Figure 16.2: The Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts
The Supreme Court in Action Most cases arrive through a writ of certiorari or cert. Rule of 4 applies to get cert! Do not have to give reason-See recent exception!recent exception Lawyers then submit briefs that set forth the facts of the case, summarizes the lower court decision, gives the argument of that side of the case, and discusses other issues. Many interest groups “lobby” the court with amicus briefs. Oral arguments are given by lawyers after briefs are submitted. Each side has 30 minutes. Example: Oral Arguments before Court on Snyder v. PhelpsExample: Oral Arguments before Court on Snyder v. Phelps
The Supreme Court in Action Conference held on Fridays. The Chief Justice speaks first, then in order of seniority. Purpose? The least tenured votes first, then in reverse order of seniority. Purpose? No one is ever allowed in the conference room except Justices. Purpose? After voting, the opinion writing is assigned. Who does this & how?
Kinds of Court Opinions Per curiam: brief and unsigned Opinion of the court: majority opinion Concurring opinion: agrees with the ruling of the majority opinion, but modifies the supportive reasoning Dissenting opinion: minority opinion See example of TX v. Johnson case.
Why Opinions are important Generally follow policy of stare decisis. –Advantages? Consistency, control of cases –Disadvantages? Lower Cts. Set precedents, predictability Opinions give rationale of Court’s thinking When they “break with a precedent” the new opinion is a guide to the lower courts. Dissenting opinions may be used as a precedent in reversing prior decisions.
Example Get into groups of 3-5 (Need an odd number). Choose a chief justice. Read the cases in order on the Symbaloo board. Discuss the case in conference. Write opinions. Do whole class discussion. Read opinions.
Basic Biographical Information Review the bios of the nine Supreme Court Justices Try and determine if the Justice is conservative or liberal…what factor makes it the most obvious? Other factors?
Chief Justice John Roberts Harvard Law Law clerk for Rehnquist Associate Counsel to Reagan US Court of Appeals for D.C. Nominated Chief Justice by Pres. Bush 2005
Antonin Scalia Harvard Law Law Professor UVA, Georgetown, Stanford U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Nominated Associate Justice by Pres. Reagan in 1986
Anthony Kennedy Harvard Law Chaired the Committee on Pacific Territories U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit Nominated Associate Justice by Pres. Reagan 1988
Clarence Thomas Yale Law Asst. Attorney General of Missouri Asst. Sec. for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Ed. Chairman EEO Commission Nominated Associate Justice by Pres. Bush 1991
Ruth Bader Ginsberg Harvard and Cornell Law School Law Professor at Rutgers, Columbia 1971 - Launched the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU ACLU General Counsel and Board of Directors Nominated Associate Justice by Pres. Clinton in 1993
Stephen Breyer Harvard Law Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit Nominated Associate Justice by Pres. Clinton 1994
Samuel Alito Yale Law U.S. Attorney New Jersey U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Nominated Associate Justice by Pres. Bush 2006
Sonia Sotomayor Yale Law Professor of Law at NYU School of Law and Columbia Law School U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit Nominated Associate Justice by Pres. Obama in 2009.
Elena Kagan Harvard Law Professor at University of Chicago Law School, Dean of Harvard Law Asst. White House Counsel to Clinton Solicitor General of the US Nominated Associate Justice by Pres. Obama 2010
Assignment Research at least 5 rulings from last term and compile a paragraph explaining whether your assigned justice is a judicial activist or strict constructionist. Use Symbaloo board link to Oyez. http://www.oyez.org/cases/2012 Finish chapter 16. Take notes on activism pros/cons, checks on judiciary, & reforms. Due Tuesday!