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The Court System. The US Federal Court System The Current Supreme Court The court has final authority on cases involving the constitution, acts of Congress,

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Presentation on theme: "The Court System. The US Federal Court System The Current Supreme Court The court has final authority on cases involving the constitution, acts of Congress,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Court System

2 The US Federal Court System

3 The Current Supreme Court The court has final authority on cases involving the constitution, acts of Congress, and treaties. Eight associate justices and one chief justice make up the supreme court. The president appoints Supreme Court justices, with Senate approval. The president's decision may be influenced by the Justice Department, American Bar Association, interest groups, and other Supreme Court justices.

4 Background of the Supreme Court 1789 -The Judiciary Act of 1789 established a 3-level structure of federal court system  Supreme Court  Court of Appeals  District Courts --First Chief Justice John Jay

5 Background of the Supreme Court 1800--John Marshall was appointed Chief Justice (1801- 1835) Marbury v. Madison established Judicial Review Marshall made the Supreme Court a powerful force in government The court could now influence Congress and the President

6 The Supreme Court Qualifications  There are no Constitutional requirements or qualifications  No professional requirements

7 The Supreme Court Size  The Constitution does not set a size for the Supreme Court  The number is set by Congress  The Judiciary Act set the number at 6  we have 9 Supreme Court Justices  Justices can be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors

8 The Supreme Court Terms  Term begins on the first Monday in October  Justices hear cases throughout the year until summer recess (last week in June)  Justices serve on the bench for life

9 The Supreme Court Appointments  Justices and the Chief Justices are appointed by the President  and approved by the Senate  because they serve long terms they can influence national policy for years after the president leaves

10 The Supreme Court at Work Purpose of the Court  The Supreme Court is an appeals court reviewing cases that have been tried and appealed in lower courts  They have Original Jurisdiction in  Diplomatic representatives  Disputes between states  Disputes between states and the federal government

11 The Supreme Court at Work How does a case get through the Courts 1. File Briefs-arguments by both sides 2. Oral Arguments-approximately 30min.- justices may interrupt and ask questions 3. Conference-justices meet in private Conference twice a week to discuss cases 4. Prepare opinions-preparing opinions 1. Majority opinion-views of the majority 2. Concurring opinion-agree with the outcome, but for different reasons 3. Dissenting opinion -disagrees with the majority **They rarely reverse other decisions because of stare decisis -upholding precedents--legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions. 5. Decision is announced

12 The Lower Courts of the Federal System Role of the Courts  Resolving disputes- only people who suffer injury can bring suit  Setting precedents- the courts rule on specific cases, but their decisions can be much broader and have far-reaching consequences  Interpreting the law- strict v. loose  strict constructionist- laws and the Const. should be strictly interpreted  loose constructionist- Const. and other laws must be interpreted in light of current political and social conditions

13 The Lower Courts of the Federal System Lower Court Organization  Congress is given the power to set up a system of federal courts under the Judiciary Act of 1789  District Courts  Trial courts of the federal system  Handle disputes based on facts  Courts of Appeals  Handles appeals from US district courts  There are 13 US. Court of Appeals each handle an area called a circuit  They do not review the facts, only issues of law  Decisions are made based on written information; they do not hold separate trials

14 The Lower Courts of the Federal System Federal judges  Federal judges serve for life  Federal judges are appointed by president and approved by Senate  Most appointments are made to district courts because there are so many

15 The Adversarial System Courts settle civil disputes between private parties, a private party and the government, or the United States and a state or local government. Each side presents its position. The court applies the law and decides in favor of one or the other.

16 Prosecuting the accused Courts also hold criminal trials for people accused of crimes. Witnesses present evidence and a jury or a judge delivers a verdict of guilt or innocence.

17 Rights of the Accused All accused people have the right to a public trial and a lawyer. If they cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint and pay for one. (Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963) Accused people are considered innocent until proven guilty. They may ask for a review of their case by a higher court if they think the court has made a mistake. This review is called an appeal.

18 The American Legal System The goal of the legal system is equal justice under the law. This goal is difficult to achieve. Why is the goal of equal justice under the law difficult to achieve?

19 U.S. District Courts District courts are the federal courts where trials are held and lawsuits are begun. All states have at least one. For all federal cases, district courts have original jurisdiction, the authority to hear the case for the first time. District courts hear both civil and criminal cases. They are the only federal courts that involve witnesses and juries.

20 U.S. Courts of Appeals People who lose in a district court often appeal to the next highest level—a U.S. court of appeals. Appeals courts review decisions made in lower district courts. This is appellate jurisdiction—the authority to hear a case appealed from a lower court.

21 The US Circuit Court of Appeals Each of the 12 U.S. courts of appeals covers a particular geographic area called a circuit. A thirteenth appeals court, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, has nationwide jurisdiction. Appeals courts do not hold trials. Instead, a panel of judges reviews the case records and listens to arguments from lawyers on both sides. The judges may decide in one of three ways: uphold (AGREE) the original decision, reverse (disagree) the decision, or remand the case— send it back to the lower court to be tried again.

22 The Supreme Court Justices The main job of the nation's top court is to decide whether laws are allowable under the Constitution. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction only in cases involving foreign diplomats or a state. All other cases come to the Court on appeal. The Court chooses the cases it hears through the writ of Certiorari- an order by a higher court directing a lower court, tribunal, or public authority to send the record in a given case for review. The Court chooses the cases it hears. In cases the Court refuses to hear, the decision of the lower court stands.

23 Limits on the Courts' Power The Court depends on the executive branch and state and local officials to enforce its decisions. Usually they do. Congress can get around a Court ruling by passing a new law, changing a law ruled unconstitutional, or amending the Constitution. The president's power to appoint justices and Congress's power to approve appointments and to impeach and remove justices serve to check the power of the Court. The Court cannot decide that a law is unconstitutional unless the law has been challenged in a lower court and the case comes to it on appeal. The Court accepts only cases that involve a federal question. It usually stays out of political questions. It never considers guilt or innocence.

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