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The Federal Courts. The Court Yesterday  The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States as of 2006. Top row (left to right): Stephen G. Breyer,

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Presentation on theme: "The Federal Courts. The Court Yesterday  The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States as of 2006. Top row (left to right): Stephen G. Breyer,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Federal Courts

2 The Court Yesterday  The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States as of Top row (left to right): Stephen G. Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Samuel A. Alito. Bottom row (left to right): Anthony M. Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Antonin G. Scalia, and David H. Souter.Stephen G. BreyerClarence ThomasRuth Bader Ginsburg Samuel A. AlitoAnthony M. KennedyJohn Paul StevensJohn G. RobertsAntonin G. ScaliaDavid H. Souter

3 The Court Today  Front row (L-R): Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Back Row (L-R), Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

4 The Constitution and the Creation of the Federal Judiciary  Framers devoted little time to the creation of the judiciary. Believed it posed little of the threat of tyranny they feared from the other two branches. Anti-federalists did see the judiciary as a threat.  Framers left it to Congress to design the federal judiciary.

5 Article III  Did not settle the question of judicial review Not explicitly stated in the Constitution Allows the judiciary to review the constitutionality of acts of the other branches of government and the states  Judicial review settled with Marbury v. Madison (1803) for national government’s acts and Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816) regarding state law

6 The Judicial Power of the United States Supreme Court The following are the types of cases the Supreme Court was given the jurisdiction to hear as initially specified in the Constitution: All cases arising under the Constitution and laws or treaties of the United States All cases of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction Cases in which the United States is a party Controversies between a state and citizens of another state Controversies between two or more states Controversies between citizens of different states Controversies between citizens of the same states claiming lands under grants in different states Controversies between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states or citizens thereof All cases affecting ambassadors or other public ministers

7 Article III  Section I gave Congress the authority to establish other courts as it saw fit.  Section II specifies the judicial power of the Supreme Court and discusses the Court’s original and appellate jurisdiction. Also specifies that all federal crimes, except those involving impeachment, shall be tried by jury in the state in which the crime was committed.  Section III defines treason, and mandates that at least two witnesses appear in such cases.

8 Article III  Framers gave federal judges tenure for life “with good behavior.” Did not want judges to be subject to the whims of politics, the public, or politicians Hamilton argued in Federalist 78 that the “independence of judges” was needed “to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals.”  Some checks on judiciary included: Congress has the authority to alter the Court’s jurisdiction. Congress can propose constitutional amendments that, if ratified, can effectively reverse judicial decisions. Congress can impeach and remove federal judges. President (with advise and consent of Senate) appoints federal judges.

9 The Judiciary Act of 1789 and the Creation of the Federal Judicial System  Established the basic three-tiered structure of the federal court system District courts: at least one in each state, each staffed by a federal judge. Circuit Court: avenue for appeal.  Each circuit court initially composed of one district court judge and two itinerant Supreme Court Justices who met as a circuit court twice a year Supreme Court size set in the Act – chief justice and five associates  Number of justices set to 9 in 1869.

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11 The Early Court  First decade, Court not co-equal but it did assert itself. Declined to give President Washington advice on the legality of some of his actions  Attempted to establish the Court as an independent, nonpolitical branch Tried to advance principles of nationalism and to maintain the national government’s supremacy over the states Began to pave the way for announcement of the doctrine of judicial review

12 The Marshall Court: Marbury v. Madison (1803) and Judicial Review  Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court first asserted the power of judicial review (define) in finding that the congressional statute extending the Court’s original jurisdiction was unconstitutional. Marshall claimed this sweeping authority for the Court by asserting that the right of judicial review was a power that could be implied from the Constitution’s supremacy clause (define). The immediate effect was to deny power to the Court. The long term effect was to establish the power of judicial review.

13 The American Legal System  Trial courts Courts of original jurisdiction where a case begins  Appellate courts Courts that generally review only findings of law made by lower courts  Jurisdiction Authority vested in a particular court to hear and decide the issues in any particular case Original jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of courts that hears a case first, usually in a trial. Courts determine the facts of a case under their original jurisdiction. Appellate jurisdiction: The power vested in an appellate court to review and/or revise the decision of a lower court.

