Judicial Branch

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Judicial Branch

State and Federal Court Systems•Standard: 12.4.5Discuss Article III of the Constitution as itrelates to judicial power, including the length ofterms of judges and the jurisdiction of theSupreme Court.


Federal Court System•Original Jurisdiction: Lowestcourt’s authority over an issue•Appellate jurisdiction:Authority over appeals fromlower courts


The Framers created the Supreme Court as thehead of the federal judiciary, and gave Congressthe power to create lower federal courts.Framers realized that some kind of nationalcourts would be needed, at least to resolvedisputes involving federal lawsFramers thought that appointing the judgesby this method rather than electing themwould remove them from the pressures ofpolitical influenceThe best way to make sure that judges would not beinfluenced by politics was to have them nominatedby the president. The president’s nomination wouldneed to be ratified by the Senate.The judges would keep their positions“during good behavior.” This meant thatthey could not be removed from theirpositions unless they were impeachedand convicted of “treason, bribery, orother high crimes and misdemeanors.”“good behavior” basically means for lifeThis function could be left to state courts,but then the federal laws might be enforceddifferently from state to stateFramers needed a system fordeciding cases involving its lawsJudges should be independent of politics so thatthey can use their best judgment to decide casesand not be influenced by political pressuresIndependent judiciaryEstablished powers of the JudiciaryTo decide conflictsbetween state governmentsArticle IIIJudicial BranchTo decide conflicts that involvedthe national governmentTo do so would give the judiciary theauthority to declare acts of these branches ofthe national government unconstitutionalThis would mean giving one branch thepower to ensure that the other branches didnot exceed the limitations placed on them bythe ConstitutionJudicial Review was not decided by the FramersThe power todeclare thatlegislative acts hadviolated their stateconstitution alreadyhad been exercisedby the courts inseveral statesSome Framerssimply assumed thatthe judiciary wouldhave the power torule on theconstitutionality oflaws made byCongressThe power of the Supreme Court todeclare acts of Congress unconstitutionalwas clearly established by the SupremeCourt itself in 1803’s court caseMarbury v. MadisonThe general powers of the judiciary is atthe beginning of Article III: The“judicial power of the United States,shall be vested in one supreme court…”


State and Federal Court Systems


State Court StructureState Supreme CourtDeath Penalty appeals,Disciplinary cases involvingjudges or lawyersState Appeals CourtAppeal their trial court decisionsSuperior Courts58 Trial Courts `(1 in each county)All criminal cases, All civil cases, appeals of smallclaims and other civil cases worth $25,000 or less,Appeals of misdemeanor cases


State Court can consider cases where:• Divorce and child custody• Probate and inheritance• Real estate• Juvenile matters• Criminal charges• Contract disputes• Traffic violations• Personal injury


Federal Court StructureSupreme Court(Court of last resort;decides constitutionalissues)Federal Appeals Court(Court of appellatejurisdiction)Federal District Court(Court of original ` jurisdiction)Specialty Courts: US Claims Court, BankruptcyCourt, Tax Court (Courts of original jurisdiction)


Federal Court can only consider cases where:• There is a real legal problem. They cannot makedecisions about hypothetical cases•The plaintiff was in some way legally harmed by thedefendant•The law the two parties are arguing about was meantto deal with the problem they are having•The court legally has the power to solve the problem•The issue the two parties are arguing about is still aproblem that matters.


State and Federal Court Systems


Federal Court System•The Supreme Court selects the cases it wishes to hear.•In only rare instances does the Supreme Courthave original jurisdiction•Cases involving two or more states•Cases involving the U.S. and a stategovernment or foreign ambassadors ordiplomats.•Most cases before the Supreme Court involve appealsfrom lower courts or cases the justices believe involvesignificant constitutional issues.


Why does the U.S. need federal courts?•Federal Courts are specified in the Constitution•They deal with issues whose nature is beyond thestate and local level and are of a national concernor interest.


Why does the U.S. need appellate courts?•Appellate Courts serve as places where courtdecisions in question may be challenged.


Why does the U.S. need A Supreme Court?•The Supreme Court serves as the interpreter ofthe Constitution•It is the court of last resort•Needed to settle disputes between states or onesin which foreign governments or citizens may beinvolved


Where Would TheCase Go????Which court would eachscenario likely fall under?


