The Judicial Branch


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The Judicial Branch

  1. 1. American Government Chapter 14 The Judiciary
  2. 2. The Federal Courts: Least Dangerous Branch or Imperial Judiciary?
  3. 3. Core of the Analysis <ul><li>The Supreme Court's power of judicial review makes it a lawmaking body. </li></ul><ul><li>Judges have political goals and policy preferences. </li></ul><ul><li>The three dominant influences shaping Supreme Court decisions are the philosophies and attitudes of the members of the Court, the solicitor general's control over cases involving the government, and the pattern of cases that come before the Court. </li></ul><ul><li>The role and power of the federal courts, particularly the Supreme Court, have been significantly strengthened and expanded in the last fifty years. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Dispute Resolution <ul><li>The United States is a litigious society, with 25 million cases per year (one for every nine citizens.) </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. citizens are ready to use courts for all purposes. </li></ul><ul><li>Court is a forum for social conflict in which a case's facts are established, punishment is handed out to violators, and compensation is awarded to victims. </li></ul><ul><li>Court is an institution that engages in fact-finding and judgment. </li></ul><ul><li>Courts interpret rules (statutes or judicial principles) to dispose of cases. </li></ul>
  5. 5. table 8.1
  6. 6. Adversarial Process <ul><li>Accused party is innocent until proven guilty </li></ul><ul><li>Accused has right to trial by jury of peers </li></ul><ul><li>Juries bring community values to bear in a trial. </li></ul>
  7. 7. From the Least Dangerous Branch to the Imperial Judiciary? <ul><li>Courts influence our decisions and actions on a daily basis </li></ul><ul><li>The Constitution guarantees the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The right to burn the flag (freedom of speech) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The right to sacrifice animals during a religious ritual (freedom of religion) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minorities cannot be excluded from society (equal protection) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women have a right to an abortion (right to privacy) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Constitutional Basis of Judiciary <ul><li>Article III, Section 1: Judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and inferior courts that Congress may ordain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Judges shall hold their offices during good behavior (for life) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Section 2: Jurisdiction: power shall extend to all cases arising under the Constitution, laws of the United States, treaties made </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Original jurisdiction: cases involving states, ambassadors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Trial by jury </li></ul><ul><li>Section 3: Treason, Proof, and Punishment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conviction on treason requires two witnesses </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Judicial Process <ul><li>Common Law </li></ul><ul><li>Civil law: &quot;private law&quot; involves disputes between citizens or between government and a citizen where no crime is alleged </li></ul><ul><li>Criminal law: arises out of actions that violate laws protecting health, safety, and morals of the community. (mostly in state courts) </li></ul><ul><li>Public law </li></ul><ul><li>Constitutional law </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative law: disputes over statutory authority, jurisdiction, or procedures of administrative agencies. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Original Jurisdiction <ul><li>Courts are responsible for discovering the facts in a controversy in order to create a record upon which a judgment is based. </li></ul><ul><li>Federal Jurisdiction </li></ul><ul><li>Fraction of total cases tried (266,000 out of 25 million) </li></ul><ul><li>Lower Federal Courts </li></ul><ul><li>Trial courts of general jurisdiction </li></ul><ul><li>Grand jury </li></ul><ul><li>Federal agencies are equivalent to lower federal courts. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Appellate Courts <ul><li>10 percent of federal cases </li></ul><ul><li>Consist of more than one judge (usually three) </li></ul><ul><li>Only rule on matters of procedure, no new evidence may be presented </li></ul><ul><li>No cases can originate in Appeals Court </li></ul>
  12. 12. Supreme Court <ul><li>Highest court in the land </li></ul><ul><li>Judicial review is the power and obligation to review any lower court decision where public law is involved. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Established by Marbury v. Madison (1803) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chief Justice John Marshall established and championed this Court power. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Supremacy Clause: federal decisions are superior to the states </li></ul><ul><li>Writ of certiorari : grants cases to be heard at the Supreme Court </li></ul><ul><li>Four justices are required for a writ to be granted </li></ul>
