The Supreme Court


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  • Jeff – president, Madison – secretary of state – refused to seat justices of the peace of D.C. that were signed by John Adams just before leaving office. Adams was a Federalist, Jefferson a Democratic RepublicanJudiciary Act 1789 – How many justices? The Constitution places the power to determine the number of Justices in the hands of Congress. The first Judiciary Act, passed in 1789, set the number of Justices at six, one Chief Justice and five Associates. Over the years Congress has passed various acts to change this number, fluctuating from a low of five to a high of ten. The Judiciary Act of 1869 fixed the number of Justices at nine and no subsequent change to the number of Justices has occurred.
  • sur-shee-uh-rair-ee certiorari
  • California and arizona arguing over rights to water from the colorado river
  • 25% of nominees have not been confirmed (including one of George Washington’s)Sotomayor confirmation hearings Court NomineesConstitution requires only a majority vote of the senate to “advise and consent” to a presidential nominee60 votes required to end a filibusterWise latina woman
  • Oral arguments in healthcare case
  • If the chief justice voted in the majority, he or she assigns someone in the majority to write the opinion. If the CJ holds the minority opinion, the most senior associate justice among the majority assigns a justice to write a majority opinion. Often times, CJ assign the majority opinion to themselves bc decisions impact public policy
  • Video - 23:40- 40
  • The Supreme Court

    1. 1. Who should Interpret the law??Marbury v. Madison (1804)•President Jefferson – let thepeople decide what theConstitution means though theirelected officials•Chief Justice John Marshall – letthe Court decide – they areappointed for life and not partyaffiliated; can rise above partypolitics•Marbury Decision– theSupreme Court can declareacts of Congress
    2. 2. The United States Supreme Court “The Court of Last Resort” Highest court in the land and the ONLY one established by Article III of U.S. Constitution. Term: First Monday October- late June Nine Justices No trials or juries A case goes before the court if four justices agree to hear it. This is called the “rule of four”.
    3. 3. The United States Supreme Court Annual Salary: associate justices $213,900; chief justice $223,500. Constitution prohibits Congress from reducing pay for incumbent justices. A justice may retire and earn his or her final salary for life, plus cost of living increases. Court is ruled by seniority. The Chief Justice is considered the most senior member of the Court, regardless of length of service. Associate Justices are ranked by the length of service. During Court sessions, justices sit according to seniority, with Chief Justice in center, and Associate Justices on alternating sides, with the most senior Associate Justice on the Chief Justices immediate right, and the most junior Associate Justice seated on the left farthest away from the Chief Justice. Each justice is also a "circuit justice" and is assigned to oversee one or more federal judicial circuits.
    4. 4. The Federal Judicial System Article III (Constitutional) Versus Article I (Legislative) CourtsOriginal Jurisdiction Appellate Jurisdiction The authority of a court The authority of a to review decisions court to hear a case made by lower courts“in the first instance”
    5. 5. The United States Supreme CourtPrimarily an appellate court; has original jurisdiction over small number of cases.Three “routes” to the U.S. Supreme Court:1)original jurisdiction over cases involving disputes between states (least common- one-two cases per term).2) cases on appeal from circuit courts- a party files a petition (cert) and justices determine if they will hear it (most common route).3) appeals from state supreme courts- generally on Constitutional issues.
