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Chapter 16 The Federal Courts.

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1 Chapter 16 The Federal Courts

2 Understand the Nature of the Judicial System
Criminal Law: the gov’t charges an individual with violation of a specific law that warrants punishment Civil Law: involves a dispute between 2 parties 3 regular participants: Litigants (plaintiff/defendant), Groups (seek out cases/litigants that will benefit group’s goals), Attorneys Justiciable Disputes: requirement that for a case to be heard in court, it must be able to be solved by judicial methods

3 How Courts in the U.S. Are Organized & Their Jurisdiction
Constitutional Courts: lower courts of general jurisdiction established by Congress Legislative Courts: have specialized purposes; judges have terms and these courts cannot exercise judicial review U.S. Attorney: nominated by president and confirmed by Senate; they prosecute violations of federal law & represent the gov’t in civil cases. Structure of Fed. Judicial System: 91 District Courts- 680 total judges; original jurisdiction 12 Courts of Appeals- 79 total judges; appellate jurisdiction 1 Supreme Court- 9 justices (can have 6-10); original & appellate jurisdiction

4 Role of Judges & Backgrounds
Typical judges: white male lawyer from upper/upper-middle class Senatorial courtesy: Senate doesn’t confirm nominations for lower court positions when they are opposed by a senator of the president’s own party from the state the nominee is to serve Supreme Court nominations are harder if: Prez’s party is the minority in the Senate/ make a end of term Nominee would alter balance of Supreme Court Nominee’s competence or ethics are called into question

5 Supreme Court Policymaking
Stare decisis: an appealed case should usually be settled on the earlier decision 3 Elements of Judicial Implementation Interpreting population Implementing population Consumer population 4 Functions of Solicitor General 1.Decide whether to appeal cases lost by the gov’t in lower courts 2.Review briefs presented in gov’t appeals 3.Represent the gov’t in front of the Supreme Court 4.Submit briefs on behalf of litigants in cases where gov’t isn’t involved

6 Role of Courts Judicial review allows the Court to determine if an act of gov’t is in accordance with the Constitution & therefore legal Warren Court: liberal, in favor of racial equality; judicial activism; Brown v. BOE (1954), Miranda v. Arizona (1966) Burger Court: conservative, decisions in favor of personal liberty; judicial activism; Roe v. Wade (1971), U.S. v. Nixon (1974) Rehnquist Court: conservative, limited rights of previous liberal decisions; judicial restraint; Bush v. Gore (2000)

7 How Courts Operate in Democratic System
Justices are not elected & are very difficult to remove from office. The courts are also the branch most dominated by the elite. Judicial Restraint: judges play minimal role in shaping policy & leave it to the legislative Judicial Activism: judges make bold decisions & chart new Constitutional grounds & solve problems that gov’t cannot Political question: Supreme Court doctrine where they can avoid making some decisions on disputes between other branches Statutory construction: judicial interpretation of an act of Congress

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