American Government
Chapter 18 Notes
The Federal Court System
Section 1
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The National Judiciary
Creation of a National Judiciary
Framers of Constitution created a national
judiciary
A Dual Court System
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There are two separate court systems in the United
States
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National Judiciary that has nearly 120 courts across the
U.S.
Each of the 50 States have their own court systems,
which numbers in the thousands
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Most Cases heard in State Courts
Creation of a National Judiciary (Con’t)
Two Kinds of Federal Courts
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Constitution creates the Supreme Court and leaves
Congress to create the inferior courts
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lower federal courts, those beneath the Supreme Court
Congress has created two distinct types of federal
courts
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Constitutional Courts
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Courts of Appeals, District Courts, and U.S. Court of
International Trade
Special Courts
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Hear cases arising out of some of the expressed powers to
Congress
Federal Court Jurisdiction
The Constitutional Courts hear most of the
cases tried in the federal courts
Those courts have jurisdiction over most
federal cases
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The authority of a court to hear a case
Subject Matter of the Case
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Interpretation and application of Constitution,
federal statute or treaty
Admiralty law (On the seas)
Federal Court Jurisdiction (Con’t)
The Parties Involved in the Case
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United States or agencies
Ambassador
Interstate or foreign affairs
Ultimately though, if not heard by the federal
courts, it is the jurisdiction of the state’s
courts
Types of Jurisdiction
Exclusive and Concurrent Jurisdiction
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Exclusive Jurisdiction
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Concurrent Jurisdiction
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Cases that can be tried in either federal or state courts
Any diverse citizenship case over $75,000
Plaintiff
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Those cases can be heard only in the federal courts
the person who files a suit
Defendant
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the person whom the complaint is against
Types of Jurisdiction (Con’t)
Original and Appellate Jurisdiction
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Original Jurisdiction
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Appellate Jurisdiction
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a court in which a case is first heard
a court that hears a case on appeal from a lower court
has the right to uphold, overrule, or modify the decision
held by the lower court
Federal court system, district courts have only
jurisdiction and courts of appeals have only
appellate jurisdiction
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Supreme Court has both appellate and original
jurisdiction
Appointment of Judges
The President “Shall nominate, and by and
with the Advice and Consent of the Senate,
shall appoint… judges of the Supreme
Court.” Article II, Section II, Clause 2
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Including other federal judges who sit in the
nations 94 district courts
President tends to select judges on certain
criteria’s:
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One suggested by Senator from that state
Law specialist
Agrees with their individual political party
Appointment of Judges (Con’t)
Two types of federal judges
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Judicial activist
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believe that a judge should use his or her position to
promote desirable social ends
judicial restraint
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judges should defer to the actions of the executive and
legislative branches, except in cases where actions are
clearly unconstitutional
Terms and Pay of Judges
Judges of the constitutional courts are appointed for
life
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Until they resign, retire, or die in office
May be removed through impeachment
Special court judges are not appointed for life
Congress sets the salaries of all federal judges
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Can retire at age of 70
If served for at least 10 years, they get full salary for the
rest of their lives
Court Officers
Federal judges have little involvement in the
day-to-day administrative operations
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Usually done by clerks and reporters
Each of the 94 district courts have appointed
magistrates that take care of legal matters
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Warrants of arrest
Set bail in federal criminal cases
Etc.
Court Officers (Con’t)
Each federal judicial district has at least one
bankruptcy judge
President and Senate appoint a U.S. attorney
for each federal judicial district
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Bring federal charges against individuals
Also represent the U.S. in all civil actions brought
against the government in their districts
Also appoint Marshalls
Section 2
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The Inferior Courts
The District Courts
Federal Judicial Districts
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There are 89 federal judicial districts, and 4 other
courts in D.C. and provinces
Each State forms at least one judicial district
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At least two judges per district
The District Courts (Con’t)
District Court Jurisdiction
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Have original jurisdiction over most cases that are
heard in the federal courts
They hear a wide range of both criminal cases and
civil cases
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Criminal cases are ones in which a defendant is tried
for committing some action that Congress has declared
by law to be a federal crime
Civil cases involves some noncriminal matter such as a
dispute over the terms of a contract
The District Courts (Con’t)
They hear a wide range of both criminal cases
and civil cases (Con’t)
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Only federal courts that regularly use grand juries
to indict defendants
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Only a few are ever appealed to higher courts
The Courts of Appeal
Established by Congress in 1891 in order to
alleviate the docket of the Supreme Court
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Its list of cases to be heard
There are now currently 12 Judicial Courts
Appellate Court Judges
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There are currently 179 circuit judges
Supreme Court judge heads a court of appeals
The Courts of Appeal (Con’t)
Appellate Court Jurisdiction
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Only have appellate jurisdiction
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generally only from the district courts within their
circuits
Other Constitutional Courts
The Court of International Trade
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Originally created in 1890
Contains 9 judges, with one as chief judge
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hears civil cases arising out of tariff and other traderelated laws
Other Constitutional Courts (Con’t)
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
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Created in 1982 for the Federal Circuit to speed up
appeals in certain kinds of civil cases
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Has federal jurisdiction and deals with patents,
trademarks, copyrights, etc.
