Structure cont. District Courts Original Jurisdiction Federal crimes Civil suits under federal law and across state lines Supervise bankruptcy and naturalization Review some federal agencies Admiralty and maritime law cases
Structure cont. Courts of Appeal [Circuit Courts] Appellate Jurisdiction Hold no trials and hear no testimony. Focus on errors of procedure & law
Head of the Judicial Branch Justices: The Judges who sit on the Supreme Court Bench Size of the Court is determined by the Congress Constitution doesn’t specify Number has been set at 9 since 1869 Checks/Balances: Justices are appointed by the President Approved by Senate Appointed for Life can be impeached.
Selection Process… The Politics of Judicial Selection for the Supreme Court: President relies on attorney general and DOJ to screen candidates. 1 out of 5 nominees will not make it. Presidents with minority party support in the Senate will have more trouble. Chief Justice can be chosen from a sitting justice, or a new member.
The Supreme Court The Court’s Term: October-June Diversifying the Court: 1967: First African American appointed. Thurgood Marshall 1981: First woman appointed. Sandra Day O’Connor 1993: Second woman appointed. Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
Sandra Day O’Connor Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thurgood Marshall
The Supreme Court Judicial Review “Courts have the power to determine whether a law or presidential action is Constitutional” Supreme Court holds ultimate authority! Constitution doesn’t specify this Created out of Supreme Court Decision. Marbury v. Madison (1803) John Marshall: Chief Justice from 1801-1835
The Supreme Court Influence of John Marshall Idea of Judicial Review Marbury v. Madison Involved William Marbury, who’d been promised appt. as Justice of the Peace by President Adams Appointment withheld by Secretary of State James Madison under orders from President Jefferson. Marbury sued for his appointment. Significance: established the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review
The Supreme Court Original & Appellate Jurisdiction Most cases are appellate. Deal with interpretation of civil liberties or public policy issue. Origninal Jurisdiction: Involving diplomatic representative of another country Involving disputes btw states Involving a State and the Federal government Court decides what cases it will hear. Placed on the Docket: the calendar/schedule for the Court Cases usually involve issues of significant public interest. 4 judges have to want to hear the case If it refuses, then original decision stays in effect Remand: Supreme Court can order a case to a lower court fo a new trial
The Supreme Court Preparing for the Supreme Court Lawyers for each side prepare a brief. Lawyers then present case to the Court. Question & Answer Get only 30 minutes Court then issues it’s opinion. Majority Opinion Consenting Opinion Dissenting Opinion 2
Judicial Opinion Justices discuss the case. Writing the Opinion: Majority Opinion: statement of legal reasoning behind a judicial decision) on the case. Concurring Opinion: what a Justice writes when they agree with the ruling but for different legal reasons Dissenting Opinion: a written explanation as to why a Justice disagreed with the decision of the Court
What goes into deciding a case? Factors that affect a Court’s Decision. Stare Decisis: to let the previous decision stand unchanged. Precedent: How similar past cases were decided. Original Intent: The idea that the Constitution should be viewed according to the original intent of the framers.
Overall… The Supreme Court serves as the “interpreter” of laws in our government. The Courts and Democracy Courts are not very democratic Not elected Difficult to remove The courts do reflect popular majorities Groups are likely to use the courts when other methods fail – promoting pluralism There are still conflicting rulings leading to deadlock and inconsistency
Overall… The Scope of Judicial Power Judicial Restraint: judges should play a minimal policymaking role leave the policies to the legislative branch. Rehnquist Court Judicial Activism: judges should make bold policy decisions and even charting new constitutional ground. Create public policy through decision. Warren & Burger Court Statutory Construction: the judicial interpretation of an act of Congress. Gun Free School Zone Act of 1990 Flag Protection Act of 1989