The Federal Courts 15

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1 The Federal Courts 15

2 Structure of the Judiciary Article III Institutional courts and processes Established to handle laws in system of government U.S. Supreme Court Judicial power of U. S.

3 History - Judicial Process Courts Monarchs / Sovereign American courts - Judge violations of law - Disputes between citizens Rule on rights of citizens Extent of governmental power Basis for authority of judges - Constitution and laws

4 Founders and Federal Judiciary Federalists least dangerous branch Judicial Power weak compared to branches: 1. Lacks force can t enforce decisions 2. Insulated from political forces - judiciary lacks will. 3. Judges & justices have life terms - Judicial Independence ( during good behavior ) 4. Nonelected officials Justices can protect minority rights and interests.

5 Definitions - Activism vs. Restraint Judicial philosophies Judicial Restraint Courts should remain close to the actual wording of Constitution and other laws Consider original intent of lawmakers Judicial Activism Courts should see beyond text of Constitution or statute Consider broader societal implications

6 Criminal Law Judicial Process Individual charged with violating a statute (law) Public health, safety, morals, or welfare. Plaintiff - party brings charges (State or Fed Govt.) Defendant - individual or organization charged with complaint Most criminal cases start / heard in State / Local courts.

7 Participants in the Judicial System 15.1 Litigants Actual disputes, no hypothetical cases Standing Class action suits Justiciable disputes Attorneys Large profession; 1 million attorneys Not only for the rich anymore Groups Amicus curiae briefs

8 Civil Law Judicial Process Disputes between individuals or between individuals and government No criminal violation Award monetary damages Two most common cases Contracts - Violating an agreement Torts - Charges injuries due to negligence or malfeasance

9 Judicial Processes Deciding cases - precedents or prior decisions Precedents applied under doctrine of stare decisis let the decision stand.

10 Structure of the Federal Judiciary Acts of Congress Judiciary Act of 1789 Judiciary Act of Constitution Nothing on size of SC 9 Supreme Court justices 8 Associate justices and Chief justice. Nominated by president Confirmed by Senate Political Decision?

11 Structure of the Federal Judicial System 15.2 District Courts Courts of Appeals Supreme Court

12 District Courts 15.2 Organization and jurisdiction 91, at least one in each state 2-28 judges per court; 675 in total Original jurisdiction only Hold trials and impanel juries One judge, occasionally 3 2% of criminal cases; 1% of civil cases 309,000 cases in 2010 Federal magistrates

13 Courts of Appeals 15.2 Review district court decisions 75% of 55,000 cases come from district courts Review and enforce IRC orders 12 circuits, serving at least 2 states

14 FIGURE 15.2: The federal judicial circuits 15.2

15

16 Types of Courts 2 Types - Federal & state Nearly 99% of all court cases in U. S. Start in state / local courts Most cases - Criminal cases Murder, robbery, fraud, theft, and assault Civil cases - money Litigation starts in state where activity took place Many cases decided before trial Criminal / Civil cases - plea bargain.

17 Federal Jurisdiction Federal courts when it involves Federal laws Treaties with other nations U.S. Constitution. Civil cases Citizens of more than one state and more than $70,000 at stake Either federal or state courts Depends on preference of plaintiff. Military - own court system Uniform Code of Military Justice.

18

19 10% of cases - Accepted by higher courts for appeals. 12 judicial circuits - each with U.S. Court of Appeals. Decisions made by U.S. Court of Appeals - Can be appealed to the SC or could be final decision

20 Federal Jurisdiction Appeals based on violations of due process Writ of Habeas Corpus Used to release prisoners based on violations of their legal rights. Caseload in Federal Court - 350,000 a year. 8,500 to 9,500 cases appealed (filed) to Supreme Court. Most are dismissed 84 to 91 cases given full review by Supreme Court.

21 Courts of Appeals judges; 179 total 3 judges per case; en banc occasionally Errors of procedure and law Set precedent

22 Supreme Court 15.2 Unique responsibilities Resolving conflicts among states Maintaining national supremacy in law Ensuring uniformity in interpretation Composition 8 associate justices; 1 chief justice Controls its docket 80 cases/year Appeals must involve a substantial federal question

23 TABLE 15.1: Sources of full opinions in the Supreme Court,

24 Lower Courts 15.3 Senatorial courtesy DoJ and FBI background checks Politics of judicial selection Interest groups increasingly active Partisan divide growing Supreme Court Selection is a bigger deal.

25 Judicial Appointees Federal judges - appointed by president Prominent members of legal profession Senators from nominee s state must indicate they support them Senatorial Courtesy. Nominee considered by Senate Judiciary Committee Confirmed by majority vote of full Senate. Filibuster Used by Senator to prevent a vote Stopping the appointment.

