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The Judicial Branch


The Judicial Branch The Constitution and the National Judiciary Article III of the Constitution establishes: a Supreme Court in which the judicial power of the United ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Judicial Branch

The Judicial Branch
The Constitution and the National Judiciary
  • Article III of the Constitution establishes
  • a Supreme Court in which the judicial power of
    the United States is vested
  • life tenure or 'good behaviour' for judges
  • judges receive compensation that cannot be
    diminished during their service
  • such inferior courts as Congress may choose to
  • the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
  • The intent of Article III was to remedy the
    failings of the Articles of Confederation which
    left judicial matters to the states.

Judicial Review
  • Judicial review is the power of a court to decide
    if a law or other legal issue disregards the
    Constitution, and overturn it.
  • This power is not mentioned in the Constitution.
  • Judicial review was established by the Marshall
    Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803).
  • Marbury's long-term effect has been to allow the
    Court to have the final say in what the
    Constitution means.

The American Legal System
  • The American legal system is a dual system
  • state courts--actually 50 different 'systems'
  • federal courts
  • Both systems have three tiers
  • Trial courts (a.k.a. District Courts) litigation
    begins and courts hear the facts of the case at
    hand (original jurisdiction)
  • One judge, witnesses, presentation of evidence,
    jury or judge decides the case
  • Appellate courts (a.k.a. Circuit Courts) decide
    questions of law, not fact reviews decisions of
    lower courts (appellate jurisdiction)
  • Several judges (3-9), no witnesses (lawyers
    argue), no evidence presented
  • Court of Final Appeals Supreme Courts

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What circuit is Michigan in?
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Who are Federal Judges?
  • Typically federal judges have
  • held previous political office such as prosecutor
    or state court judge
  • political experience such as running a campaign
  • prior judicial experience
  • traditionally been mostly white males
  • been lawyers

Federal Selection Process
Dept. of Justice
Interest Groups
Senate Jud. Comm.
The U.S. Supreme Court
  • Highest court in the land
  • 9 Justices (all but 5 have been white men)
  • Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas African
    American Sandra Day OConnor, Ruth Bader
    Ginsburg Sonya Sotomayor women
  • Chief Justice John Roberts
  • Selects about 100 of the over 7000 cases that are
    submitted to it each year chooses cases that
    involve signification Constitutional questions
    and are important to the entire country

2 Types of Jurisdiction for the Supreme Court
  • Original Jurisdiction the Supreme Court hears
    the case directly, without the case going through
    an intermediate stage.
  • The Supreme Court has original and exclusive
    jurisdiction to hear disputes between different
    states -- meaning that no other federal court can
    hear such a dispute.
  • "Original jurisdiction" cases are rare, with the
    Court hearing one or two cases each term
  • Appellate Jurisdiction - A party seeking to
    appeal a decision of a circuit court can file a
    petition to the Supreme Court for a writ of
  • "Certiorari" is a Latin word meaning "to inform",
    in the sense that the petition informs the Court
    of the request for review.
  • The Supreme Court gets thousands of petitions for
    certiorari, but only issues a writ in a fraction
    of cases. The Court will only issue a writ if
    four of the nine Justices vote to do so.

Supreme Court Decisions
  • Majority vote required to determine outcome of
  • Write opinions
  • Majority opinion states courts decision
  • Dissenting opinion states reasons why judge(s)
    disagreed with majority opinion
  • Concurring opinion states reasons why a judge
    agrees with the decision but for a different
  • Courts do not have the power to implement their
    decisions. The executive branch must enforce the
    Courts decisions.

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How Supreme Court Decisions are Made
Case on the Docket Approx 95
Briefs and Amicus Briefs submitted
Oral Argument
Justices Conference Cases discussed Votes
taken Opinion Assigned
Opinions Announced
Opinions Drafted and Circulated
How the Justices Vote
  • Legal Factors
  • Judicial Philosophy
  • Judicial Restraint - advocates minimalist roles
    for judges
  • Judicial Activism - feels that judges should use
    the law to promote justice, equality, and
    personal liberty.
  • Precedent
  • Prior judicial decisions serve as a rule for
    settling later cases of a similar nature.
  • Precedents can change over time
  • Ex. Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. Board of

Plessy vs. Ferguson
Brown vs. Bd. of Ed.
How the Justices Vote
  • Extra-Legal Factors
  • Behavioral Characteristics
  • The personal experiences of the justices affect
    how they vote. Early poverty, job experience,
    friends and relatives all affect how decisions
    are made.
  • Ideology
  • Ideological beliefs influence justices' voting
  • The Attitudinal Model
  • A justice's attitudes affect voting behavior.
  • Public Opinion
  • Justices watch TV, read newspapers, and go to the
    store like everyone else. They are not insulated
    from public opinion and are probably swayed by it
    some of the time.

Important Civil and Criminal Law Terminology
  • Criminal Law Laws that regulate public conduct
    and set out duties owed to society
  • Criminal Case Court determines whether person
    accused of breaking law is guilty or innocent
  • Prosecution (government) vs. defendant
  • Standard of Proof Guilt beyond a reasonable
    doubt (must not have any doubt that defendant
    committed crime)

  • Civil Law Laws that regulate relationship
    between individuals/groups of individuals
  • Civil Case Court settles a disagreement over
    issues such as contracts, divorce, accidents
  • Plaintiff (individual bringing complaint) vs.
  • Standard of Proof Preponderance of evidence
    (more likely than not the plaintiffs version of
    case is true)

Which type of case has a higher standard of
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