  13. 13. figure 8.1
  14. 14. Character of the Supreme Court <ul><li>The Nine Justices </li></ul><ul><li>Chief Justice William Rehnquist (Nixon/Reagan) </li></ul><ul><li>Stephen G. Breyer (Clinton) </li></ul><ul><li>Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Clinton) </li></ul><ul><li>Anthony Kennedy (Reagan) </li></ul><ul><li>Sandra Day O'Connor (Reagan) </li></ul><ul><li>Anonin Scalia (Reagan) </li></ul><ul><li>David Souter (George H. Bush) </li></ul><ul><li>Clarence Thomas (George H. Bush) </li></ul><ul><li>John Paul Stevens (Ford) </li></ul>
  15. 15. table 8.2
  16. 16. Appointees <ul><li>Appointed by the president </li></ul><ul><li>Generally prominent or politically active members of the legal profession </li></ul><ul><li>Usually suggested by a Senator from a state with vacant seats- Senatorial Courtesy </li></ul><ul><li>Ideological views are similar to the president's views </li></ul>
  17. 17. Influences on Decisions <ul><li>Members themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Politics of the day reflect decisions made (same Constitution) </li></ul><ul><li>Original intent </li></ul><ul><li>Facts </li></ul><ul><li>Judicial activism: Court goes beyond the Constitution to consider broader societal implications of the case </li></ul><ul><li>Judicial restraint: strictly interprets the case according to the Constitution </li></ul><ul><li>A case must have standing to be considered. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Judges are Legal Professionals <ul><li>They draw fixed salaries and benefits that are independent of effort, quality of work, or performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Judges undergo a thorough screening process by the political authorities that nominate and confirm them. </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity for advancement is limited, but judges invest in their jobs by their desire for popularity, prestige, and reputation. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Courts as Coordination Mechanisms <ul><li>Courts serve as coordination mechanisms to prevent legal disputes before they begin. </li></ul><ul><li>Given previous court decisions, private parties can anticipate rulings and coordinate their actions in advance of possible disputes. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: A prospective embezzler may think twice before committing a crime if he understands the court’s response. </li></ul><ul><li>The courts provide incentives and disincentives for specific actions. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Rule Interpretation <ul><li>Rule interpretation is the single most important thing the courts do </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Judges engage in interpretative activity by determining what statutes or judicial principles mean </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpretation is required because laws are not always clear or easily applied to all situations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Courts also interpret the Constitution to determine the laws’ scope and content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Because of this interpretative activity, the courts engage in de facto lawmaking. </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Supreme Court Procedures <ul><li>Preparation: briefs are filed by both sides and interested parties (amici curiae - friends of the court) </li></ul><ul><li>Oral argument: each side presents its case in just thirty minutes </li></ul><ul><li>Conference: justices discuss case and decide </li></ul><ul><li>Opinion writing: assigned by chief justice, opinion sets precedent for future cases </li></ul><ul><li>Dissent: expresses irritation and disagreement with an outcome </li></ul><ul><li>Concurrent opinion- agree with decision but for different reasons </li></ul>
  22. 22. Justice Department (Solicitor General): Third-Ranking Person in the Justice Department <ul><li>Top government lawyer in almost all cases before the appellate courts </li></ul><ul><li>Screens cases before they approach Supreme Court </li></ul><ul><li>Decides which cases the government should ask the Supreme Court to review and what position the government should take before the Supreme Court </li></ul><ul><li>Can submit amicus curiae : friend of the court brief; offers an opinion to the Supreme Court </li></ul>
  23. 23. Limitations on the Courts <ul><li>Courts were constrained by judicial rules of standing to limit access to the bench. </li></ul><ul><li>Courts were limited in type of relief they could provide (only to individuals). </li></ul><ul><li>Courts lacked enforcement powers of their own and relied on executive branch to ensure compliance. </li></ul><ul><li>Federal judges are appointed by the president </li></ul><ul><li>Congress has the power to change size and jurisdiction of the courts </li></ul>
  24. 24. Judicial Revolutions <ul><li>Substantive in judicial policy </li></ul><ul><li>Court was at forefront of sweeping changes in society </li></ul><ul><li>Desegregation, rights of accused, reapportionment </li></ul><ul><li>Changes in judicial procedures </li></ul>