The Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court

  1. 1. The Supreme Court
  2. 2. Background <ul><li>Only court specifically created by the Constitution </li></ul><ul><li>Made up of nine justices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One chief Justice established by the Constitution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Eight associate justices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Congress establishes how many associates there are </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There have been anywhere from six to ten associates </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The current number of eight was established in 1869 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>On equal grounds with the executive and legislative branches </li></ul><ul><li>Final authority on the Constitution </li></ul>
  3. 3. Judicial Review <ul><li>The power of the court to decide on the Constitutionality of a governmental decision </li></ul><ul><li>Established by Marbury v. Madison, 1803 </li></ul>
  4. 4. Marbury v. Madison <ul><li>John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were involved in a heated election </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jefferson won </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Before President John Adams left his presidency, he passed the Judiciary Act of 1801 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Created 16 new federal judge positions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Appointed judges from his own party to serve in these positions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Called “Midnight Judges” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Marbury v. Madison <ul><li>John Marshall: Chief Justice appointed by Adams </li></ul><ul><li>Marbury was one of Adams’ “midnight judges” </li></ul><ul><li>Marbury’s papers were not delivered prior to Jefferson taking over </li></ul><ul><li>Jefferson ordered Marbury’s papers to be held </li></ul><ul><li>Jefferson wanted to appoint a Republican to the job </li></ul><ul><li>Marbury went to the Supreme Court asking them to order that his papers be delivered </li></ul>
  6. 6. Marbury v. Madison <ul><li>Marshall ordered that the Supreme Court had no power in the case because it was not its jurisdiction </li></ul><ul><li>This decision declared a previous act of Congress unconstitutional </li></ul><ul><li>Established the Court’s right of Judicial Review </li></ul><ul><li>The Court has the final say on what the Constitution means </li></ul><ul><li>One of the most important principles of our legal system today </li></ul>
  7. 7. How a Case Reaches the Court <ul><li>Over 8,000 cases are appealed to the Supreme Court each year </li></ul><ul><li>Only a few hundred are accepted </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Four Justices have to agree to hear the case </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most of the time the lower courts have ruled correctly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over ½ of these are disposed of in “brief orders” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Court doesn’t hear arguments for the case </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Simply orders a lower court to revisit the issue based on a specific fact </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Generally the cases involve a serious constitutional question </li></ul>
  8. 8. How the Court Operates <ul><li>The court operates from the first Monday in October until the following June or July </li></ul><ul><li>The court will hear a number of cases during a two week period </li></ul><ul><li>It will then recess (break) for two weeks to consider the cases </li></ul><ul><li>Briefs are filed by both sides </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Detailed statements that support your case </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually hundreds of pages long </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friend of the Court Briefs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Submitted by people not directly involved in the case, but have an interest in its outcome </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. How the Court Operates <ul><li>Oral Arguments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Given by a lawyer from each side of the case </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Given on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually limited to 30 minutes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No witnesses or cross examinations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conference </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Convenes on Wednesdays and Fridays </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All Justices meet under strict secrecy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chief Justice opens the meeting and says how he plans to vote </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All other justices give their opinions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The justices debate the case </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Supreme Court Opinions <ul><li>Majority Opinion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Written by one Justice on the majority side </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Announces the court’s decision in a case </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explains how this decision was reached </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Concurring Opinion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not always included </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Written by justices on the majority side </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adds or emphasizes a point </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dissenting Opinion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Written by justices who do not agree with the court’s decision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If the court decides to reverse its decision, the dissenting opinion becomes very important </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Effects of Court Decisions
  12. 12. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) <ul><li>Separate public facilities for blacks and whites is OK as long as they are equal </li></ul><ul><li>Caused “Jim Crow Laws” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal segregation </li></ul></ul>
  13. 20. NAACP <ul><li>National Association for the Advancement of Colored People </li></ul><ul><li>Lead by an attorney named Thurgood Marshall </li></ul><ul><li>Marshall won 29 out of 32 major cases </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Disassembled Plessy piece by piece </li></ul></ul>
  14. 21. NAACP Legal Victories <ul><li>Norris v. Alabama (1935) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exclusion of African Americans from juries violated their constitutional rights </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Morgan v. Virginia (1946) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Segregation on interstate buses was unconstitutional </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sweatt v. Painter (1950) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State law schools had to admit qualified black applicants </li></ul></ul>
  15. 22. Brown v. Board of Education (1956) Background <ul><li>Linda Brown </li></ul><ul><ul><li>African-American girl </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Denied admission to her neighborhood school in Topeka, KS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Told to go to an all black school across town </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Her parents sued, with the help of the NAACP </li></ul></ul>
  16. 23. Brown v. Board of Education (1956) <ul><li>Supreme Court ruled that segregation in schools is unconstitutional </li></ul><ul><li>Unanimous verdict </li></ul><ul><li>“ Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” – Chief Justice Earl Warren </li></ul><ul><li>Affected 12 million school children in 12 states </li></ul><ul><li>Most districts were immediately integrated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Except where the blacks were the majority </li></ul></ul>

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