    6. 6. The Eleven U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal
    7. 7. The Supreme Court JusticesBack Row: Sonia Sotomayor , Stephen Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, Elena Kagan,Front Row: Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John G. Roberts, Jr., Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    8. 8. The Supreme Court JusticesElena Kagan 1960 2010 D Harvard Obama Jewish None Solicitor General/Law School DeanSonia Sotomayor 1954 2009 D Yale Obama Roman U.S. Court Assist. District Catholic of Appeals Atty./Corp. law
    9. 9. The Politics of Selecting Judges Previous BackgroundsNumber Job Experience Most Recent Example33 Federal Judges Sonia Sotomayor (2009)22 Practicing Lawyers Lewis F. Powell (1971)18 State Court Judges Sandra Day O’Connor (1981)15 Other Elena Kagan, Solicitor General (2010) 8 Cabinet Members Arthur Goldberg, Labor Sec. (1962) 7 Senators Harold H. Burton, R-Oh (1945) 6 Attorney Generals Tom Clark (1949) 3 Governors Earl Warren, D-Ca (1953) 1 President (POTUS) William Howard Taft (1921)
    10. 10. The Politics of Appointing Federal Judges•Political Litmus Tests•Senate: Advice and Consent•The Role of Party, Race, Age, and Gender•The Role of Ideology and Judicial Experience•The Role of Judicial Philosophy and Law Degrees Activist Conservative Breyer Scalia Liberal Thomas Ginsburg Roberts Alito Sotomayor Kennedy Self-Restraint
    11. 11. Nominating• Nominated by the Prez• Confirmed by the Senate! (Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings first)• Justice Sotomayor‟s Confirmation Hearing in the Senate (clip)
    12. 12. Party Affiliation of District Judges and Courts of Appeal Judges Appointed by PresidentsPresident Party Appointees from Same PartyRoosevelt Democrat 97%Truman Democrat 92Eisenhower Republican 95Kennedy Democrat 92Johnson Democrat 96Nixon Republican 93Ford Republican 81Carter Democrat 90Reagan Republican 94G.H.W. Bush Republican 89Clinton Democrat 88G.W. Bush Republican 93 First woman appointed to the Supreme Court, by Ronald Reagan
    13. 13. How the supreme court works
    14. 14. The Supreme Court’s Increasing Caseload
    15. 15. Caseload in Federal Court
    16. 16. Getting cases to the court• Two ways cases come to the Court: • Writ of certiorari (suhr-shee-uh-RAR- ee) submitted by petitioners – an order from the Court to a lower court to send up the records on a case for review • On appeal – request is made to review a decision of a lower federal or state court; most are denied; lower court ruling becomes final
    17. 17. Solicitor general• Represents the executive branch in cases involving the federal government• Prez expects them to represent the views of the Donald Verrilli (2011) administration
    18. 18. Steps in deciding cases• Once the Court accepts a case: 1. Lawyers on each side submit briefs – written statements that give the legal argument, facts and precedents (past rulings) 2. Amicus curiae – briefs submitted by outsiders (individuals, interest groups, government) who have an interest in the Court‟s ruling 3. Oral arguments – 30 min per side 4. Conference – secret meetings of justices – Wednesday and Friday – they discuss and debate the case; CJ asks each AJ to give his/her opinion in order of seniority; justices vote 5. Writing the opinion – states the facts, announces the Court‟s ruling and explains reasoning
    19. 19. opinions• Majority opinion – expresses views of the majority of justices (sometimes concurring opinions are written by justices who agree for different reasons)• Dissenting opinion – opinion of justices on the losing side of the case (may become majority opinion on a similar issue many years later!!) “A dissent in a court of last resort is an appeal to the brooding spirit of the law, to the intelligence of a future day, when a later decision may possibly correct the error into which the dissenting judge believes the court to have been betrayed”
    20. 20. Why is it important for justices to write their opinions?• Often the process of writing it down makes their decision appear more clear and explainable. Sometimes in the process of writing, justices opinions may change if they realize they cannot justify their decision.
    21. 21. Getting cases to court• Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) – SC ruled unanimously that states are required under the 14th amendment due process clause to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants Clarence Earl Gideon
    22. 22. Court decisionsPeople disagree over HOW the Court shouldexercise judicial review•Judicial restraint – the Court should avoid takingthe initiative on social or political issues; only strikedown acts of Congress if the act clearly violates theConstitution•Judicial activism – the Court should actively helpsettle the difficult social and political questions of theday • Warren Court (1953-69) decided many
    23. 23. How does the roberts court stack up?
    24. 24. Abington School district v. Schempp, 1963
    25. 25. Landmark Cases Jigsaw• Get into your groups from yesterday• Read your assigned case, and complete the chart • What issue was the Court deciding? • Majority/dissenting opinions• HALFWAY THROUGH WE WILL SWITCH AND YOU WILL TEACH OTHERS! Be sure you are comfortable with the material. Ask questions if you‟re confused!!
    26. 26. A question to ponder (for possible bonus points):• There is currently a bill before the North Carolina legislature that give the state the power to establish an official religion.• What TWO AMENDMENTS would make this impossible and WHY????
