The Judicial Branch

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					The Judicial

  Lower Courts,
  Supreme Court
Judicial Branch
• The Constitution establishes a Supreme Court
  – the top of the American judicial system.
• Article III of the Constitution describes the
  Judicial Branch.
• The Constitution also authorized Congress to
  establish any other courts that are needed
• Under the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress set
  up the system of federal courts that is still in
  place today
 Lower Courts
• Most cases begin in district court where
  evidence is presented and a jury or judge
  decides the facts of the case.
• A party that disagrees with the decisions
  may appeal it – ask the decision to be
  reviewed by a higher court.
• Next level is the appellate court where the
  judge reviews decisions of district courts to
  make sure the right decision was made.
Supreme Court
• The Court is made up of a Chief Justice and
  eight Associate Justices
  – Chief Justice –John G. Roberts, Jr.
  – Justices – John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia,
    Anthony Kennedy, David Hackett Souder, Clarence
    Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer,
    Samuel Alito
• The President appoints the justices but
  Congress must approve the appointment
• Justices serve for life
• The main job of the Court is to serve as the
  nation’s final court of appeals
Supreme Court Cont’d
• Hears and decides fewer than 100 cases per year
• Usually involve federal laws
• The justices hear oral argument and then vote –
  must have the majority of at least 5 justices.
• Greatest power is to decide what the Constitution
  – Declare whether acts of the President or laws passed
    by Congress are unconstitutional – not allowed under
    the Constitution
• Refers to the right of a court to hear a case
• Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases that
  involve the Constitution, federal laws, treaties,
  foreign ambassadors and diplomats, naval and
  maritime laws, disagreements between states,
  and disputes between a state or citizen and a
  foreign state or citizen
• In Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court
  established the right to judge whether or not a
  law is constitutional
   – Called Judicial Review
             United States Court System
• State Court                  • Supreme Court
  – Highest state court        • Court of Appeals
  – Hears appeals of              – Hears appeals of cases
    Appellate Court                 originating in United
• Appellate Court                   States District Court
  – Hears appeals of Trial        – Can review decisions by
    Court                           federal administrative
• Trial Court
  – Hears civil and criminal
                               • District Court
    cases                         – Federal trial court
  – Juries render verdict         – Handles criminal and civil
    based on evidence               cases
  – Judges enforce rules of       – Juries render verdicts
    procedure                       and judges enforce rules
                                    of procedure
Historic Supreme Court Cases
• McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) -- A
  conflict arose between a state government
  and the Federal government, with the state
  government being declared subordinate to
  the Federal government where laws conflict.
• Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) -- Slaves
  were classified as property. This case fueled
  the flames that began the Civil War
• Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) -- This
  famous case laid the groundwork for the
  "separate but equal doctrine" that limited
  the rights of minorities for decades.
• Schenck v. United States (1919) --
  "Clear and Present Danger" was
  established in this case as an acceptable
  reason for the limiting of free expression.
• Powell v. Alabama (1932) -- The
  Supreme Court ruled here that the right to
  counsel was required by law in death
  penalty trials.
• Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
  (1954) -- A tremendous step in the direction of
  equal rights for all citizens.
• NAACP v. Alabama (1958) -- Freedom of
  association (the right to assemble in groups) was
  protected here.
• Miranda v. Arizona (1966)- that a person accused
  has the warning that statements given can a will
  be used against you in a court of law
• Roe v. Wade (1973) -- In this highly
  controversial case the Supreme Court laid down
  what states can and cannot control in regards to
• Roper v. Simmons (2005) – The U.S.
  Supreme Court has decided that the
  execution of juveniles is considered cruel
  and unusual punishment.
• Notable Decisions

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