwide that are divided into 12 regions (circuits) Over 600 judges preside over district courts Over 600 judges preside over district courts

6 Federal Circuit Court Created by Congress in 1891 to reduce the work load of the Supreme Court Created by Congress in 1891 to reduce the work load of the Supreme Court Only has appellate jurisdiction Only has appellate jurisdiction They hear 55,000 cases a year They hear 55,000 cases a year Usually hear appeals from District Courts Usually hear appeals from District Courts 12 of these courts nationwide 12 of these courts nationwide Approximately 180 judges Approximately 180 judges Judges usually hear cases in panels of three (en banc) Judges usually hear cases in panels of three (en banc)

7 Supreme Court Made up of a Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices (9 in total) Made up of a Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices (9 in total) Sometimes called court of last resort Sometimes called court of last resort Has both original and appellate jurisdiction, but almost always hears cases on appeal Has both original and appellate jurisdiction, but almost always hears cases on appeal 7 to 8,000 cases appealed to Supreme Court each year but they only hear a few hundred 7 to 8,000 cases appealed to Supreme Court each year but they only hear a few hundred

8 Judges The president appoints federal judges and the Senate confirms the appointments The president appoints federal judges and the Senate confirms the appointments Most judges are leading attorneys, scholars, professors, or state judges Most judges are leading attorneys, scholars, professors, or state judges Terms: Terms: Constitutional Court Judges- Life Constitutional Court Judges- Life Special Court Judges- 15 years Special Court Judges- 15 years Pay: Pay: Chief Justice $202,900 Chief Justice $202,900 Associate Justices $194,200 Associate Justices $194,200 Federal Circuit Court of Appeals judges $164,100 Federal Circuit Court of Appeals judges $164,100 Federal District Court Judges $154,700 Federal District Court Judges $154,700

9 More on the Supreme Court Cases arrive at the Supreme Court in 2 ways Cases arrive at the Supreme Court in 2 ways From one of 50 State Supreme Courts From one of 50 State Supreme Courts From one of the Circuit Courts of Appeals From one of the Circuit Courts of Appeals Once a case has arrived on the docket, the Court decides rather or not to hear it Once a case has arrived on the docket, the Court decides rather or not to hear it

10 Hear or no Hear? At least four justices must agree to hear a case before it is accepted At least four justices must agree to hear a case before it is accepted Writ of Certiorari- directs lower court to send up record of the case for review (appealing to the Supreme court is asking for a writ of cert---most are denied) Writ of Certiorari- directs lower court to send up record of the case for review (appealing to the Supreme court is asking for a writ of cert---most are denied) The Supreme Court will not usually hear a case unless it raises some important Constitutional question The Supreme Court will not usually hear a case unless it raises some important Constitutional question

11 Court Operation The Court considers cases in 2 week cycles from October to May The Court considers cases in 2 week cycles from October to May Briefs are filed with the court that support each side of the case Briefs are filed with the court that support each side of the case Sometimes, the court hears oral arguments (each side gets 25 minutes to speak) Sometimes, the court hears oral arguments (each side gets 25 minutes to speak) Justices meet in conference on Wednesdays and Fridays to consider cases Justices meet in conference on Wednesdays and Fridays to consider cases It usually takes months for the court to reach a decision (sometimes they speed up the process) It usually takes months for the court to reach a decision (sometimes they speed up the process)

12 Decision Time A decision is made by majority vote A decision is made by majority vote 3 Opinions are written: 3 Opinions are written: Majority Opinion- The official written opinion of the court Majority Opinion- The official written opinion of the court Concurring Opinion- A justice gives of different explanation of why he/she agrees with the majority Concurring Opinion- A justice gives of different explanation of why he/she agrees with the majority Dissenting Opinion- Justice(s) give an explanation of why they disagree with the majority Dissenting Opinion- Justice(s) give an explanation of why they disagree with the majority

13 Influences on Opinion Judicial Activism- a judge uses his/her opinion to promote desirable social ends (ex. Civil Rights, social welfare) Judicial Activism- a judge uses his/her opinion to promote desirable social ends (ex. Civil Rights, social welfare) Judicial Restraint- a judge should defer his/her opinion to the actions of other two branches (expect when actions are clearly unconstitutional) Judicial Restraint- a judge should defer his/her opinion to the actions of other two branches (expect when actions are clearly unconstitutional)

14 Who makes up the Supreme Court? There are 4 justices considered to be conservatives on the Supreme Court There are 4 justices considered to be conservatives on the Supreme Court From L to R- Chief Justice John Roberts (50 yrs old- appointed by GW Bush), and associate justices Antonin Scalia (66- Reagan) From L to R- Chief Justice John Roberts (50 yrs old- appointed by GW Bush), and associate justices Antonin Scalia (66- Reagan)

15 Who, Part II From L to R-Associate Justices Samual Alito (55 yrs old- appointed by GW Bush), and and Clarence Thomas (54- H.W. Bush) From L to R-Associate Justices Samual Alito (55 yrs old- appointed by GW Bush), and and Clarence Thomas (54- H.W. Bush)

16 Who else? There are 3 justices considered to be liberals on the Supreme Court There are 3 justices considered to be liberals on the Supreme Court From L to R- Associate Justices John Paul Stevens (82 yrs old- appointed by Ford), Stephen Breyer (64- Clinton) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (69- Clinton) From L to R- Associate Justices John Paul Stevens (82 yrs old- appointed by Ford), Stephen Breyer (64- Clinton) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (69- Clinton)

17 Who else, else? There are 2 justices considered to be swing votes on the Supreme Court There are 2 justices considered to be swing votes on the Supreme Court From L to R- Anthony Kennedy (66- Reagan) and David Souter (63- H.W. Bush) From L to R- Anthony Kennedy (66- Reagan) and David Souter (63- H.W. Bush)

18 What are Special Courts? Special Courts- courts created by Congress to hear certain cases Special Courts- courts created by Congress to hear certain cases 8 of these have since been created 8 of these have since been created

19 Some Special Courts US Court of Federal Claims- hears civil claims against the US Government US Court of Federal Claims- hears civil claims against the US Government US Tax Court- hears civil cases dealing with taxes US Tax Court- hears civil cases dealing with taxes US Court of Intl Trade- hears civil cases arising out of trade related laws US Court of Intl Trade- hears civil cases arising out of trade related laws Territorial Courts- Courts set up for US Territories (Guam, Puerto Rico) Territorial Courts- Courts set up for US Territories (Guam, Puerto Rico)

20 Some more Special Courts Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims- hears appeals from decisions made by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims- hears appeals from decisions made by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit- hears appeals from the Court of Intl Trade, Court of Federal Claims, and Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit- hears appeals from the Court of Intl Trade, Court of Federal Claims, and Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Military Court- conducted by military (court martial) Military Court- conducted by military (court martial) Court of Military Appeals- hears appeals from military court (civilian judges) Court of Military Appeals- hears appeals from military court (civilian judges)


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