26 THE ROBERTS COURT ** (2006) AS of Sept 2005

27 Roberts Court as of September 29 th 2009!

28 Roberts Court as of October 4 th, 2010!

29 TABLE 15.3: Supreme Court justices,

30 Requirements to Serve NONE!!!! Constitution sets no age limit or residency requirement for someone to be appointed as a judge in federal court. (There are unspoken requirements, however )

31 Powers and Authority Original Jurisdiction- cases where the Supreme court is the first to hear them (cases that involve ambassadors, elected officials, etc. Gore v. Bush 2000) Appellate Jurisdiction- cases heard on appeal (makes up the vast majority of cases heard by the court)

32 Daily operation of the court.. M, T, W, starting in October, the court is in session Judges receive countless appeals per year (8,000-10,000) They decide how many of those will be heard

33 Accepting Cases 15.5 First step in process Justices meet in conference once a week Rule of four Writ of certiorari Type of cases selected Civil liberties Discrepancies in interpretation of a law Solicitor general s request

34 Con t Conference to decide if the case should be heard Did lower courts disagree? Did the lower Court contradict existing SC case law? Does the issue have far reaching implications Court now hears cases a year

35 FIGURE 15.4: Obtaining space on the Supreme Court s docket 15.5

36

37 Rules of Access Courts apply certain criteria - 3 major categories Case or Controversy Must be actual controversy, not hypothetical. Standing Parties must show they have substantial stake in outcome of case. Mootness Requirement that disqualifies cases bought too late; relevant facts have changed or resolved in other way.

38 Accept cases involving Supreme Court Conflicting decisions of federal circuit courts Preferences or priorities of justices Most cases reach SC through writ of certiorari Order lower court to deliver records of particular case for review For certiorari to be granted, agreement must be reached by four justices (Rule of 4) Rule 10 satisfied Rule 10 - special or compelling reasons exists.

39 Supreme Court Procedures Person with greatest immediate influence over work of Supreme Court - Solicitor General 3 rd in Justice Department behind Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General. Government lawyer - all cases before appellate courts. Can even enter a case by filing a amicus curiae ( friend of the court ) brief. Vital interest in the outcome of the case.

40 Process of Decision Making 15.5 Oral arguments Briefs Amicus curiae briefs 30 minutes for each side Opinion writing Chief justice assigns opinion, if in majority Explain legal reasoning Concurring opinion Dissenting opinion

41 Litigants before SC prepare written briefs and make oral arguments before the justices. Must present their cases within 30 minutes. Outside groups - amicus curiae After briefs and arguments, justices meet in conference to discuss case and vote. Once voted, justices write opinions explaining their legal reasoning.

42 Most cases, Supreme Court issues a majority opinion Disagree with judgment of majority, often offer a dissenting opinion. Rare instances, no majority may emerge and justices write a plurality opinion. Agree with ultimate conclusion but for different reasons, might write a concurring opinion.

43 Basis of Decisions 15.5 Principle of stare decisis Respect for precedent Overturning precedent

44 Basis of Decisions 15.5 Why do justices disagree? Ambiguity and vagueness Judicial philosophy Originalism

45 Courts and Public Policy: 15.6 A Historical Review John Marshall and the Growth of Judicial Review The Nine Old Men The Warren Court The Burger Court The Rehnquist and Roberts Courts

46 John Marshall and the Growth of 15.6 Judicial Review Marbury v. Madison (1803) Judicial review Court has power to interpret Constitution

47 The Nine Old Men 15.6 Controversy over New Deal legislation Conservatives on Court did not want federal intervention in economy Struck down FDR s legislation FDR s court-packing plan Get Congress to expand Court Congress refused Switch in time that saved nine

48 The Warren Court 15.6 Most active Court Chief Justice Earl Warren ( ) Brown was one of his first cases Expanded rights of defendants Prohibited school prayer

49 The Burger Court 15.6 More conservative Court Chief Justice Warren Burger Roe v. Wade was one of its major decisions Upheld affirmative action Made Nixon turn over tapes

50 The Rehnquist and Roberts Courts 15.6 Even more conservative Courts Chief Justice William Rehnquist Conservative appointees dominate Chief Justice John Roberts (2005) Bush v. Gore (2000) Highly activist conservative Court

51 Courts and Democracy 15.7 Where do courts fit in a democracy? Judges not elected Judges hard to remove Judges are from elite backgrounds

52 Scope of Judicial Power 15.7 Are the courts too powerful? Judicial restraint Defer to legislatures Judicial activism Protect minorities

53 TABLE 15.4: Supreme Court rulings in which federal statutes have been found unconstitutional 15.7

54 Discussion Questions 15 Why do we say that judges make policy? How does the Supreme Court make policy? Is the Court s policymaking role a problem in a democracy? Why or why not?

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