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Structure of the Federal Courts Supreme Choice Process & Politics of Presidential Nominations to the Supreme Court Chapter 16, Themes B & C.

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Presentation on theme: "Structure of the Federal Courts Supreme Choice Process & Politics of Presidential Nominations to the Supreme Court Chapter 16, Themes B & C."— Presentation transcript:

1 Structure of the Federal Courts Supreme Choice Process & Politics of Presidential Nominations to the Supreme Court Chapter 16, Themes B & C

2 State RouteFederal Route

3 The Federal Courts Federal District Courts: Federal District Courts: Have original jurisdiction in most federal criminal & civil cases. Have original jurisdiction in most federal criminal & civil cases. 94 districts, at least one per state. 94 districts, at least one per state. Nearest courthouse is Elizabeth City. Nearest courthouse is Elizabeth City. Are “work horses of the federal system.” Most cases heard here. Are “work horses of the federal system.” Most cases heard here. Only federal court where a jury trial is held. All others have bench trials. Only federal court where a jury trial is held. All others have bench trials.

4 The Federal Courts US Court of Appeals: US Court of Appeals: 12 regular circuits, including 1 in D.C. 12 regular circuits, including 1 in D.C. Judges sit in panels of 3. Judges sit in panels of 3. Hear only appeals. Hear only appeals. NC in Circuit 4, centered in Richmond, VA. NC in Circuit 4, centered in Richmond, VA. The 13 th circuit or “Federal Circuit” was created in 1982 in Washington, DC to hear civil appeals from several courts & the Patent Office. The 13 th circuit or “Federal Circuit” was created in 1982 in Washington, DC to hear civil appeals from several courts & the Patent Office.

5 US Judicial Circuits

6 The Federal Courts Legislative Courts: Help Congress exercise its power: Legislative Courts: Help Congress exercise its power: US Claims Ct.: Hear money suits vs. US (Civil Court) US Claims Ct.: Hear money suits vs. US (Civil Court) US Tax Ct.: Hear civil disputes with IRS (Civil Court) US Tax Ct.: Hear civil disputes with IRS (Civil Court) Ct. of Military Appeals: Also called GI’s Supreme Court (Criminal Appeals) Ct. of Military Appeals: Also called GI’s Supreme Court (Criminal Appeals) Ct. of Veteran Appeals: Hear disputes over benefits with the Dept. of VA (Civil Court) Ct. of Veteran Appeals: Hear disputes over benefits with the Dept. of VA (Civil Court) Territorial Courts: Run like state courts. Territories are US Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, N. Marianas Islands. (Criminal, Civil, Territorial Constitutional) Territorial Courts: Run like state courts. Territories are US Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, N. Marianas Islands. (Criminal, Civil, Territorial Constitutional) DC Courts: Run like municipal courts in most large cities. (Civil & Criminal Courts) DC Courts: Run like municipal courts in most large cities. (Civil & Criminal Courts)

7 Appointments to the Federal Bench Review process. Review process. What is senatorial courtesy & when is it used? What is senatorial courtesy & when is it used? Counter to Constitution? Counter to Constitution? When is this practice irrelevant? When is this practice irrelevant? Why is appointing a Justice so scrutinized today? Why is appointing a Justice so scrutinized today?

8 Political Cartoon A Political Cartoon A Title: The Supreme Court Location Mike Keefe, The Denver Post, Oct. 6, 2004 http://cagle.slate.msn.com/politicalcartoons/

9 Political Cartoon B Political Cartoon B Title: Qualifications www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/frugal-blog

10 Political Cartoon C Political Cartoon C Title: Supreme Court - 31 Flavors Robert Ariail, The State, Aug. 10, 2005 http://cagle.slate.msn.com/politicalcartoons/

11 Political Cartoon D Political Cartoon D Title: The Confirmation Process www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/frugal-blog

12 Political Cartoon E Political Cartoon E Title: Go My Pretties! Henry Payne, The Detroit News, Aug. 11, 2005 http://cagle.slate.msn.com/politicalcartoons/

13 Political Cartoon F Political Cartoon F Title: Supreme Court Exam Jimmy Margulies, New Jersey -- The Record, Aug. 11, 2005 http://cagle.slate.msn.com/politicalcartoons/

14 Factors That Influence Supreme Court Nominations

15 Party affiliation (80% or higher) Party affiliation (80% or higher) Judicial Philosophy Judicial Philosophy “Litmus Test” - where nominees stand on controversial issues like abortion “Litmus Test” - where nominees stand on controversial issues like abortion Background of nominee (education, experience, race, gender, ethnicity, etc.) Background of nominee (education, experience, race, gender, ethnicity, etc.) Cultivating political support Political favors Interest group input American Bar Association certification Securing a “safe” nominee

16 The U.S. Constitution and the Appointment of Supreme Court Justices Article II, Section 2 describes the appointment powers of the President: “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate …to… nominate Judges of the Supreme Court….”

17 The U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court Article III describes the judicial power of the Supreme Court: “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress May …establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior…”

18 U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process Stage 1: Presidential Nomination Stage 2: Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Stage 3: Full Senate Vote WHITE HOUSE REVIEW Certification MEDIA Influence FBI Investigation INTEREST GROUP Influence Stage 4: Oath of Office?

19 U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process 1.White House staff reviews candidates and submits a short list to president 2.FBI background investigation 3.Candidates submit financial disclosure forms 4.ABA grades candidates 5.Interest groups weigh in on candidates 6.President selects nominee 1.White House staff reviews candidates and submits a short list to president 2.FBI background investigation 3.Candidates submit financial disclosure forms 4.ABA grades candidates 5.Interest groups weigh in on candidates 6.President selects nominee Stage 1 Presidential Nomination

20 U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process 1.Senate Judiciary members and their staffs review candidate’s background (may conduct own investigation) 2.Interest groups may conduct campaigns for or against nominee (including TV ads) 3.Intense media attention to Senate hearings 4.Senate Judiciary Committee questions candidate on judicial philosophy, stands on key issues, etc. 5.Judiciary Committee votes up or down on nominee and sends recommendation to full Senate Stage 2 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings

21 U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process 1. Floor debate on nominee 2. Confirmation vote by full Senate Stage 3 Full Senate Vote

22 U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Process 1. If confirmed by the Senate, nominee sworn in, usually by Chief Justice 2. Once on the Court, justices often make decisions on the bench very different from what the nominating President had anticipated Stage 4 Oath of Office independent judiciary


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