14 The American Legal System  Criminal law Codes of behavior related to the protection of property and individual safety  Civil law Codes of behavior related to business and contractual relationships between groups and individuals

15 The Nature of the Judicial System  Participants in the Judicial System Litigants  Plaintiff - the party bringing the charge  Defendant - the party being charged  Jury - the people (normally 12) who often decide the outcome of a case  Standing to sue - plaintiffs have a serious interest in the case.  Justiciable disputes – A case must be capable of being settled as a matter of law.  Plea Bargains – most common result

16 Figure 16.1 The Structure of the Federal Judicial System

17 The Federal Court System  Constitutional courts Federal courts specifically created by the U.S. Constitution or Congress pursuant to its authority in Article III  Legislative courts Courts established by Congress for specialized purposes, such as the Court of Military Appeals

18 The Federal Court System  District Courts 94 federal district courts staffed by 646 active judges, assisted by more than 300 retired judges No district courts cross state lines. Every state has at least one federal district court. The most populous states have four (CA, TX, and NY). Georgia has three.

19 Original Jurisdiction of Federal District Courts  Involve the federal government as a party  Present a federal question based on a claim under the U.S. Constitution, a treaty with another nation, or a federal statute  Involve civil suits in which citizens are from different states, and the amount of money at issue is more than $75,000

20 District Courts  Each federal judicial district has a U.S. attorney. This individual is nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate. The attorney is that district’s chief law enforcement officer. They have a considerable amount of discretion as to whether they pursue criminal or civil investigations or file charges against individuals or corporations.

21 The Federal Courts of Appeals  The losing party in a case heard and decided in a federal district court can appeal the decision to the appropriate court of appeals.  11 numbered circuit courts  Twelfth, D.C. Court of Appeals Handles most appeals involving federal regulatory commissions and agencies  Thirteenth, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Deals with patents and contract and financial claims against the federal government  Have no original jurisdiction  Try to correct errors of law and procedure that have occurred in the lower courts or administrative agencies  Hear no new testimony.

22 The Structure of the Federal Judicial System  The Federal Judicial Circuits (Figure 16.2)

23 The Structure of the Federal Judicial System  The Supreme Court 9 justices – 1 Chief Justice, 8 Associate Justices Supreme Court decides which cases it will hear Some original jurisdiction, but mostly appellate jurisdiction. Most cases come from the federal courts Most cases are civil cases

24 The Supreme Court  Decisions of the court of appeals are binding on only the district courts within the geographic confines of the circuit.  Decisions of the Supreme Court are binding throughout the nation and establish national precedents. Reliance on past decisions or precedents to formulate decisions in new cases is called “stare decisis.” Allows for continuity and predictability

25 How Federal Court Judges Are Selected  Often a very political process  Judges nominated by president and confirmed by Senate  Can reflect the ideological stamp of the president – WHY?  Senatorial Courtesy A process by which presidents, when selecting district court judges, defer to the senator in whose state the vacancy occurs.

26 Who Are Federal Judges?  Typically they have held other political offices. State court judge or prosecutor Most have been involved in politics White males tend to dominate

27 Appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court  Nomination Criteria Competence Ideology or Policy Preference  Strict constructionist: an approach to constitutional interpretation that emphasizes the Framer’s original intentions.  Who is/ are the strict constructionists on the Court today? Pursuit of Political Support from Various Groups Litmus Test

28 The Supreme Court Confirmation Process  Investigation  Lobbying by Interest Groups  Senate Committee Hearings  Senate Vote

29 The Politics of Judicial Selection  The Supreme Court President relies on attorney general and DOJ to screen candidates. 1 out of 5 nominees will not make it. Presidents with minority party support in the Senate will have more trouble. Chief Justice can be chosen from a sitting justice, or a new member.

