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THE JUDICIARY Powered By Docstoc
					Chapter 12|
     The Judiciary

     March 3, 2005
• Sources of law             • Organization
   – How do they interact?     – Federal District Courts
• Types of Law                 – Circuit Courts of
• Constitutional Powers          Appeal
   – Judicial Review           – U.S. Supreme Court
                                   Flow of the System
• Constitutional
  Interpretation             •   Avenues to the Court
• Activism v. Restraint      •   Procedure
• Creation of the Federal    •   Judicial Opinions
  Judiciary System           •   Appointment of Justices
                             •   People
  American Sources of Law
• Common Law: Law developed through
  judicial decisions articulating principles for
  deciding future disputes. An ancient form of
  jurisprudence brought to the U.S. by Great

• Statutory Law: A body of law derived from
  legislative acts (statutes) rather than from
  constitutions or judicial decisions.
 American Sources of Law
• Equity Law: Traditional rules of fairness and
  justices that may properly supplement the law
  in particular circumstances

• Constitutional Law: Derived from the U.S.
  Constitution and dealing with governmental
  power and civil rights (Supreme law in the
How do these sources interact?
• Sometimes they fit together naturally, at other
  times they create great internal tensions.
• Statutory (Legislative-made) Law has
  supplanted the Common (Judge-made) Law in
  the U.S.
• However, judges still exercise much discretion:
  – Common Law Principles are often written into
    legislative statutes.
  – Judges can apply Equity principles
  – Judges are empowered to ‚say what the law means‛,
    i.e., to interpret the law.
            Types of Law
• Criminal Law: Legal actions in which
  government charges an individual with
  violation of a statute. Criminal cases can end
  in imprisonment, fine or worse.

• Civil Law: Disputes among individuals, or
  between individuals and government not
  involving a criminal violation. Civil suits
  cannot lead to imprisonment, but may result
  in monetary damages.
            Types of Law
• Public Law: Cases in which a citizen alleges
  that government has misused its powers to
  violate a definable, protected right. Here the
  court relies on stare decisis – precedent, or the
  decisions of past courts
    Constitutional Powers of the
         Federal Judiciary

U.S. Constitution, Art. III, Section 1:

 The judicial Power of the United States will be
    vested in one Supreme Court, and in such
  inferior Courts as the Congress may from time
            to time ordain and establish.
   Constitutional Powers of the
        Federal Judiciary
Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution:
• Creates federal judiciary
• Stipulates life term of justices
• Specifies categories of cases the Court may
  or must hear
• Grants Congress the power to create
  additional federal courts as needed
     Constitutional Powers of the
          Federal Judiciary
• Art. 3, Sec. 2 lays out the original jurisdiction of the
  Supreme Court (p. A-12 to A-13)
   – States versus states
   – Foreign ministers and Consuls
   – States versus the National government

• Original jurisdiction – The court at which a case is heard
  for the first time. In these cases, the Court sits as a Trial
  Court! A trier of fact and hearer of evidence.

• Appellate jurisdiction – The court that evaluates the acts
  of lower courts or other branches of government
   Constitutional Powers of the
        Federal Judiciary
Power of Judicial Review:

• Implied Constitutional authority of the
  Court to declare null and void acts of
  Congress and state legislatures on the
  grounds that they violate the Constitution

• Also extends to acts of the executive
  branch and administrative agencies
   Constitutional Powers of the
        Federal Judiciary
Judicial review was established by:

• Marbury v. Madison (1803)
• Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the
  part of the Judiciary Act of 1789 giving
  the S.Ct. original jurisdiction over the
  Secretary of State unconstitutional.
• Marbury lost on a technicality.
 Constitutional Interpretation
3 Theories of Interpretation:

• Plain text
• Original intent
• Living-constitution
       Activism v. Restraint
• Judicial activism: Go against precedent

• Judicial restraint: Uphold precedent
 Creation of the Federal Judiciary
Judiciary Act of 1789:
• Established a federal court system based
  on the state geography
• Created 2 lower tiers of courts: federal
  district courts and the circuit courts of
Organization of The Federal
    Organization of The Federal
• Federal District Courts are based in the
  states, their judges are drawn from the
  population of their state

• Has original jurisdiction over most federal
    Organization of The Federal
• U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal: The ‘2nd tier’ of
  federal courts. They hear appeals from district
• Circuits are groups of states
• Texas resides in the 5th Circuit that includes:
     • Texas
     • Louisiana
     • Mississippi
• Sits at the top of both the Federal and the
  National Court systems:
  – Hears appeals from the Circuit Courts

  – Also hears appeals from the highest state
     • Where a state court has been called upon to
       interpret a federal law, or the U.S. Constitution
     • Where a state is accused of violating an individual
       right under the 14th Amendment.
       Avenues to the Court
• Request review under original jurisdiction

• Writ of Appeal: A vehicle established by
  Congress applying only to certain kinds of
  cases. The Court MUST hear these cases.
  It doesn’t get to decide.
  – Voting Rights Act
  – Civil Rights Acts
       Avenues to the Court
• Petition for a writ of certiorari: Vehicle
  created by Congress to allow the Court to
  decide whether or not to hear a case.
  – Court has complete discretion
  – Vast majority of cases come to the Court
    under a petition for certiorari.
  – Certiorari: Latin, meaning ‚to be informed‛,
    also meaning ‚send the record up.‛
          Writ of Certiorari
• In forma pauperis: Granted to someone who
  is unable to pay the filing fee of $300,
  usually filed by the incarcerated.

• Most famous pauperis brief was filed by
  Clarence Earl Gideon in the landmark case
  Gideon v. Wainwright, a case on the right to
  counsel under the 6th Amendment
 How do the Justices decide what
         cases to take?
• Rule of Four: A formal norm of the Court
  requiring that at least four justices ask that
  a lower court decision in a particular case
  be reviewed by the Court.
• Join Three: An informal, collegial norm. If
  three justices feel strongly that a case
  should be heard, a fourth justice will join
  them out of courtesy.
  Are some cases more likely to be
         granted review?
Judicial ‘cues’:
   • Political Question: Court rejects cases involving an
     issue best left to the other branches of government.
     These are very narrowly defined, relating largely to
     the internal workings of the other two co-equal
   • Standing to Sue: Must have proper standing to bring
     a suit.
   • Lower court disagreement: Similar cases heard by
     different courts, decided differently
   • Civil Liberties Claim
U.S. Supreme Ct. Procedure
  Types of Judicial Opinions
• Unanimous Opinion
• Majority Opinion
• Concurring Opinion
• Dissenting Opinion
     Appointment of Federal
       Judges & Justices

• Nominated by the president.

• Confirmed by the Senate (2/3 vote)
  – Senatorial Courtesy
  – About 20% of S. Ct. nominations
    have been rejected or ignored.
• Chief Justice
• Associate Justices
• Attorney General
• Solicitor General

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