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Chapter 16 What are the words on the front of the Supreme Court building?


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Title: Chapter 16 What are the words on the front of the Supreme Court building?

Chapter 16 What are the words on the front of the
Supreme Court building?
  • The Federal Courts

The Court 2008
  • The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United
    States as of 2008. Top row (left to right)
    Stephen G. Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader
    Ginsburg, and Samuel A. Alito. Bottom row (left
    to right) Anthony M. Kennedy, John Paul Stevens,
    Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Antonin G. Scalia,
    and David H. Souter.

The Court Early 2010
  • Front row (L-R) Associate Justice Anthony M.
    Kennedy, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens,
    Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice
    Antonin Scalia, and Associate Justice Clarence
    Thomas. Back Row (L-R), Associate Justice Samuel
    Alito Jr., Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
    Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, and Associate
    Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

(No Transcript)
The Supreme Court, 2004
John Roberts b.1955 appt. 2005 Harvard Law
Catholic Samuel Alito b.1950 appt. 2006
Yale Law Catholic Sonia Sotomayor b. 1954
appt. 2009 Yale Law Catholic Elena Kagan
b. 1960 appt. 2010 Harvard Law Jewish
Who are the justices of the Supreme Court in 2010?
The Constitution and the Creation of the Federal
  • Framers devoted little time to the creation of
    the judiciary.
  • Believed it posed little of the threat of tyranny
    they feared from the other two branches.
  • Anti-federalists did see the judiciary as a
  • Framers left it to Congress to design the federal

Article III
  • Did not settle the question of judicial review -
    very important!!!
  • Not explicitly stated in the Constitution
  • Allows the judiciary to review the
    constitutionality of acts of the other branches
    of government and the states
  • Judicial review settled with Marbury v. Madison
    (1803) for national governments acts and Martin
    v. Hunters Lessee (1816) regarding state law

The Judicial Power of the United States Supreme
The following are the types of cases the Supreme
Court was given the jurisdiction to hear as
initially specified in the Constitution
  • All cases arising under the Constitution and laws
    or treaties of the United States
  • All cases of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction
  • Cases in which the United States is a party
  • Controversies between a state and citizens of
    another state
  • Controversies between two or more states
  • Controversies between citizens of different
  • Controversies between citizens of the same states
    claiming lands under grants in different states
  • Controversies between a state, or the citizens
    thereof, and foreign states or citizens thereof
  • All cases affecting ambassadors or other public

Article III
  • Section I gave Congress the authority to
    establish other courts as it saw fit.
  • Section II specifies the judicial power of the
    Supreme Court and discusses the Courts original
    and appellate jurisdiction.
  • Also specifies that all federal crimes, except
    those involving impeachment, shall be tried by
    jury in the state in which the crime was
  • Section III defines treason, and mandates that at
    least two witnesses appear in such cases.

Article III
  • Framers gave federal judges tenure for life with
    good behavior.
  • Did not want judges to be subject to the whims of
    politics, the public, or politicians
  • Hamilton argued in Federalist 78 that the
    independence of judges was needed to guard the
    Constitution and the rights of individuals.
  • Some checks on judiciary included
  • Congress has the authority to alter the Courts
  • Congress can propose constitutional amendments
    that, if ratified, can effectively reverse
    judicial decisions.
  • Congress can impeach and remove federal judges.
  • President (with advise and consent of Senate)
    appoints federal judges.

The Judiciary Act of 1789 and the Creation of the
Federal Judicial System
  • Established the basic three-tiered structure of
    the federal court system
  • District courts at least one in each state, each
    staffed by a federal judge.
  • Circuit Court avenue for appeal.
  • Each circuit court initially composed of one
    district court judge and two itinerant Supreme
    Court Justices who met as a circuit court twice a
  • Supreme Court size set in the Act chief justice
    and five associates
  • Number of justices set to 9 in 1869.

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The Early Court
  • First session of the Supreme Court initially had
    to be adjourned when a quorum of the justices
    failed to show up.
  • Later, the court decided only one major case.
  • Relatively lowly status
  • One associate judge left to become chief justice
    of a state supreme court.