30 The Backgrounds of Judges and Justices  Characteristics: Generally white males Lawyers with judicial and often political experience  Other Factors: Generally of the same party as the appointing president Litmus Test – What is it today? Judges and justices may disappoint the appointing president

31 The Supreme Court Today: Deciding to Hear a Case  9,000 cases were filed at the Supreme Court in its term. Not always the norm 1940s fewer than 1000 cases filed annually During the term, 90 cases were argued and 73 signed petitions were issued. Modern period, many of the cases have involved Bill of Rights issues

32 How Does a Case Survive the Process?  Characteristics of the cases the Court accepts: The federal government is the party asking for review.  Solicitor General – What does he do? The case involves conflict among circuit courts. The case presents a civil rights or civil liberties question. The case involves ideological and/or policy preferences of the justices. The case has significant social or political interest, as evidenced by the presence of interest group amicus curiae briefs.

33 Supreme Court Today  Court has two types of jurisdiction Original Appellate  Rule of Four Court controls its caseload through the certiorari process.  All petitions for certiorari must meet two criteria: The case must come either from a U.S. court of appeals, a special three-judge district court, or a state court of last resort. Case must involve a federal question. This means that the case must present questions of interpretation of federal constitutional law or involve a federal statute, action or treaty. Cert pool Discuss list Cert granted when at least four justices vote to hear a case

34 Hearing and Deciding a Case  Oral arguments  The conference and the vote  The opinion

35 Figure 16.4 The Courts as Policymakers  Accepting Cases Use the “rule of four” to choose cases. What is the rule of four? Issues a writ of certiorari to call up the case. Very few cases are actually accepted each year.

36 Figure 16.5 The Courts as Policymakers  Making Decisions Oral arguments may be made in a case. Justices discuss the case. One justice will write the majority opinion (statement of legal reasoning behind a judicial decision) on the case.

37 The Courts as Policymakers  Making Decisions, continued Dissenting opinions are written by justices who oppose the majority. Concurring opinions are written in support of the majority but stress a different legal basis. Stare decisis: to let the previous decision stand unchanged. Precedents: How similar past cases were decided. Original Intent: The idea that the Constitution should be viewed according to the original intent of the framers.

38 The Courts as Policymakers  Implementing Court Decisions Must rely on others to carry out decisions Interpreting population: understand the decision Implementing population: the people who need to carry out the decision – may be disagreement Consumer population: the people who are affected (or could be) by the decision

39 The Courts and the Policy Agenda  A Historical Review John Marshall ( ) and the Growth of Judicial Review  Marbury v. Madison  Judicial review: courts determine constitutionality of acts of Congress The “Nine Old Men” – switch in time and the New Deal The Warren Court – Liberal Activist – The Burger Court – The Rehnquist Court – The Roberts Court??? – 2005-

40 Selected Chief Justices Can you name them?

41 Judicial Policy Making and Implementation  Policy making: More than one hundred federal laws have been declared unconstitutional. Ability to overrule itself  Judicial Implementation: Refers to how and whether judicial decisions are translated into actual public policies affecting more than the immediate parties to a lawsuit.

42 Understanding the Courts  The Courts and Democracy Courts are not very democratic  Not elected  Difficult to remove The courts do reflect popular majorities Groups are likely to use the courts when other methods fail – promoting pluralism There are still conflicting rulings leading to deadlock and inconsistency Public opinion and the Supreme Court

43 Understanding the Courts  What Courts Should Do: The Scope of Judicial Power Judicial restraint: judges should play a minimal policymaking role - leave the policies to the legislative branch. Which party supports this? WHY? Judicial activism: judges should make bold policy decisions and even charting new constitutional ground. Which party/group supports this? WHY? Political questions: means of the federal courts to avoid deciding some cases. Statutory construction: the judicial interpretation of an act of Congress.

44 Judicial Philosophy and Decision Making  Judicial restraint: A philosophy of judicial decision making that argues courts should allow the decisions of other branches of government to stand, even when they offend a judge’s own sense of principles.  Judicial activism: A philosophy of judicial decision making that argues judges should use their power broadly to further justice, especially in the areas of equality and personal liberty.

45 SELECTIVE INCORPORATION  * Barron v. Baltimore 1833  * 14 th Amendment  * This is the process of the Supreme Court adhering the Bill of Rights to the states through the 14 th Amendment ( Due Process, equal protection)

46 The End


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