Judicial Branch Notes (Sec. 1-3) Key

SECTION I - Lesson Essential Question: In what ways is the US a nation of laws?
What article in the Constitution established a Supreme Court? Article III of the US Constitution
- Courts of lower authority
- All federal courts below the Supreme Court are inferior courts
What did the Judiciary Act of 1789 create?
- Gave Congress the power to create:
* Federal District Courts
* Federal Appeals Courts
Fill in the hierarchy of courts below:
Level 1: Supreme Court
Level 2: Appeals Court
Level 3:
District Courts
Define the following:
a. Criminal Cases
- Cases in which juries decide whether people have committed crimes
- mostly state courts
Civil Cases
- Two sides disagree over some issue
- Not necessarily a breaking of the law
- The complaint the first person makes to the court in a civil case
- Usually looking for monetary compensation for some type of loss
Jurisdiction - Authority to hear and decide a case
1) Exclusive Jurisdiction - Only federal courts may hear and decide cases
2) Concurrent Jurisdiction - A case can be heard in state or federal court
List five areas that fall into federal court jurisdiction:
(1) Involving the Constitution
(4) Federal, admiralty, or maritime law
(2) Foreign Governments
(5) Disputes bet. states or citizens of different countries
(3) US gov’t representatives in foreign countries
SECTION II (Inferior Courts) - Lesson Essential Question:
1. What courts make up the lowest level of the federal district court system?
- What is the place of law in the American constitutional system?
2. Why are district courts said to have original jurisdiction?
- They have the authority to hear cases for the first time
3. How do district courts get their name?
- Each has jurisdiction or authority over a specific geographic area (district)
4. How many district courts does each state have?
- At least one but can be as many as four, which is dependent on the size and population of the state
5. What percentage of the work of federal courts is done by district courts? About 90% (about 300,000 cases yearly)
6. List examples of the types of cases that can be tried in district courts:
- Criminal Case - mail fraud, bank robbery, income tax evasion, treason
- Civil Case - labor relations, public lands, copyright and patent laws, civil rights
7. How many judges do district courts have? At least two, depending on caseload
8. How do district court judges receive their position? President appoints and Senate approves
a. What is the average salary of a district court judge? $136,700
b. What is the length of their term? They are appointed for life, but can be removed if they commit a serious crime
9. Describe the responsibilities of each of the following:
a. Magistrate - Issues court orders and hears preliminary evidence to determine whether a case should be brought to trial
b. United States Attorney – Government’s lawyer; tries to prove a suspect has committed a crime
c. Marshall – Arrests suspects, delivers defendants to court, and serves people with subpoenas
d. How are each of these positions decided? They are appointed by the President with the Senate’s approval
10. Define Subpoena - A court order requiring someone to appear in court
11. What courts are above the district courts in the federal court system? Courts of Appeals
12. What is Appellate Jurisdiction?
- Hear cases that come to them on appeal from lower district courts
- Hear cases from federal regulatory agencies
13. How many US Courts of Appeals are there? 12
14. How is jurisdiction determined for courts of appeals? Receives cases from the district courts within its own circuit
15. If a person appeals a case that originated in the Federal District Court in Pennsylvania, what (circuit) Court of Appeals
would it go to?
- The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
16. How many judges do appeals courts have? It ranges from 6-27, which is dependent on their caseload
a. How do they receive their position? They are appointed for life by the President, which is approved by the Senate
b. What are their salaries? $145,000
17. What do judges in an appeals court rule on?
- They rule on whether the defendants’ rights have been protected and whether they received a fair trial
18. List some other special Federal courts:
1. US Tax Court – Federal tax laws
2. US Court of Federal Claims – Sue the government for money
3. US Court of Military Appeals – Appeals of court-martial
4. US Court of International Trade – Disputes in tariff or trade laws
SECTION III - Lesson Essential Question: What is the Supreme Court’s role in the American judicial system?
1. What is the highest court of the land? Supreme Court
2. What original jurisdiction does the Supreme Court have?
- Diplomats from foreign countries
- When the dispute involves a state or between states
3. Define the term JUDICIAL REVIEW
- Court can review laws or decisions made by the legislature
- Established by Marbury vs Madison Case
4. How many members make up the Supreme Court? 9 (1 chief justice and 8 associate justices)
a. Salaries:
Associate Justice: $194,200
Chief Justice: $202,900
5. What are the backgrounds of most Supreme Court justices?
- All have been lawyers
- Most have been judges or law professors
- Some public officials (Taft - President)
6. How do Supreme Court justices get their position? President appoints and Senate confirms
7. Who currently serves on the Supreme Court?
Chief Justice John Roberts
Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy
Associate Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg
Associate Justice Samuel Alito
Associate Justice Elena Kagan
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas
Associate Justice Stephen Breyer
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor
8. How many judges must vote in favor for a case to be heard? 4
9. What types of cases does the Supreme Court usually hear? Cases that involve:
1. a specific Constitutional question (Bill of Rights)
2. real people and real events
3. the entire country
10. Define WRIT OF CERTIORARI - Lower court sends its records to the Supreme Court for review
11. What type of vote must be made on a case to determine the outcome? Majority vote wins
How many judges must be present to hear a case? 6
What happens in the event of a tie? The lower court decision is upheld
12. Define the following terms.
a. Majority Opinion – A statement explaining the majority view in a case in which the justices are divided
Concurring Opinion – An opinion written by a justice who supports the majority opinion
Dissenting Opinion – The written statement of a judge who disagrees with the majority decision