THE FEDERAL COURTS Related Text: Govt in America, Ch 16 Rule of Law A society of laws ruled by laws Justice is blind, the arbitrator btwn adversaries laws Society has est regulations, principles, & norms coordinated by unbiased individuals
Differences btwn criminal & civil law Whats being risked? Attorney provided? Jury deciding the case? Participants in Cases Types of litigants Class action suits: group who have similar complaints, band together to represent all similarly attributed
Cases must be justiciable disputes Concerns: ripeness, mootness Must have standing to sue Role of IGs Judicial Federalism U.S. has 2 court systems: federal & states States also have trial & appellate courts State courts apply state constitution &
laws to cases Federal courts only review when state case deals w/ federal law or application of BoR Federal courts have writ of habeas corpus jurisdiction over states Congress controls appellate jurisdiction Structure of Federal Judiciary
Two types of courts: Constitutional: Article III courts created by Judiciary Act of 1789 Includes SCOTUS, courts of appeal, district courts Legislative: created by Congress for specialized purposes Article I courts
Instructions from Article III Establishes only Supreme Court Congress given power to est. lower courts Level 3: Supreme Court Level 2: Courts of Appeal Level 1: District Courts
Jurisdiction Federal courts have 2 kinds of jurisdiction: Original jurisdiction: trial court; pwr to pass judgment on both facts of case & law District courts (federal laws, diversity cases) SCOTUS has this only in cases w/ ambassadors, diplomats, if a state(s) is a party
Appellate jurisdiction: appeals; pwr to review decisions of federal courts, agencies, & state supreme courts in Level 1: District Courts Trial courts of federal law > at least 1 per state Hear most cases in federal court Level 1: District Courts Trial courts of federal law > at least 1
per state Hear most cases in federal court Original jurisdiction: Federal crimes & civil suits; civil diversity suits over $75,000; bankruptcy proceedings Supervision of the naturalization of aliens; admiralty and maritime law cases Most cases decided by 1 judge; voting rights & reapportionment > 3 judge
panel Level 2: Courts of Appeal Appeals court for federal district courts Focus: correct errors of procedure & law Decisions bound by precedent Most cases come from district courts; also hears cases reviewing actions of federal administrative agencies Circuits hear cases in their geographic
region = 13 courts 11 geographic circuits; 12th in D.C** 13th = Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Level 3: Supreme Court Currently 9 justices [# set by Congress] Important functions: Resolve conflicts among states Maintain natl supremacy in law Ensure uniformity in interpretation of natl
law SCOTUS has both original & appellate jurisdiction; most cases are appeals Original = cases involving foreign diplomats, disputes btwn states How Most Cases Reach the Supreme Court SCOTUS
original juris. SCOTUS appellate juris (federal) SCOTUS appellate juris
(state) S. Sotomayor S. Breyer Obama C. Thomas
H.W. Bush Clinton A. Scalia Reagan S. Alito W. Bush
CHIEF JUSTICE J. Roberts W. Bush E. Kagan A. Kennedy Reagan
Obama R. Bader Ginsbur gClinton Politics of Judicial Selection Appointed by Prez; confirmed by Senate NO formal qualifications in Constitution GWs precedents:
Choosing political & ideological allies Every state is represented on some court somewhere Life tenure for Constitutional court judges Politics of Judicial Selection Initial Choice Prez must consider confirmation environment Lower courts > Prez usually consults w/
senators on choices senatorial courtesy Liberal & conservative IGs also try to influence nominations & confirmations SCOTUS nomination* > Prez consults Politics of Judicial Selection Senates Role: Advice & Consent Nomination sent to Senate Judiciary Comm Committee holds hearing & vote
Nominee then considered by whole Senate Ways to stall/prevent confirmation Filibuster! Partisan voting in the Senate **District judges only* must pass blue slip vote to get a committee hearing! Politics of Judicial Selection Senates Role: Advice & Consent (contd) Since 1950s, committee interviews
candidates on issues/philosophylitmus test Most noms refuse to ans specific issue qs Risk of getting Borked Recently, nominations to all levels Why is this? receive more scrutiny Politics of Judicial Selection How a Prez can Overcome Appt
Problems Recess appts Compromise on choice of nominee Making deals (laws, veto) More intense vetting process Diversification as a weapon Politics of Judicial Selection Experience/expertise Many are past lawyers or judges Most have held high administrative or