The Early Court
  • First decade, Court not co-equal but it did
    assert itself.
  • Declined to give President Washington advice on
    the legality of some of his actions
  • Attempted to establish the Court as an
    independent, nonpolitical branch
  • Tried to advance principles of nationalism and to
    maintain the national governments supremacy over
    the states
  • Began to pave the way for announcement of the
    doctrine of judicial review

The Marshall Court Marbury v. Madison (1803) and
Judicial Review
  • Marbury v. Madison
  • Supreme Court first asserted the power of
    judicial review (define) in finding that the
    congressional statute extending the Courts
    original jurisdiction was unconstitutional.
  • Marshall claimed this sweeping authority for the
    Court by asserting that the right of judicial
    review was a power that could be implied from the
    Constitutions supremacy clause (define).
  • The immediate effect was to deny power to the
    Court. The long term effect was to establish the
    power of judicial review.

The American Legal System
  • Trial courts
  • Courts of original jurisdiction where a case
  • Appellate courts
  • Courts that generally review only findings of law
    made by lower courts
  • Jurisdiction
  • Authority vested in a particular court to hear
    and decide the issues in any particular case
  • Original jurisdiction The jurisdiction of courts
    that hears a case first, usually in a trial.
    Courts determine the facts of a case under their
    original jurisdiction.
  • Appellate jurisdiction The power vested in an
    appellate court to review and/or revise the
    decision of a lower court.

The American Legal System
  • Criminal law
  • Codes of behavior related to the protection of
    property and individual safety
  • Civil law
  • Codes of behavior related to business and
    contractual relationships between groups and

The Nature of the Judicial System
  • Participants in the Judicial System
  • Litigants
  • Plaintiff - the party bringing the charge
  • Defendant - the party being charged
  • Jury - the people (normally 12) who often decide
    the outcome of a case
  • Standing to sue - plaintiffs have a serious
    interest in the case.
  • Justiciable disputes A case must be capable of
    being settled as a matter of law.
  • Plea Bargains most common result

The Structure of the Federal Judicial System
The Federal Court System
  • Constitutional courts
  • Federal courts specifically created by the U.S.
    Constitution or Congress pursuant to its
    authority in Article III
  • Legislative courts
  • Courts established by Congress for specialized
    purposes, such as the Court of Military Appeals

The Federal Court System
  • District Courts
  • 94 federal district courts staffed by 646 active
    judges, assisted by more than 300 retired judges
  • No district courts cross state lines.
  • Every state has at least one federal district
  • The most populous states have four (CA, TX, and
    NY). Georgia has three.

The Federal Court System
Original Jurisdiction of Federal District Courts
  • Involve the federal government as a party
  • Present a federal question based on a claim under
    the U.S. Constitution, a treaty with another
    nation, or a federal statute
  • Involve civil suits in which citizens are from
    different states, and the amount of money at
    issue is more than 75,000

District Courts
  • Each federal judicial district has a U.S.
  • This individual is nominated by the president and
    confirmed by the senate.
  • The attorney is that districts chief law
    enforcement officer.
  • They have a considerable amount of discretion as
    to whether they pursue criminal or civil
    investigations or file charges against
    individuals or corporations.

The Federal Courts of Appeals
  • The losing party in a case heard and decided in a
    federal district court can appeal the decision to
    the appropriate court of appeals.
  • 11 numbered circuit courts
  • Twelfth, D.C. Court of Appeals
  • Handles most appeals involving federal regulatory
    commissions and agencies
  • Thirteenth, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal
  • Deals with patents and contract and financial
    claims against the federal government
  • Have no original jurisdiction
  • Try to correct errors of law and procedure that
    have occurred in the lower courts or
    administrative agencies
  • Hear no new testimony.

