The Judiciary

The Judiciary

THE JUDICIARY Big Ideas State and local judges are elected Federal judges are not elected, they are appointed for life What is the reason for this?

Nature of the Judicial System Basic idea: Step 1: Two parties disagree Step 2: Judge hears case and applies the law to determine who is legally correct Step 3: Justice happens

However, most cases dont go to trial Two basic kinds of cases Criminal law Government charges an individual with violating the law Warrants punishment, such as imprisonment or fine

Civil Law Involves a dispute between 2 parties Ex: divorce proceedings, mergers of corporations, civil rights cases Most cases begin and end in the state courts, not the federal courts Participant s in the

Judicial System Judges Litigants Plaintiffs brings a charge against another party you could call them the complaintiff because they have a complaint! Defendant the accused In all cases, the plaintiff is

named first, and then the defendant Marbury v. Madison In many cases, a jury (usually of 12 people) determines the outcome of a lawsuit (A grand jury usually consists of 23 jurors and its role is to determine if there is enough evidence to press charges) Plaintiffs must have standing to sue they must be, or be in danger of being,

immediately affected by the outcome of the case Also includes class-action lawsuits Conflicts must be justiciable disputes something that can be settled by the Court Groups Interest groups often seek out good cases and good litigants

that they think can help them argue their case NAACP ACLU Often they argue the case for litigants Sometimes use amicus curiae briefs to influence the Courts decision or provide additional information Attorneys

Aka lawyers A lot in U.S. Used to be that only the rich could afford a lawyer Not so now, but the rich can afford high powered attorneys who can devote a lot of time to their case Lawyers for the poor are often overworked and have fewer resources

Structure of the Judicial System So there are state courts and federal courts (both states and federal govt. can create courts) Each state has its own supreme court State courts handle violations

of state law Federal courts handle violations of federal law Judiciary Act of 1789 Congress creates a constitutional court system Constitution doesnt say much about how this should

be done Also created legislative courts for specialized purposes Military appeals, international trade, tax courts etc. Two types of jurisdiction Original jurisdiction Where a case is heard first, usually in a trial

Determines facts of a case, and whether it is civil or criminal Over 90% of cases begin and end here Appellate jurisdiction Lawyers can sometimes appeal a decision they dont like to a higher court These courts dont look at the fact of the case, only the legal issues involved; they make sure the laws

Most litigation in the federal court system comes through one of 94 district courts At least one in each state Original jurisdiction, no appeals Courts of Appeal 13, including D.C., 11

numbered, then D.C., then the U.S. court of appeals for the federal circuit, which hears specific appeals cases These courts set precedent for other cases in their jurisdiction What is the highest court in the land? The Supreme

Court Top of the U.S. court system Resolves conflicts among the states Maintains national supremacy in law (over state law) Ensures uniformity in interpretations of national laws

Who they are 9 justices, including 1 Chief Justice No specific number required by Const.; weve had between 6 and 10 9 since Grant administration Must decide which cases to hear

Even though the S.C. has some original jurisdiction , not many cases come up under this jurisdiction Mostly the S.C. hears appeals Cases can be appealed from both state or federal courts, but a state appeal must involve a substantial federal question For example, if a state

trial violated the Bill of Rights Appointing Judges Judges are only human. They have their own politics and belief systems Because of this, presidents try to appoint judges who will be sympathetic to their

views Presidents can greatly influence the justice system by who they appoint Justices serve for life in good behavior (Good behavior includes things like eating your vegetables, making sure your room is clean, not running with scissors, not talking while the president is talking, and not

engaging in horseplay and roughhousing during important meetings (looking at you Justice Kennedy)) Justices can be impeached, but this has only happened 7 times; a justice has never been removed from the Senate doesnt necessarily give the president what they want Senatorial Courtesy When it comes to nominating judges to

the lower courts, Senators have a lot of power By tradition, Senate does not confirm appointments if a senator of the presidents party from the state in which the judge is to serve, is opposed to the nomination This means presidents usually check with Senators first before making these appointments Senatorial courtesy does

not apply to the 13 appeals courts however Because they (appeals courts) are more influential, presidents play a greater role Supreme Court Nomination s

Super important because obviously President can only nominate if there is vacancy (happens about every two years) Presidents are less influenced by the Senate in nominating to S.C. Usually A.G. and Justice Dept. give pres. recommendations About 20% of nominees dont get appointed More likely to happen if nominee would change the ideological balance of the court, or if it is at the end of a presidents term (Obama?)