Section 3
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The Supreme Court
Judicial Review
Headed by the Chief Justice, and have the
final authority in any case involving the laws
of the United States
The power to decide the constitutionality of
an act of government, whether executive,
legislative, or judicial
Marbury V. Madison
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John Adams packed the courts with federalist
judges
Judicial Review (Con’t)
Marshall ruled that the Judiciary Act of 1789
was void due to conflict with Constitution
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Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land
All acts of Government are subordinate
Enforce provision of Constitution
The Effects of Marbury
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Laid foundations for the Judicial Branch
Supreme Court Jurisdiction
Has both original and appellate jurisdiction
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Most cases though come on appeal from lower
federal and high state courts
How Cases Reach The Court
Most cases appealed to the Supreme Court are not
actually heard because of multiple reasons
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Supreme Court agrees with lower courts decisions
Less than four justices want to hear the case
Most cases reach Supreme Court by writ of
certiorari
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An order by a higher court directing a lower court to send
up the record in a given case for review
How Cases Reach The Court (Con’t)
Rarely cases reach the Supreme Court by
certificate
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Lower courts unsure of decision and ask Supreme
Court to make the decision instead
How The Court Operates
Operates from the first Monday in October to
June or July
Oral Arguments
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Where the lawyers make their case to be heard by
the Court
Briefs
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Detailed statements support one side of a case,
which are filed with the court before oral
arguments begin
How The Court Operates (Con’t)
The Court In Conference
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Headed by Chief Justice, Justice discuss their point
of view on the case
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Discussed by seniority
1/3 of cases decisions are unanimous
Most decisions are split decisions
How The Court Operates (Con’t)
Opinions
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The court’s opinion on a case is called a majority
opinion
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Announces the court’s decision in a case and sets out
the reasoning on which it is based
The majority opinion stands as precedents
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Examples to be followed in similar cases as they arise in the
lower courts or reach the Supreme Court
How The Court Operates (Con’t)
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Opinions (Con’t)
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One of the justices who agree with the Court’s
decision may write a concurring opinion
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add or emphasize a point that was not made in the
majority opinion
One or more dissenting opinions are often written
by those justices who do not agree with the court’s
majority decision
Section 4
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The Special Courts
The Court of Federal Claims
No one can sue the United States unless they
have gone through the Court of Federal
Claims
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Composed of 16 judges
If U.S. found in guilt, the individual can not be
paid until Congress appropriates the money
Can be appealed to the Court of Appeals for
the Federal Circuit
The Territorial Courts
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Courts that work in Virgin Islands, Guam and
the Northern Marianas
The District of Columbia Courts
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Constitution allows there to be courts setup in
the District of Columbia
The Court of Appeals for the Armed
Forces
Congress has created a system of military courts for
each branch of the nation’s armed forces
Court Martial
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Serve the special disciplinary needs of the armed forces
and are not part of the federal court system
All court personnel are military personnel
A court that has a civilian tribunal to deal with
serious court-martial convictions
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A court operating as part of the judicial branch, that is
appointed by the President and Senate
Military Tribunals
Used to try terrorist individuals captured throughout
the world
A special system of justice designed to meet the
needs of national security and the continuing threat
posed by alien terrorists here and abroad
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President Obama has called for the closure of these
military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay detention center
Done multiple times throughout U.S. history
The Court of Appeals for Veterans
Claims
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Has power to hear appeals from the decisions
of an administrative agency in the Department
of Veterans Affairs
The United States Tax Court
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Hears cases involving disputes over the
application of the tax laws
Most cases generated by the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS)
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Chapter 18 PPT - Ash Grove R