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Supreme Court


... Review Review of Presidential Actions Citizens and courts can challenge the president s use of executive order Truman ... Trial by jury (only ... Supreme Court ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Supreme Court

Supreme Court
  • Judiciary The cornerstone of our democracy

Judicial Review
  • Marbury v. Madison (1803)
  • Allows the courts to rule on the
    constitutionality of laws, giving the court the
    power to strike down or reinforce policy
  • Judiciary Act of 1789 and the writ of mandamus
    ruled unconstitutional

Applications of Judicial Review
  • Review of Congressional Acts
  • Since 1803, close to 200 congressional acts have
    been struck down as unconstitutional
  • People can litigate (initiate lawsuits) to oppose
    a law, especially if they feel like their voice
    was not heard
  • Allows people without the political clout or
    influence to lobby Congress directly to still be

Applications of Judicial Review
  • Review of Presidential Actions
  • Citizens and courts can challenge the presidents
    use of executive order
  • Truman sent troops to seize the steel mills in
    1952 when there was strike because would have
    diminished our military capacity in the Korean
    War and would hurt the national economy
  • SCOTUS struck it down as unconstitutional
    (Youngstown Sheet Tube v. Sawyer)
  • Will we see Boehner v. Obama in the near future?

Applications of Judicial Review
  • Review of State Actions
  • Judicial review of state and local acts reinforce
    the supremacy clause of the Constitution
  • Fletcher v. Peck 1810- first time a state law was
    struck down as unconstitutional
  • McCulloch v. Maryland 1819 taxing the bank of
    the United States was unconstitutional

Limits on Judicial Review
  • Justiciable dispute must judge actual
    situations, not hypothetical situations (aka Live
    Controversy rule) no What if we passed a law
    about ____? Is it Constitutional? All cases must
    be real or live.
  • Political question absence of existing law
    makes it difficult for the court to rule on a
    case wont hear a case until a law has been
    passed regarding the issue
  • Ex. anti-gay marriage laws in the past 10 years
    - the court began to hear those cases in March of
    2013 more expected

Types of Jurisprudence
  • Adversarial system in the US
  • Blind justice - decision must be made between 2
    choices (defense vs. prosecution each presents
    its side of the case)
  • Innocent until proven guilty
  • court cant bring up an issue - court maintains
    impartiality and decorum and the jury weighs the
  • 5th Amendment - defendant doesnt have to testify
    against oneself - we use this system in the US
  • Civil lawsuits plaintiff vs. defendant suing
    over money or property - 7th amendment

Types of Jurisprudence
  • Inquisitorial system
  • presumed guilty unless you can prove innocence
  • court is actively involved in pursuing
    facts/investigating the case
  • European (Roman/Napoleonic code) model
  • judge questions the defendant to try to get them
    to admit guilt
  • defendant can present their side of the story
    w/out being cross-examined think Amanda Knox
    case in Italy three trials took place
  • Remember World Civ. Spanish Inquisition

Federal Court System
  • 94 US Dist. Hear 342,000 cases/yr
  • Trial by jury (only federal court with jury)
  • Judge David Bunning sits at this level
  • 12 Courts of Appeal Hear 61,000 cases/yr
  • Panel of 3 judges, sometimes more
  • No cases start here, review district court
  • (MI, OH, KY, TN in the 6th District)

Federal Court System
  • Step 3 US Supreme Court
  • 2013 plenary review with oral arguments in
    about 100 cases 5000 petition the court but
    most are denied
  • 80-90 opinions written 50-60 cases decided
    without oral arguments
  • Cases audio recorded and released on
  • Hear appeals writ of certiorari ask for
    records of the case
  • Very few original jurisdiction cases (they hear
    it first)
  • Rule of 4 four justices needed to agree to
    hear a case this is to grant cert.
  • To refuse a case the court will say Cert. Denied

