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Unit 5 1 How The Supreme Court Works
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Unit 5 1 How The Supreme Court Works

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    • 1. Judicial Branch Chapter 18 “ The Story of a Problem” You need the ‘Supreme Court Notes’ handout & an additional sheet of paper
    • 2. A problem arises between two parties
      • parties : interested groups or people – the people affected by a situation
      • (can be local, state, or federal governments)
    • 3. Perhaps you think something is WRONG or UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    • 4. Supreme Court
      • SO…
      • You want to take your case all the way to the
      • Supreme Court???
    • 5. Can YOU potentially take a case all the way to the Supreme Court?
      • Yes!
      • No way, not me!
    • 6. First of all, cases are either…
      • Criminal -
      • The defendant is tried for committing an action that has been declared illegal by law
      • Bank robbery, mail fraud, tax evasion, murder, etc…
      • Civil -
      • Involves noncriminal matter, such as a dispute over the terms of a contract
      • Bankruptcy, civil rights, labor relations, terms of a contract, suing, etc…
      BOTH kinds of cases can be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court
    • 7. Can take the issue to be resolved by a court but only if…
      • … the plaintiff has
      • ‘ standing to sue’ – must have a direct, personal interest in a case before he/she can sue.
      • Can’t sue to the rights of the public/for the general interest of the world, or taxpayers
      • The court will hear the case if you have standing to sue
    • 8. A man in Colorado is tired of illegal immigrants getting free health care at local hospitals. He wants the Court to hear his case, arguing that his tax money shouldn’t go to support hospitals that help illegal immigrants. Does he have standing to sue?
      • Yes
      • No
      • I don’t know
    • 9. A boy in Arizona claims he was arrested and convicted for a crime he didn’t commit. He believes his due process rights were violated by the police. Does he have standing to sue?
      • Yes
      • No
      • I don’t know
    • 10. A new law has been passed that will require banks to routinely send all records of their customers checking accounts to the IRS. A man who doesn’t have a checking account would like to sue so the court will declare the law unconstitutional. Does he have standing to sue?
      • Yes
      • No
      • I don’t know
    • 11. Can take the issue to be resolved by a court but only if…
      • … the issue isn’t
      • ‘ moot’ – involves a pretend (hypothetical, academic, or abstract) situation
      • Can’t ask ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ or ‘what’s the best way to set up a public school’, etc…
      • If a case is moot, the court won’t hear it!
    • 12. A man says he was denied his Sixth Amendment rights to have a lawyer when he was arrested and convicted of burglary. He was released from prison after his sentence was completed last year. Is his case moot?
      • Yes
      • No
      • I don’t know
    • 13. A man is on death row for killing another man. However, he believes the undercover officer violated his 4 th Amendment rights. He wishes to be released due to lack of evidence. Is his case moot?
      • Yes
      • No
      • I don’t know
    • 14. Organization of the Courts
      • Once you know your case will be heard…
      • Can you take your case STRAIGHT to the Supreme Court???
      • How are the Courts organized???
    • 15. Jurisdiction
      • Jurisdiction refers to the authority of a particular court to hear particular cases
      • TYPICALLY – the court that oversees a certain area has JURISDICTION over that area.
      • Can be a complicated issue, but use your common sense and it typically works
        • Federal
        • State
        • Military
    • 16. Structure of the American Judicial System is divided into…
      • Federal
      • State
      Jurisdiction: authority of a court to hear (to try and to decide ) a case Literally means; the power to “say the law”
    • 17. Federal or State Jurisdiction?
      • Jurisdiction refers to the authority of a particular court to hear particular cases.
        • Decide which court would have jurisdiction in each scenario, federal court or state court.
    • 18. A women from New York sues her ex-husband for custody of their child
      • Federal
      • State
      • I don’t know
    • 19. A Massachusetts woman sues a man from Nevada for failure to uphold a purchase agreement
      • Federal
      • State
      • I don’t know
    • 20. A firm from Maine sues a Canadian shipping company for failure to deliver goods
      • Federal
      • State
      • I don’t know
    • 21. A company in Alaska sues a local travel agent for overcharging on airfare to other states.
      • Federal
      • State
      • I don’t know
    • 22. State Courts
      • Most cases in the United States start ( and finish ) here.
      • Cases in State jurisdiction are handled here
      • Each of the 50 states court systems is slightly different
      • Texas’s highest court is called the Texas Supreme Court
    • 23. Federal Courts
      • Country is divided into 12 Courts of Appeal (TX, LA, MS all in 5 th Circuit)
      • Courts of Appeal are divided into 94 District Courts (Texas is divided into 4 regions)
        • 642 judges handle more than 300,000 cases a year
      • They are inferior courts
        • the lower federal courts that function beneath the Supreme Court.
    • 24.  
    • 25. If you don’t like the result of your case you can APPEAL
      • Appeal : a higher court may uphold, overrule, or in some way modify the decision appealed from the lower court
        • The higher court, however, doesn’t always HAVE to hear your case!!!
