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JUSTICE FOR ALL? How Cases Reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Presentation on theme: "JUSTICE FOR ALL? How Cases Reach the U.S. Supreme Court."— Presentation transcript:

1 JUSTICE FOR ALL? How Cases Reach the U.S. Supreme Court

2 The Supreme Court  The highest court in the judicial branch of the U.S. gov’t  The court of last resort in civil and criminal cases

3 The Nine Justices  One Chief Justice  Eight associate justices  Appointed by the president  With the advice and consent of the Senate  Serve during good behavior until death, retirement, or resignation U.S. Canada

4 Judicial Review  Judicial review empowers the Court to:  Interpret the Constitution and invalidate laws violating the Constitution  Interpret federal statutes and other federal law  Ensure the supremacy of federal laws over state and local laws

5 Legal Influences  The Constraints of the Facts  The circumstances of a litigation  Cannot rule unless the parties bring an actual case  The Constraints of the Law  Which laws are relevant  Interpretation of the Constitution  Interpretation of statutes  Interpretation of precedent

6 Political Influences  Outside Influences  Public opinion  Interest groups  Public officials  Inside Influences  Personal beliefs  Political attitudes  Relationships between justices

7 Appeals from Federal Courts


9 Getting Your Day in Court  Requests for review per year: ~9000  Decisions per year: ~80  Cases can reach the Supreme Court in three ways. Granted (1%)  Not Granted (99%) Supreme Court Review

10 Path #1: Original Jurisdiction  Cases that only the Supreme Court is empowered to hear  Don’t require appeal  Example: disputes between states over boundaries  Relatively rare (1-2 per Term)

11 Path #2: Appeal from Federal Court  Cases on appeal from lower federal courts  The Court is required to hear some cases as a matter of law.  However, it can choose to hear most cases as a matter of discretion.  By granting or refusing a writ of certiorari  Granting the writ requires four justices to vote to hear case

12 Path #3: Appeal from State Court  Cases on appeal from state supreme courts that present a substantial federal question  Usually involving the denial of constitutional rights  Review is discretionary

13 Process  Justices grant certiorari  Parties submit briefs  Others who are not involved in the case but have an interest in the outcome submit amicus briefs  Oral arguments  Opinions

14 Oral Arguments  Give-and-take between the lawyers and the Justices  Helps identify issues that weren’t properly briefed  Magnifies the strengths and weaknesses of each side's arguments  Lets Justices ask hypothetical questions to gauge likely effects  Allows the public and media to hear judicial proceedings Blah!

15 Opinions  Very long, extensively footnoted documents that serve as a record of the decisions  Written with help of Justices’ law clerks  Four main types  Majority  Concurring  Dissenting  Per curiam

16 Lockyer v. Andrade  Under California’s three strikes law, a court sentenced Andrade to life in prison for shoplifting. Did this violate 8 th Amendment prohibition on cruel & unusual punishment? Andrade Chemerinsky (Lawyer)

17 Lockyer: Holding  No. Without any clearly established law to define a three-strikes policy as cruel and unusual punishment, Andrade’s sentence didn’t violate the 8 th Amendment.

18 Sources on Lockyer v. Andrade  et/2002/november.html (lower court decisions and briefs) et/2002/november.html  2009/2002/2002_01_1127 (audio recording and transcript of oral argument) 2009/2002/2002_01_1127  1127.ZS.html (Supreme Court opinions) 1127.ZS.html

19 Morse v. Frederick  An Alaska high school principal disciplined a student for displaying a banner saying “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” at a school-sponsored event. Did this violate First Amendment protection for freedom of speech?

20 Morse: Holding  No. Without violating the First Amendment, educators could suppress student speech at school-supervised events on the grounds that the speech was reasonably viewed as promoting use of illegal drugs.

21 Morse: Appeal Oral Argument Student Protest Mertz (Lawyer)  Morse v. Frederick raised questions about the balance between the right to speech versus the need for order. Some students had very strong opinions on where to draw the line.

22 Morse: Conclusion  Morse v. Frederick eventually settled for $45,000. Last we heard, Frederick was abroad teaching English (but not constitutional law) in China. Meanwhile, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” became a popular T- shirt slogan.

23 Sources on Morse v. Frederick  frederick (Supreme Court briefs) frederick  2009/2006/2006_06_278 (audio recording and transcript of oral argument) 2009/2006/2006_06_278  278.ZS.html (Supreme Court opinion) 278.ZS.html

24 Safford Unified School Dist. v. Redding  Arizona school officials strip-searched a 13-year-old girl accused of giving her classmate some Ibuprofen. Did this violate Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches? Redding, her mom, and her attorney YouTube video: Savana Redding

25 Safford: Holding  Yes. The strip search violated the Fourth Amendment because the officials lacked reasons to suspect that the Ibuprofen was a danger or that it was concealed in her underwear.

26 Sources on Safford v. Redding  files/cases/safford-united-school-district-1-v- redding/ (lower court decisions and briefs) files/cases/safford-united-school-district-1-v- redding/  2009/2008/2008_08_479 (oral argument transcript and audio recording) 2009/2008/2008_08_479  479.ZS.html (Supreme Court opinion) 479.ZS.html

27 Select Sources   This presentation is adjourned.

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