The Structure of the Federal Judicial System
  • The Federal Judicial Circuits (Figure 16.2)

The Structure of the Federal Judicial System
  • The Supreme Court
  • 9 justices 1 Chief Justice, 8 Associate
  • Supreme Court decides which cases it will hear
  • Some original jurisdiction, but mostly appellate
  • Most cases come from the federal courts
  • Most cases are civil cases

The Supreme Court
  • Decisions of the court of appeals are binding on
    only the district courts within the geographic
    confines of the circuit.
  • Decisions of the Supreme Court are binding
    throughout the nation and establish national
  • Reliance on past decisions or precedents to
    formulate decisions in new cases is called stare
  • Allows for continuity and predictability

How Federal Court Judges Are Selected
  • Often a very political process
  • Judges nominated by president and confirmed by
  • Can reflect the ideological stamp of the
    president WHY?
  • Senatorial Courtesy
  • A process by which presidents, when selecting
    district court judges, defer to the senator in
    whose state the vacancy occurs.

What are the characteristics of district court
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How does a president affect the federal judiciary?
Who Are Federal Judges?
  • Typically they have held other political offices.
  • State court judge or prosecutor
  • Most have been involved in politics
  • White males tend to dominate

Appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Nomination Criteria
  • Competence
  • Ideology or Policy Preference
  • Strict constructionist an approach to
    constitutional interpretation that emphasizes the
    Framers original intentions.
  • Who is/ are the strict constructionists on the
    Court today?
  • Pursuit of Political Support from Various Groups
  • Litmus Test

The Supreme Court Confirmation Process
  • Investigation
  • Lobbying by Interest Groups
  • Senate Committee Hearings
  • Senate Vote

The Politics of Judicial Selection
  • The Lower Courts
  • Senatorial Courtesy
  • Unwritten tradition where a judge is not
    confirmed if a senator of the presidents party
    from the state where the nominee will serve
    opposes the nomination.
  • Has the effect of the president approving the
    Senates choice
  • President has more influence on appellate level.

The Politics of Judicial Selection
  • The Supreme Court
  • President relies on attorney general and DOJ to
    screen candidates.
  • 1 out of 5 nominees will not make it.
  • Presidents with minority party support in the
    Senate will have more trouble.
  • Chief Justice can be chosen from a sitting
    justice, or a new member.

The Politics of Judicial Selection
The Backgrounds of Judges and Justices
  • Characteristics
  • Generally white males
  • Lawyers with judicial and often political
  • Other Factors
  • Generally of the same party as the appointing
  • Litmus Test What is it today?
  • Judges and justices may disappoint the appointing

The Backgrounds of Judges and Justices
Interest Groups
The Supreme Court Today Deciding to Hear a Case
  • 9,000 cases were filed at the Supreme Court in
    its 2003-2004 term.
  • Not always the norm
  • 1940s fewer than 1000 cases filed annually
  • During the 2003-2004 term, 90 cases were argued
    and 73 signed petitions were issued.
  • Modern period, many of the cases have involved
    Bill of Rights issues

How Does a Case Survive the Process?
  • Characteristics of the cases the Court accepts
  • The federal government is the party asking for
  • Solicitor General What does he do?
  • The case involves conflict among circuit courts.
  • The case presents a civil rights or civil
    liberties question.
  • The case involves ideological and/or policy
    preferences of the justices.
  • The case has significant social or political
    interest, as evidenced by the presence of
    interest group amicus curiae briefs.

Supreme Court Caseload, 1950-2004 Terms
Supreme Court Today
  • Court has two types of jurisdiction
  • Original
  • Appellate
  • Rule of Four
  • Court controls its caseload through the
    certiorari process.
  • All petitions for certiorari must meet two
  • The case must come either from a U.S. court of
    appeals, a special three-judge district court, or
    a state court of last resort.
  • Case must involve a federal question. This means
    that the case must present questions of
    interpretation of federal constitutional law or
    involve a federal statute, action or treaty.
  • Cert pool
  • Discuss list
  • Cert granted when at least four justices vote to
    hear a case

Supreme Court Cases
What Do Supreme Court Clerks Do?
  • Supreme Court clerks are among the best and
    brightest recent law school graduates. Almost all
    first clerks for a judge on one of the courts of
    appeals. After their Supreme Court clerkship,
    former clerks are in high demand. Firms often pay
    signing bonuses of up to 200,000 to attract
    clerks, who often earn over 250,000 their first
    year in private practice.
  • Tasks of a Supreme Court clerk including the
  • Perform initial screening of the 8,000 or so
    petitions that come to the Court each term
  • Draft memos to summarize the facts and issues in
    each case, recommending whether the case should
    be accepted by the Court for full review
  • Write a bench memo summarizing an accepted case
    and suggesting questions for oral argument
  • Write the first draft of an opinion
  • Be an informal conduit for communicating and
    negotiating between other justices chambers as
    to the final wording of an opinion