      • Cases must make their way through the court system before they get to the Supreme Court. Otherwise they are not considered ‘ ripe ’
    • 26. An employee of the IRS was fired. Not believing that he could receive a fair hearing within the agency, he wants to appeal his firing directly to the Supreme Court. Is his case ripe?
      • Yes
      • No
      • I don’t know
    • 27. A publisher wants to appeal the case he last in all lower, as well as the highest court in his state. He believes the law he is being punished under is an unconstitutional violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free speech and press. Is his case ripe?
      • Yes
      • No
      • I don’t know
    • 28. Selection of Judges What would the best way to select a Judge for the job?
    • 29. What do you believe would be the best way to select a judge?
      • An election by the people
      • Selection by the President/Governor
    • 30. Selection of Judges
      • Federal
      • Appointed by the Executive (President)
      • Confirmed by the Senate
      • Are not associated (officially) with any political party
      • Senators from the state judge is appointed to (Federal District Court) usually gets to approve the judge before Senate confirmation
      • State (TX)
      • Elected by citizens
      • (Texas Supreme Court appointed)
      • Are Republican or Democratic (mostly Republican in Texas)
      • Every state is different, however
      ‘ What Makes a Good Justice’ Activity
    • 31. Judges can be…
      • Judicial ‘Activists’
      • Believe that a judge should use his or her position to promote desirable social ends
      • For example, cases involving civil rights or social welfare issues
      • Judicial ‘Restraint’
      • In making judicial decisions, judges should defer to the actions of the executive branches – except in cases where those actions are clearly unconstitutional.
    • 32. BACK TO OUR PROBLEM!
      • It may make it all the way to the Supreme Court. BUT only if…
    • 33. Will your case make it all the way to the Supreme Court???
      • Not all cases that are submitted to the Supreme Court are heard by the court.
      • Most are dismissed by the court.
      • If four justices want to hear the case, the case is heard. This is called the ‘ rule of four .’
    • 34. According to Supreme Court tradition, how many justices must agree to hear a case?
      • None
      • 1
      • 3
      • 4
      • 5
      • All 9
    • 35. Nomination and Confirmation Process
      • Judges are nominated by the President
      • And confirmed by 2/3 rds vote in the Senate
      Was nominated by George W. Bush in 2005, but not confirmed by the Senate Sam Alito Harriet Myers
    • 36. How the Supreme Court Operates
      • In session for part of the year. ( Takes the summer off )
      • Gathers on Mondays and Wednesdays to hear cases and announce decisions.
    • 37. How does the Supreme Court Operate?
      • No witnesses, no jury
        • simply oral testimony from attorneys from both parties
      • Justices can interrupt attorneys at any time to ask questions (which comes out of their total 30 minutes)
        • Justices decide which side has the CONSTUTITIONAL argument – not who’s RIGHT
      • Announces the court’s opinion a few months later
    • 38. When the Supreme Court hears a case:
      • There are no witnesses
      • The Justices can ask questions of the lawyers
      • Each side argues for 30 minutes
      • All of the above are true
    • 39. Opinions of the Court
      • Each justice records an opinion on the case
        • (who won?)(5-4, 6-3, etc…)
      • One justice will write a ‘ majority opinion ’
        • stating why the majority decided why they did
      • A different justice will write a ‘ dissenting opinion ’
        • stating why they disagree with the majority
      • Also, a judge can choose to write a ‘ concurring opinion ’
        • agreeing with the majority, but for different reasons
      Chief Justice John Roberts
    • 40. Thomas Stevens Roberts (Chief Justice) Scalia Alito Ginsberg Souter Breyer Kennedy ‘ Access to the Supreme Court’ Activity
      • 7 were appointed by Republicans
      • 2 were appointed by Democrats
        • Term is for LIFE
        • pay is good, but retirement benefits are better
    • 41. The Supreme Court Decides cases based on:
      • What is right and wrong
      • What is moral and immoral
      • What is constitutional and unconstitutional
      • That the executive branch wants
    • 42. Done!
      • Semester Project
        • Two events tonight!
          • RR City Council
          • John Carter – Speaking
        • MrOsman.com
      • Tests are graded
      • Still need bill information from some people!
    • 43. Federal Courts
      • Known as inferior courts – the lower federal courts that function beneath the Supreme Court.
      • 642 judges handle more than 300,000 cases a year
      • Country divided into 94 District Courts (Texas is divided into 4 regions)
      • Can appeal to Courts of Appeals
      • Country divided into 12 Courts of Appeal (TX, LA, MS all in 5 th Circuit)
    • 44. State Courts
      • Cases in State jurisdiction are handled here
      • Most cases in the United States start ( and finish ) here.
      • Each of the 50 states court systems is slightly different
      • Texas’s highest court is called the Texas Supreme Court
      Appeal : a higher court may uphold, overrule, or in some way modify the decision appealed from the lower court

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