    27. 27. Dred Scott v. sanford 1857ISSUE:Was Dred Scott a citizen?Was he free because he moved to a free territory?Could Congress prohibit slavery in a territory as condition for admission?DECISION: (2 dissenters)He was NOT a citizen of the US and was still enslavedThe Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional – Congress cannot forbid a state/territory from making slavery legal
    28. 28. Plessy v. ferguson 1896ISSUE:• Were segregation laws constitutional under the 14th amendments equal protection clause? (did they deny life, liberty, property without due process?)COURT‟s DECISION:• Upheld Louisiana‟s “separate but equal” law as constitutional• Jim Crow laws
    29. 29. JIM CROW Come listen all you gals and boys, I’m going to sing a little song, My name is Jim Crow Well about and turn about and do jis so Eb’ry time I weel about I jump Jim Crow Racism in Cartoons
    30. 30. Examples of Jim Crow Laws• In Oklahoma, telephone booths were segregated.• Mississippi had separate soft-drink machines for blacks and whites.• In Atlanta, Georgia, an African American could not “swear to tell the truth” on the same Bible used by white witnesses.• In North Carolina, factories were separated into black and white sections.• In some Alabama towns it was against the law for blacks and whites to play cards, checkers, dominoes, or other games together on athletic teams.
    31. 31. • In Florida, school textbooks for white and black students were segregated in separate warehouses. • In Washington, D.C., black people could not bury their dead dogs or cats in the same pet cemeteries used by whites. Public parks were segregated. Even jails and prisons had separate sections for black prisoners. BACK
    32. 32. Brown v. board of education, 1954 • Issue: • Did separate but equal facilities for blacks and whites violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment?
    33. 33.  Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, KansasFIRST DAY The Supreme Court‟s decision in Brown v. Board of Education integratedthe schools. But today its meaning is at issue. Here, the first day of desegregation, on Sept. 8, 1954, at Fort Myer Elementary School in Fort Myer, Va.
    34. 34. Kenneth Clark‟s “Doll Test” (39)In the experiment Clark showed black children between the ages of six and nine two dolls, one white and one black, and then asked these questions in this order:“Show me the doll that you like best or that you‟d like to play with,”“Show me the doll that is the „nice‟ doll,”“Show me the doll that looks „bad‟,”“Give me the doll that looks like a white child,” •65% said white“Give me the doll that looks like a colored child,” doll was better“Give me the doll that looks like a Negro child,” •70% said black“Give me the doll that looks like you.” doll was bad
    35. 35. Clark‟s Findings**• 16 black children in 1950 in Clarendon County, South Carolina. Of these 63% said the white doll was the nice one, the one they wanted to play with.• Clark also asked children to color a picture of themselves. Most chose a shade of brown markedly lighter than themselves.• **this showed that segregation had detrimental effects on the psychological development of African American children; the study was cited in the Brown case
    36. 36. Brown DECISIONCOURT DECISION• Unanimous decision• Chief Justice Warren – separate schools could NEVER be equal Thurgood Marshall• Segregation = UNCONSTITUTIONAL; violation of 14th Amendment• Precedent – equal means integrated Earl Warren
    37. 37. Mrs. Nettie Hunt and daughter Nikie on the steps of the Supreme Court, 1954.
    38. 38. MIRANDA v. arizona 1966ISSUE:• 5th amendment – you have the right to not incriminate yourself (PLEAD THE FIFTH!)• Under what circumstances are confessions constitutionally admissible in court?Decision (5-4)• Overturned Miranda‟s conviction; suspects are under psychological pressures during arrest and must be warned of their right to not incriminate themselves prior to 21 Jump Street questioning
    39. 39. Dissent: • No historical precedent for the majority decision, feared the decision could weaken law enforcement
    40. 40. Roe v. wade 1973ISSUE:• Is a woman‟s right to obtain an abortion protected by her right to privacy that stems from the 14th amendments due process clause?
    41. 41. • COURT’S DECISION (8-1)• Medical injury, and other psychological injuries could result from an unwanted pregnancy• Right to privacy is not absolute – could still be subject to certain state regulations• Fetus is not a person/protected by the 14th amendment; did no address the question of when life begins• A woman may choose an abortion in the 1st trimester; in the 3rd trimester, regulate or ban abortions, except when a woman‟s life is in danger
    42. 42. An Independent judiciaryExplain the statement, “The Constitution is a livingdocument.” What is the Supreme Court‟s role as it relates tothe Constitution?