Chapter 10:
The Judicial Branch
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Chapter Links
Section 1
“The Role of the Federal Courts”
Section 2
“The Organization of the Federal Courts”
Section 3
“The Supreme Court”
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Section 1
“The Role of the Federal Courts”
Section Outline:
I.
Laws and Courts
II.
What Courts Do
III.
State Courts and Federal Courts
Main Idea:
Our legal system provides a framework for
resolving conflicts and protecting the rights of
citizens. Federal and state courts hear criminal
and civil cases. The Supreme Court hears a
handful of those cases on appeal.
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Key Terms:
•Plaintiff
•Defendant
•Prosecution
•Precedent
•Original Jurisdiction
•Appeal
•Appellate Jurisdiction
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Laws and Courts
• Judicial Branch Components
–The Supreme Court and more than
100 other federal courts.
• Disputes involving laws are resolved
in the legal system
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What Courts Do
• The Parties in a Conflict:
– Plaintiff: Individual or group bringing a complaint
against another party.
– Defendant: The party who answers the complaint
and defends against it.
– Prosecution: A government body that bring a
criminal charge against a defendant who is accused
of breaking one of its laws.
– Defense: The legal representation for the defendant
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What Courts Do (cont.)
• Members of the Court
– Judge
– Jury
• Interpreting the Law
– Precedent
• Guideline for how all similar cases should be decided in
the future.
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State Courts and Federal Courts
• Jurisdiction
– Original Jurisdiction
• The authority to hear a case first
– Appeal
• Asking a higher court review the decision and determine
if justice was done.
– Appellate Jurisdiction
• The authority to hear an appeal
• Federal Cases
– Those involving federal laws & appeals from State Cases.
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Section 2
“The Organization of the Federal Courts”
Section Outline:
I.
The District Courts
III. The Supreme Court
II.
The Courts of Appeals
IV. Federal Court Judges
Main Idea:
Our federal court system is made
up of district courts, courts of
appeals, the Supreme Court, and a
few specialized courts.
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Key Terms:
•Courts of Appeals
•Circuit Courts
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The District Courts
• The “workhorse” of the federal court
system
– 94 District Courts
– 300,00 cases per year
– 80 percent of federal cases
– Between 1 and 28 judges may serve a
district court
– The trials have witnesses and juries
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The Courts of Appeals
• Court of Appeals
– This court handles the appeals from the federal districts
– Often called Circuit Courts
– There are twelve regular Circuit Courts, with a thirteenth
one serving special federal courts and agencies of the
executive branch.
• Trials
– Three Judges who affirm or reverse the lower court’s
decision.
– No jury, no witnesses
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The Supreme Court
• Highest Court in the Federal system
– Purpose: to serve as the final court of appeals for
both the state and federal court systems.
• Other Special Federal Courts
–
–
–
–
Court of Claims
Court of Customs
Court of Patent Appeals
Tax Court
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Federal Court Judges
• Appointment
– Federal judges are appointed by the
President and approved by the Senate
– They serve life terms; can only be removed
by impeachment or resignation.
– Only nine judges are appointed to the
Supreme Court
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Section 3
“The Supreme Court”
Section Outline:
IV.
Influences on Judicial Decision
Making
I.
Judicial Review
V.
A Changing Court
II.
The Justices
VI.
III.
The Work of the
Supreme Court
The Court and Other Branches of
Government
Main Idea:
The Supreme Court is the highest court in
the United States. It has the final about
what the Constitution means. The Supreme
Court establishes the longest lasting
precedents in our legal system.
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Key Terms:
•Judicial Review
•Opinion
•Judicial Activism
•Judicial Restraint
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Judicial Review
• Judicial Review
– The power to overturn any law that the Court
decides is in conflict with the Constitution.
• Marbury v. Madison, 1803
– Overturned the Judiciary Act of 1789
– Established the precedent that the Supreme Court
has Judicial Review
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The Justices
• Qualifications
– None listed in the Constitution
– The President selects justices from the most
respected and qualified judges, lawyers, and legal
scholars in the country.
– There has been 108 Justices; All but 4 of them
have been white men.
– Exceptions: Thurgood Marshal, Clarence Thomas,
Sandra Day O’Connor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
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The Work of the Supreme Court
• Selecting Cases
– More than 8,000 requests are made per year, but only
about 100 cases are heard
• Hearing Arguments
– Attorneys submit briefs, and make oral arguments
before the court
• Making a Decision
– The Justices vote and usually submit and opinion or
written statement explaining the reasons for the
decision.
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Influences on Judicial Decision Making
• Considerations:
– Laws
– The Constitution
– Precedents
• Duties
– Be fair and impartial
– Respect precedent
– Try to determine the intent of the Framers
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A Changing Court
• Judicial Activism
– An effort by judges to take an active role in
policymaking by overturning laws relatively often.
• Judicial Restraint
– An effort by judges to avoid overturning laws and
to leave policymaking up to the other two branches
of the government.
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The Court and Other Branches of Government
• The President’s Power
– Appointment of judges
• The Power of Congress
– Confirmation of judges
• Citizen Participation
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