Employees of Chester Carpet Company Suedtheir employer for failing to make pensioncontributions as required by the FederalEmployee Retirement Income Security Act


Employees of Chester Carpet Company Suedtheir employer for failing to make pensioncontributions as required by the FederalEmployee Retirement Income Security ActFederal District Court because itrelates to federal law


Thomas was convicted in a federal districtcourt for kidnapping a twenty-three year oldwoman. He decided to appeal the court ruling


Thomas was convicted in a federal districtcourt for kidnapping a twenty-three year oldwoman. He decided to appeal the court rulingU.S. Appeals Court because that isthe next step up the pyramid fromFederal District Court


Joe was arrested for burglary. He was tried andconvicted in a municipal court but appealed hiscase based upon a question of the validity ofeyewitness accounts.


Joe was arrested for burglary. He was tried andconvicted in a municipal court but appealed hiscase based upon a question of the validity ofeyewitness accounts.State Appeals Court because theissue was not a federal case initially


The state appeals court refused to overturn aconviction of Alex for murder. He decided toappeal to a higher court.


The state appeals court refused to overturn aconviction of Alex for murder. He decided toappeal to a higher court.State Supreme Court would be thenext higher authority


Frances is being deported for lack of a propervisa. She sues the Department of Immigration.


Frances is being deported for lack of a propervisa. She sues the Department of Immigration.Federal District Court because itinvolves a federal issue


Frederick is suing his former employer for backpay.


Frederick is suing his former employer for backpay.State court because no federal issue isinvolved


Mr. Smith believes he was not hired by a fastfood restaurant because of his age. He sues therestaurant


Mr. Smith believes he was not hired by a fastfood restaurant because of his age. He sues therestaurantFederal District court because it doesinvolve a federal issue


Joe Running-Eagle represents a tribe ofAmerican Indians who were denied mineralrights for their reservation, as provided in anagreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.He sues for compensation in the name of thetribe


Joe Running-Eagle represents a tribe ofAmerican Indians who were denied mineralrights for their reservation, as provided in anagreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.He sues for compensation in the name of thetribeEither U.S. Federal District Court orU.S. Court of Claims depending uponthe wishes of the plaintiffs lawyer


Harriet felt that she was discriminated againston an application for a federal civil service test.She sued the U.S. Civil Service Commission ina federal district court but lost her case. Afterlosing a second time in the federal appealscourt, she has decided to appeal again.


John and his family believe they were servedtainted food at a nearby restaurant. They suethe owner of the restaurant.


John and his family believe they were servedtainted food at a nearby restaurant. They suethe owner of the restaurant.Municipal or state courts


The Justice Department wished to bring suitagainst several supermarket chains, with storesin many different states, for conspiracy to fixprices of grocery and meat products.


The Justice Department wished to bring suitagainst several supermarket chains, with storesin many different states, for conspiracy to fixprices of grocery and meat products.Federal District Court because of thestatus of the Justice department.


Arnold sued several manufacturers of asbestosbecause he claimed he had contractedasbestiosis as a result of direct exposure to theirproducts.


Arnold sued several manufacturers of asbestosbecause he claimed he had contractedasbestiosis as a result of direct exposure to theirproducts.Federal District Court because of thelikely hood of involving federallegislation and individuals of severalstates.


Bernice wishes to challenge the InternalRevenue Service’s disallowance of a taxdeduction she considers legitimate.


Bernice wishes to challenge the InternalRevenue Service’s disallowance of a taxdeduction she considers legitimate.If she chooses to go to court beforepaying, she would likely go to TaxCourt; an alternative would be to paythe amount in dispute and then suefor a refund in U.S. Court of Claimsor a Federal District Court


The State of California initiated a class actionsuit against a leading woolen manufacturer,charging the company with a conspiracy to fixprices of certain blankets and items of clothing


The State of California initiated a class actionsuit against a leading woolen manufacturer,charging the company with a conspiracy to fixprices of certain blankets and items of clothingThis is a federal case because of thenature of the issue and would go to aFederal District court.


A group of farmers are seeking damagesbecause they claim that the Army Corps ofEngineers built structures in rivers that causedfloods on their property which resulted in areduced crop harvest and loss of income.


A group of farmers are seeking damagesbecause they claim that the Army Corps ofEngineers built structures in rivers that causedfloods on their property which resulted in areduced crop harvest and loss of income.The farmers would probably seekrelief in the U.S. Court of Claims

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