judicial posts Role of Race, Party, & Gender Prez almost always chooses fellow party member* Increased diversity in appointments, but still not reflective of U.S. population Politics of Judicial Selection Role of Ideology GOP Prez = judicial conservative; Demo Prez = judicial liberal
Moderated by need of bipartisan support Reagan: apptd 368 judges, only those whose beliefs were consistent w/ his views Clinton: bring diversity, but had to compromise w/ GOP Senate W: wanted young conservatives; The West
President Josiah Bartlet: Democrat from NH Charlie Young: Personal Aide to
Bartlet Leo McGarry: WH Chief of Staff Josh Lyman: Deputy WH Chief of Staff
Toby Ziegler: WH Communications Claudia Director Jean CJ Cregg: WH Press Secretary Donna Moss: Senior Assistant to Deputy WH
Chief of Staff [Lyman] Evelyn Baker Lang: District Court Judge Christopher Mulready: Court Judge Ryan Pierce: Intern for
WH Deputy Chief of Staff Lisa Wolfe: Judiciary Chief of Staff, Republican Watch Episode The Supremes
Politics of Judicial Selection Role of Judicial Philosophy Diff in constitutional interpretation can result in diff outcomes of same legal Q Originalist? Adaptive/modernist? Judicial activism vs. judicial restraint: what is the role of the court? Politics of Judicial Selection Reforming the Selection Process
Confirmation hearings televised Recent criticisms: Longer, sometimes more controversial Focus on personal issues Noms dont answer specific Qs Undue influence of politics on selection 8 Steps To Judgement
I. Reviewing Requests for Appeal Appeals come by petition for writ of certiorari or in forma pauperis petition Issued writs create the docket More Abo SCOTUS Writs! Writ of Certiorari
State Supreme Courts State Courts of Appeal State Trial U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals U.S. District Courts
II. Granting the Appeal Discretionary appellate jurisdiction Which Cases Reach the Court? A subjective process, but some predictive factors When two lower courts decisions conflict When a lower courts ruling conflicts w/ an existing SCOTUS ruling When a case has far-reaching
significance When a federal court holds an act of II. Granting the Appeal Which Cases Reach the Court? When the highest state court holds a federal law invalid, or upholds a state law being challenged as violating a federal law When solicitor general is pressuring the Court to hear a case
If rule of 4 applies, Court grants cert Most justices use cert pool to help III. Briefing the Case Written briefs presented to justices & their clerks from both sides Interested parties may be permitted to file amicus curiae briefs Sometimes briefs written w/ specific justices concerns in mind
IV. Oral Arguments Each side given 30 minutes Informally formal process Justices have different questioning styles Oyez: Morse v. Frederick V. Meeting in Conference
Private weekly meetings to discuss oral argument, select new cases Chief Justice presides: discuss case, justices give their conclusions, vote taken Majority opinion then assigned VI. Explaining the Decision Decisions given in opinion of the Court, aka majority opinion Explains reasoning of majority; has
usually been negotiated Other opinions: Concurring opinion Dissenting opinion VII. Writing the Opinion Majority opinion needs at least five justices Plurality opinion needs four Written by justices (often w/ clerks
help) Draft sent to others for approval Justices sometimes bargain w/ each other Threat of removing vote, writing dissenting opinion VIII. Releasing the Opinion Now give short summaries of opinion Copies made in print & digital
Types of Court Decisions Affirm Reverse Remand Influences on SCOTUS Decisions Precedent stare decisis
Chief Justice: head of Judiciary; among equals on the Court but sets tone Law Clerks: help w/ cert, opinion drafts Solicitor General: controls what cases U.S. govt appeals to Supremes Often files amicus briefs Citizens & Interested parties: amicus brief Judicial Implementation
Courts have no enforcement mechanism Impact of Court decision often dependent on those individuals and groups who implement it Sometimes Court decisions ignored, or implemented hesitantly Checks on the Judiciary Judicial Self-Restraint General tradition of restraint
No advisory opinions Stare decisis Generally avoid political questions Executive Checks Appointments Implementation of judicial decisions Checks on the Judiciary Legislative Checks
Appropriation of funds to carry out rulings Constitutional amendments Amending laws to overturn courts rulings Public Opinion When consensus exists on an issue, SCOTUS less likely to render a decision contrary to that consensus Authority lies in publics perception of
Is the Federal Judiciary Democratic? Unelected; unrepresentative Not completely insulated from popular norms or opinions Courts can promote pluralism often used by groups when other methods fail
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