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The Judicial System Institutions of Federal Government #6.

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Presentation on theme: "The Judicial System Institutions of Federal Government #6."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Judicial System Institutions of Federal Government #6

2 Founders Views of the Courts The founders initially felt that the courts were the least powerful branch and would play little to no role in policy making In Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the court was the least dangerous branch for they controlled neither the “power of the sword” (war making abilities) or the “power of the purse” (tax and spending polices)

3 Structure of the Court System Dual Court System Keeping in line with federalism we have a dual court system. There is the State Court System and the Federal Court System

4 Types of Courts Trial Courts The most common (as seen on TV). In a trial court the goal is for the Jury to determine the facts of a case. The Judge only rules on issues of law (can something be done?). The Prosecution represents the state and provides facts to show a crime has been committed. The Defense represents the accused and provides facts to show that the defendant is not responsible for the crime. The jury must be unanimous or it is a mistrial.

5 Types of Courts Courts of Appeal A decision made at a trial court may be appealed to the courts of appeal. The appeal must be based on what somebody believes to be a mistake in the application of the law (illegal search, evidence not allowed to be introduced, new evidence comes to light, etc). You cannot appeal based on “the jury was wrong.” In this court only the lawyers appear before the panel of judges and provide legal arguments on why their side should win the appeal.

6 Jurisdiction of Federal Courts Original Jurisdiction Where cases are originally hears Federal Question Cases Cases concerning the Constitution, federal laws, or treaties Diversity Cases Cases involving citizens of different states Appellate Jurisdiction Cases brought on appeal from a lower court Writ of certiorari An order by a higher court directing a lower court to send up a case for review.

7 State Court Structure

8 Federal Court Structure Legislative Courts Created by Congress for specialized purposes Judges have fixed terms Judges can be removed

9 The Overall Court Structure

10 U.S. District Courts

11 The Structure of the Federal Judicial System District Courts (91 federal courts) – Original Jurisdiction: courts that hear the case first and determine the facts - the trial court Courts of Appeal – Appellate Jurisdiction: reviews the legal issues in cases brought from lower courts – Focus on errors of procedure and law The Supreme Court – Ensures uniformity in interpreting national laws, resolves conflicts among states and maintains national supremacy in law 9 justices – 1 Chief Justice, 8 Associate Justices Some original jurisdiction, but mostly appellate jurisdiction

12 The Power of Judicial Review The greatest power of the court is that of Judicial Review. Judicial Review is the ability to declare laws null and void on the grounds that they are unconstitutional (conflict with the supreme law of the land or source of law in the land) This power is NOT included in the Constitution. So where did it come from?

13 Marbury v. Madison (1803) The most important court case in the history of the United States. The Key Figures William MarburyJames MadisonChief Justice John Marshall

14 Marbury v. Madison (1803) Facts of the Case – The election of Thomas Jefferson in 1802 marked the first ever transition of power between two opposing political parties. – Prior to Jefferson taking office Adams (a Federalist) made a number of appointments to federal positions. One of those being William Marbury (to be Justice of the Peace in Washington D.C.)

15 Marbury v. Madison (1803) Facts of the Case (Continued) – Those appointments could not all be delivered prior to Jefferson taking office. When Jefferson became President, he named James Madison his Secretary of State. – Madison chose not to deliver the appointments left by Adams since they were going to Federalists. – Marbury sued under the Judicial Act of 1789 saying Madison should be forced to deliver the appointments.

16 Marbury v. Madison (1803) The Question before the Court – Could the court force James Madison to deliver the appointments? Chief Justice Marshall’s Dilemma – Marshall was a loyal Federalist and wanted the appointments to go through. But he also recognized that the Court had little enforcement power and doubted that Jefferson would comply with a ruling.

17 Marbury v. Madison (1803) The Ruling – Chief Justice Marshall wrote that what Madison did was illegal and that by law he was compelled to deliver the appointments. – However Marshall stated that the law under which Marbury sued, the Judicial Act of 1789, conflicted with the Constitution by expanding the power of the Supreme Court beyond what the constitution allowed – Marshall continued by stating there was no provision in the Constitution on how to deal with laws that go against it. – However it seemed natural that as the “interpreter of law” the Supreme Court was in a position to “review laws” that conflict. – Any law that conflicts with the Constitution could not stand since the Constitution is the “Supreme Law” of the land. – Therefore the Court has the ability to strike down laws if they are found to be unconstitutional. A power known as Judicial Review.

18 Marbury v. Madison (1803) Impact – Pleased Federalists to know they were in the right. – Pleased Jefferson that he wouldn’t have to have Madison deliver the appointments – Increased the power of the Supreme Court in relation to the other two branches.

19 Use of Judicial Review

20 Checks on Judicial Power Judges are not elected, nor can they be fired So how are they checked? Judges have no enforcement mechanisms Confirmation by Senate Impeachment for bad behavior Changing the number of judges Revising legislation Amending the Constitution Altering jurisdiction

21 The Biggest Check However…. Public Opinion – Although the appointment process and life terms insulate justices from public opinion it doesn’t do it fully. – Defying public opinion may harm the legitimacy and reputation of the Supreme Court. – Justices deliberate in secret. – Impeachment and lack of enforcement power mean justices are not completely isolated from public opinion. The Court counts on others to respect its decisions.

22 Figure 16.5 Patterns of Public Confidence in the Court, 1974–2006 Copyright © 2013 Cengage Source: The Gallup Poll.


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