Also if pres party is minority party in Senate Despite this, its hard to oppose a nomination unless you can show ethical abuses or incompetence Background s of the Judges Nothing specific in the Const. Generally presidents want to nominate skilled and honorable people who reflect

well on them Federal judges not very representative of America (overwhelmingly white men) Most have been judges or prosecutors before Most have been involved in partisan politics (partially how they get recognized) All S.C. justices have been lawyers All but a handful have been white men Usually 90% of nominees are from the

Judges play the political game too Often try to time their retirements so a president with similar views will choose their successor (RBG?) Judges are not loyal to the president though; they will often issue rulings that irk the president When asked if he made

any mistakes as president, Eisenhower remarked, yes, and they are both sitting on the Supreme Court Accepting Cases Courts of original jurisdiction dont have much say in which cases

they hear Appellate courts do 8000 cases submitted to S.C. each year Few will be chosen (80-100) Each week, the 9 justices meet in a super secret meeting They review submitted cases In order to take a case,

at least 4 of the justices must agree to review it; called the rule of The most common way the court takes a case is through a writ of certiorari a formal document that calls up the case from a lower court Cases that involve major issues, such as civil rights, are likely to be called up Solicitor General

Third ranking member of the Justice Department also plays a role Their staff reviews cases involving the govt. and sends serious ones to the S.C. How the Supreme Court makes decisions Once the justices have decided

which cases to hear, its time for arguments They have already reviewed many briefs presented by the lawyers for each side, in addition to amicus curiae briefs submitted by groups that have a stake in the courts decision Each attorney has 30 minutes to present their case to the court

The Vote Next, the Chief Justice brings up a case and invites discussion If the justices votes arent clear based on the discussion the CJ will ask members to vote At least 6 justices must participate Decisions are based on

The Opinion An important part of this process is the writing of an opinion This is the courts reasoning and rationale for its decision, and can be extremely influential Justices opposed to all or part of the majority decision can write

a dissenting opinion Justices who agree with the majority decision, but for other reasons, can write a Most cases that reach the S.C. are decided on the basis of stare decisis let the decision stand the lower courts decision stands They rely heavily on precedent the way cases were decided on in the past The S.C. can overturn past S.C.

decisions and set new precedent Lower courts are expected to follow the precedent set by the S.C. Implementin g Decisions Just because the court has issued a ruling doesnt mean its smooth sailing That decision must be translated into actual policy, a

process called judicial implementation This can be difficult if: People are unclear about or misinterpret the courts decision People in charge of IMPORTANT EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE COURT

Marshall Court 1801-1835 CJ John Marshall Marbury v. Madison Judicial Review By temporarily weakening the court (saying it did not have the power to hear Marburys case, based on the Constitution), it gave itself

the power of judicial review Hughes Court 1937 CJ John Evans Hughes Conservative justices opposed New Deal legislation FDR wanted Congress to expand the # of justices

so he could place sympathetic justices on the court Warren Court 1953-1969 CJ Earl Warren Very influential, especially in civil rights

Brown v. Board Prohibited school prayer Burger Court 1969-1986 CJ Warren Burger More conservative overall, but also: Roe v. Wade

Upheld affirmative action Ordered Nixon to turn over Watergate tapes in U.S. v. Nixon (1974) Rehnquist Court 1994-2005 CJ William Rehnquist Conservative Bush v. Gore

Roberts Court 2005 to present CJ John G. Roberts Citizens United v. FEC (2010) McDonald v. Chicago (2010) 2nd amendment applies to states Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) court ruled due process clause

and equal protection clause of 14th amendment guarantee the right of same sex couples to marry The Courts and Democracy Designed to be insulated from popular opinion but..

Tend to decide in favor of majority of Americans The Courts and Power Some argue for judicial restraint Cautious approach Based on precedent referee Others support judicial activism

Bigger and bolder policy decisions Often helps underrepresented groups and minority voices Both liberal and conservative Often, courts use political questions to avoid deciding a case, especially if it is a conflict between Congress and the president War Powers Resolution There are checks on the Court too

President appoints and Senate confirms Amendments can overturn decisions Congress can sometimes pass laws that in effect overturn courts decision

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