The view that judges should discern the general principles underlying laws or the Constitution and apply them to modern circumstances.
An adviser to the court on some matter of law who is not a party to the case.
The jurisdiction of courts that hear cases brought to them on appeal from lower courts. These courts do not review the factual record, only the legal issues involved.
A pattern of voting behavior of two or more justices.
Body of law dealing with private rights of individuals.
Class Action Suit
A case brought by someone to help him or her and all others who are similarly situated.
An opinion that agrees with the majority in a Supreme Court ruling but differs on the reasoning.
A federal court authorized by Article III of the Constitution that keeps judges in office during good behavior and prevents their salaries from being reduced. They are the Supreme Court (created by the Constitution) and appellate and district courts created by Congress.
The body of law dealing with crimes and their punishment.
Litigation in which a citizen of one state sues a citizen of another state and the amount of money in dispute is more then $50,000.
Dred Scott v. Sanford
Supreme Court case that decided US Congress did not have the power to prohibit slavery in federal territories and slaves, as private property, could not be taken away without due process - basically slaves would remain slaves in non-slave states and slaves could not sue because they were not citizens.
A rule that allows a plaintiff to recover costs from the defendant if the plaintiff wins.
The meeting at which the justices vote on cases that they have recently heard.
In Forma Pauperis
A method whereby a poor person can have his or her case heard in federal court without charge.
The power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and actions of local, state, or national governments unconstitutional.
An examination of the political ideology of a nominated judge.
Per Curiam Opinion
A brief, unsigned opinion issued by the Supreme Court to explain its ruling.
One who brings court action against another.
An issue the Supreme Court will allow the executive and legislative branches decide.
A judicial order enforcing a right or redressing a wrong.
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature.
The right of a state to be free from lawsuit unless it gives permission to the suit. Under the 11th Amendment, all states are considered sovereign.
Authority to bring legal action because one is directly affected by the issues at hand.
The rule of precedent, whereby a rule or law contained in a judicial decision is commonly viewed as binding on judges whenever the same question is presented.
The view that judges should decide cases strictly on the basis of the language of the laws and the Constitution.
Writ of Certiorari
An order by a higher court directing a lower court to send up a case for review.