Table 10.7
  • Amicus Curiae Briefs in an Affirmative Action
    case Grutter v. Bolinger and Gratz v. Bolinger

Hearing and Deciding a Case
  • Oral arguments
  • The conference and the vote
  • The opinion

The Courts as Policymakers
  • Accepting Cases
  • Use the rule of four to choose cases. What is
    the rule of four?
  • Issues a writ of certiorari to call up the case.
  • Very few cases are actually accepted each year.

The Courts as Policymakers
  • Making Decisions
  • Oral arguments may be made in a case.
  • Justices discuss the case.
  • One justice will write the majority opinion
    (statement of legal reasoning behind a judicial
    decision) on the case.

The Courts as Policymakers
  • Making Decisions, continued
  • Dissenting opinions are written by justices who
    oppose the majority.
  • Concurring opinions are written in support of the
    majority but stress a different legal basis.
  • Stare decisis to let the previous decision stand
  • Precedents How similar past cases were decided.
  • Original Intent The idea that the Constitution
    should be viewed according to the original intent
    of the framers.

The Courts as Policymakers
  • Implementing Court Decisions
  • Must rely on others to carry out decisions
  • Interpreting population understand the decision
  • Implementing population the people who need to
    carry out the decision may be disagreement
  • Consumer population the people who are affected
    (or could be) by the decision

The Courts and the Policy Agenda
  • A Historical Review
  • John Marshall (1801-1835) and the Growth of
    Judicial Review
  • Marbury v. Madison
  • Judicial review courts determine
    constitutionality of acts of Congress
  • The Nine Old Men switch in time and the New
  • The Warren Court Liberal Activist 1953-1969
  • The Burger Court 1969-1986
  • The Rehnquist Court 1986-2005
  • The Roberts Court??? 2005-

Selected Chief Justices Can you name them?
Judicial Policy Making and Implementation
  • Policy making
  • More than one hundred federal laws have been
    declared unconstitutional.
  • Ability to overrule itself
  • Judicial Implementation
  • Refers to how and whether judicial decisions are
    translated into actual public policies affecting
    more than the immediate parties to a lawsuit.

Understanding the Courts
  • The Courts and Democracy
  • Courts are not very democratic
  • Not elected
  • Difficult to remove
  • The courts do reflect popular majorities
  • Groups are likely to use the courts when other
    methods fail promoting pluralism
  • There are still conflicting rulings leading to
    deadlock and inconsistency
  • Public opinion and the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court and the American Public
Understanding the Courts
  • What Courts Should Do The Scope of Judicial
  • Judicial restraint judges should play a minimal
    policymaking role - leave the policies to the
    legislative branch. Which party supports this?
  • Judicial activism judges should make bold policy
    decisions and even charting new constitutional
    ground. Which party/group supports this? WHY?
  • Political questions means of the federal courts
    to avoid deciding some cases.
  • Statutory construction the judicial
    interpretation of an act of Congress.

Judicial Philosophy and Decision Making
  • Judicial restraint
  • A philosophy of judicial decision making that
    argues courts should allow the decisions of other
    branches of government to stand, even when they
    offend a judges own sense of principles.
  • Judicial activism
  • A philosophy of judicial decision making that
    argues judges should use their power broadly to
    further justice, especially in the areas of
    equality and personal liberty.

Understanding the Courts
To 1993
Table 10.5
In 2002, when Americans were asked to name the
The Supreme Court, 2004
John Roberts b.1955 appt. 2005 Harvard Law
Catholic Samuel Alito b.1950 appt. 2006
Yale Law Catholic Sonia Sotomayor b. 1954
appt. 2009 Yale Law Catholic Elena Kagan
b. 1960 appt. 2010 Harvard Law Jewish
Who are the justices of the Supreme Court in 2010?
How many interest groups submit testimony to the
Senate Judiciary Committee?
Can Americans name the justices of the Supreme
The End