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The Court System Institutions of Federal Government #5.

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Presentation on theme: "The Court System Institutions of Federal Government #5."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Court System Institutions of Federal Government #5

2 Power of the Supreme Court Constitutional Powers – Hamilton viewed the Court as the “least dangerous” branch of government because it could not “command the sword” or “command the purse.” – Powers given were vague and limited

3 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?

4 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

5 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.)

6 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.

7 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.

8 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.

9 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.

10 Brief History of the Courts National Supremacy and Slavery (1789-1861) Marbury v. Madison (1803) McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) Government and the Economy (1865-1936) When could state and federal government regulate the economy? Private Property protected but could not develop a identity on what was reasonable regulation of the economy. 14 th and 15 th Amendment narrowly interpreted Government and Political Liberty (1936 to Now) Defers to legislature on economic issues. Defining rights. Beginning in 1992 started reversing trend towards increased federal power.

11 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.

12 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.

13 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

14 State Court Structure

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

16 The Overall Court Structure

17 U.S. District Courts

18 Selection of Judges All federal judges serve for lifetime terms pending “good behavior” Nominated by President Confirmed by Congress

19 Considerations for Selection Judicial Behavior – Party background has a strong impact on judicial behavior – But it is not the only factor that influences cases (facts of case, precedence, legal arguments made) Senatorial Courtesy – Appointees for federal courts are reviewed by Senators from that state (if same party as President) The Litmus Test – Test of ideological compatibility – Leads to conflicting circuit court rulings due to different Presidential Appointments – Leads to less confirmations since ideology gets involved – Threat of filibuster leads Presidents to seek 60 votes to confirm.

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