The Roberts Court
Chief Justice John Roberts
Appointment process
  • President appoints judges for ALL federal court
  • Senate must confirm all nominations by majority
    vote (Advice and consent)
  • Senatorial courtesy tradition started by
    GWashington to seek approval from Senators over
    appointed judges from their states Senators get
    first right of refusal

Public Influence on Justices
  • Justices are NOT elected, appointed by President
  • However, not entirely immune to public opinion
  • Since they were appointed by a specific
    president, they generally agree with his
  • Justices are aware of public opinion, and are
    aware that decisions that flagrantly go against
    public opinion will not be implemented or will be
    subverted by the legislative or amendment process

Checks on SCOTUS
  • President appoints all judges
  • Senate must confirm appointed judges
  • Congress may alter the structure of the court
    system (add or subtract of courts and justices)
  • Congress has the power to impeach judges
  • Congress may amend the Constitution if the Courts
    find a law unconstitutional
  • Ex. Income tax law originally found
    unconstitutionally so Congress added 16th
    amendment in 1913

Types of Opinions
  • When an opinion is written (a decision), it often
    takes months and many drafts
  • Majority Opinion justices in the majority must
    draft an opinion setting out the reasons for
    their decision who won the case? Why?
  • Concurring Opinion justices who agree with the
    end result (who won), but not the legal logic
    used by the majority (still get their name in the
    legal/historical record)
  • Dissenting Opinion justices who disagree with
    the majority opinion write their side can be
    one dissent or multiples depending on legal logic

  • The court is only as powerful as the president
    that will enforce its decisions.
  • John Marshall has rendered his decision now let
    him enforce it! Andrew Jackson
  • Refused to enforce Cherokee land rights resulted
    in the Trail of Tears his successor Martin
    Van Buren eventually carried out the removal
  • All deliberate speed Chief Earl Warren
  • 10 years after Brown only 1 of Southern schools
    were desegregated
  • Eisenhower JFK sent army south to desegregate
  • Court must rely on other branches, state local
    officials and law enforcement agencies to enforce
    its ruling

More SCOTUS Vocab!
  • Stare decisis Let the decision stand
    refusing to take a case (Cert. Denied) ALSO
    means that the lower court decision stands
    Stare decisis it is a form of judicial
  • Amicus curiae brief Friend of the court
    anyone can use their First Amendment right to
    petition the court to hear a case on behalf of
    someone else the legal brief explains the
    seriousness of the issue and why the case should
    be heard

Conservatism vs. Liberalism???
  • Justices are supposed to be above politics and
    maintain impartiality
  • However, they do have personal ideologies or
  • EX. CJ Earl Warren (1953-69) and CJ Warren
    Burger (1969-1986) skewed liberal
  • CJ William Rehnquist (1986-2005) and CJ John
    Roberts (2005-?) skew(ed) conservative
  • Depends on the issue can be loose
    construction on one issue but strict
    construction on another

Strict vs. Loose Construction
  • Loose Construction
  • Courts should interpret the meaning of the
    Constitution broadly and should not limit
    themselves to what is specifically stated or
  • The Constitution must grow and adapt to new
  • Hamilton Jefferson debated the elastic clause
    Hamilton favored loose construction to create
    bank Jefferson not so much

Strict vs. Loose Construction
  • Courts should not reinterpret the Constitution
  • Courts should interpret the Constitution as the
    framers intended
  • In other words, they follow the original intent
    of the framers. (Justice Scalias originalism)

Activism v. Restraint
  • Judicial Activism
  • Judges should interpret law loosely, using their
    power to promote their preferred political and
    social goals.
  • Judges are said to be activists when they are
    likely to interject their own personal values in
    court decision
  • Warren Court and Burger Courts (1950s to mid

Activism v. Restraint
  • Judicial Restraint
  • Legislators, not judges, should make the laws.
  • Judges are said to exercise judicial restraint
    when they rule closely to laws/statutes and
    previous cases when reaching their decisions.
  • Rehnquist court (mid 1980s to 2000s)
  • But is using restraint still injecting ones
    personal values?