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Chapter 14

THE COURTS

Learning Outcomes
14.1 Define judicial review, explain the circumstances under which it was established, and assess the significance of the authority it gave the courts. 14.2 Outline the organization of the U.S. court system and identify the principal functions of courts at each tier of the system.

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Learning Outcomes
14.3 Describe the process by which cases are both accepted for review and decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and analyze the role played by judicial restraint and judicial activism in judicial decisions. 14.4 Explain how judges at different levels of the federal court system are nominated and confirmed to the federal bench.

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Learning Outcomes
14.5 Examine the impact, influence and acceptance of decisions on issues of national importance by an institution unaccountable to the electorate. 14.6 Evaluate the decision-making authority of the federal judiciary within the context of both majoritarian and pluralist democracy.

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National Judicial Supremacy

One Supreme Court


Defined by Section 1, Article III, of Constitution Founders deferred to Congress the decision to create national court system

Judiciary Act of 1789


Federal courts coexist with state courts but are independent from them Federal judges: lifetime appointment

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National Judicial Supremacy

Judicial Review of the Other Branches


Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Established Supreme Courts power of judicial review Power to declare congressional acts invalid if they violate the Constitution Subsequent cases extended power to cover presidential acts as well

Chief Justice John Marshall


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National Judicial Supremacy

The Exercise of Judicial Review


Components of judicial review:
Power of the courts to declare national, state, & local laws invalid Supremacy of national laws/treaties when in conflict with state/local laws Supreme Court is final authority on meaning of Constitution

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The Organization of Courts

Some Court Fundamentals


Criminal and Civil Cases
Government prosecutes criminal cases because crimes are a violation of public order National penal code limited by the principle of federalism Government can be party to civil disputes Courts decide both criminal and Civil cases

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The Organization of Courts

Some Court Fundamentals (cont.)


Procedures and Policymaking
Most cases never go to trial
Plea bargain Threat of lawsuit to exact concession Settle Though rare, even at Supreme Court level Abandon leave disputes unresolved Adjudication
Opinions published in novel cases

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The Organization of Courts

Some Court Fundamentals (cont.)


Procedures and Policymaking
Judges make policy two ways
Common, or judgment law Statutory construction

Three tiers of federal courts organized as pyramid


Bottom: U.S. district courts where litigation begins Middle: U.S. court of appeals Top: U.S. Supreme Court

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The Organization of Courts

The U.S. District Courts


Sources of litigation U.S. district courts extend to the following:
Federal criminal cases, defined by national law Civil cases alleging a violation of national law Civil cases brought against U.S. government Civil cases between citizens of different states when amount in controversy exceeds $75,000

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The Organization of Courts

The U.S. Courts of Appeals


Appellate Court Proceedings
Public Regional courts Panel of three judges

Precedents and Making Decisions


Written judgment of appellate courts serve as precedent for subsequent cases Judges make public policy to the extent that they can influence decisions in other courts Stare decisis
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The Supreme Court

Supreme Court strives to achieve just balance among values of freedom, order, and equality Values came into conflict in two controversial issues
Desecration of the flag School desegregation - Brown v. Board of Education

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The Supreme Court, 2011 Term: The Lineup

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The Supreme Court

Access to the Court


Courts cases come from two sources:
Original jurisdiction Appellate jurisdiction

Litigants in state cases must satisfy two conditions


Must have exhausted appeals in state system Case must raise a federal question

Rule of four

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The Supreme Court

The Solicitor General


Represents national government before Court
Appointed by president 3rd-ranking position in Department of Justice

Duties:
Determining whether to appeal a lower courts decision Reviewing and modifying briefs for appeals Deciding whether or not to file amicus curiae briefs in any appellate court

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The Supreme Court

Decision Making
Courts grant review
Attorneys submit written briefs Oral arguments, limited to 30 minutes per side Oral arguments released on website Justices meet in conference

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The Supreme Court

Decision Making
Judicial Restraint and Judicial Activism
Judicial restraint
Defer to decisions of elected branches of government Elected representatives should make the laws

Judicial activism
Judges should not defer to the elected branches but should use their judicial power to promote the judges preferred social and political goals

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Welcome to the Club!

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The Supreme Court

Decision Making
Judgment and Argument
Judgment Votes remain tentative until Court issues an opinion announcing its judgment
Argument Concurrence Dissent

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The Supreme Court

Decision Making
The Opinion
Chief justice or most senior justice in majority decides which justice writes majority opinion Draft opinion circulated among justices for criticisms and suggestions Public respect of court tested when court ventures into controversial areas

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The Supreme Court

The Chief Justice


Important functions
Forms docket Directs Courts conferences Social, intellectual and policy leadership Control discussion of issues Communicate
By memoranda, not e-mail

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Judicial Recruitment

The Appointment of Federal Judges


No formal requirements for appointment President nominates, Senate must confirm
Appointments likely to serve presidents administration, provide political legacy

Congress sets compensation Appointments for life

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Judicial Recruitment

The Appointment of Federal Judges


The Advice and Consent of the Senate
District and Appeals Court vacancies
Judicial Selection Committee consults with home state senators from which appointment will be made
Senatorial courtesy

Senate Judiciary Committee reviews each judicial nominee and conducts a hearing

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Judicial Recruitment

The Appointment of Federal Judges


The American Bar Association
Screens candidates for the federal bench
Well qualified Qualified Not qualified

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Judicial Recruitment

Recent Presidents and the Federal Judiciary


Since President Carter, more diverse appointments
Under Clinton, women or minorities more than half appointments

Political Ideology at heart of judicial appointments

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Judicial Recruitment

Appointment to the Supreme Court


Vacancy announced President makes nomination Senate confirms
Since 1900, six appointments failed to be confirmed by Senate

Most nominees have prior judicial experience


Tendency for promotion from within judiciary

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The Consequences of Judicial Decisions

Supreme Court Rulings: Implementation and Impact


Decisions are implemented by others Decisions have far-reaching implications beyond the case itself
Roe v. Wade

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The Consequences of Judicial Decisions

Public Opinion and the Supreme Court


Policies coming from Supreme Court are generally in line with public ideology In 2009, 6 in 10 Americans were likely to approve of Supreme Courts job By 2012, public approval rating had fallen to 44 percent

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The Courts and Models of Democracy

Majoritarian model
Courts adhere to letter of law and defer changes to elected representatives

Pluralist model
Courts are policymaking branch of government Class action suits
Rulings have broader impact than other types

State court rulings can be based on either federal law, state law, or both

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The Courts and Models of Democracy

Supreme Court moving in conservative direction


Some states have become havens for liberal values

Judges pay attention to views of other courts and not just those above them

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