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Politics of the United States
PLS 101 - CH 9
Terms in this set (202)
Which article of the Constitution outlines the judicial branch of gov't?
What did the Framers believe about the judiciary at the time?
A federal judiciary posed little threat of tyrannt
Where is this found:
"The judicial Power of the United States... in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish."
What does it mean?
Found in Article III, section 1; states that Congress has the choice to create federal courts below the Supreme Court
Jurisdiction (where is it found in the constitution?)
Authority vested in a particular court to hear and decide the issues in a particular case; found in Article III, section 2
What are the two types of jurisdiction?
Original and appellate
The jurisdiction of courts that hear a case first, usually in a trial; these courts determine the facts of a case
In what types of cases does the Supreme Court have original jurisdiction?
Cases involving the state gov'ts or public officials
The power vested in particular courts to review and/or revise the decision of a lower court (cases that have been tried, decided or reexamined in other courts)
What is specified about federal crimes in the Constitution? Where is it found?
All federal crimes (EXCEPT those involving impeachment) shall be tried by jury in the state in which the crime was committed; Article III, section 2
What are the specific types of cases the Supreme Court was given the jurisdiction to hear as specified in the Constitution? Where at in the Constitution?
Article III, section 2; all cases arising under the Constitution and laws or treaties of the U.S.; all cases of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction; cases in which U.S. was a party; controversies between a state and citizens of another state; controversies between 2 or more states; controversies between citizens of different states; controversies between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants in different states; controversies between a state (or citizens thereof) and foreign states (or citizens thereof); all cases affecting ambassadors or other public ministers
Examples of Congress's check on the judiciary branch?
Authority to alter the Court's ability to hear certain kinds of cases; propose constitutional amendments that (if ratified) can effectively reverse judicial decisions; can impeach and remove federal judges; president has power to appoint all federal judges WITH "advise and consent" of the Senate
What is one of the Supreme Court's check on the president?
Presiding over presidential impeachment
Judiciary Act of 1789
Established the basic 3-tiered structure of the federal court system
What are the 3 levels of the federal court system established by the Judiciary Act of 1789?
Bottom is federal district courts (with at least one in each state); second tier is circuit courts (or U.S. Courts of Appeals); third tier is Supreme Court of U.S.
How were circuit courts originally designed? Now?
Originally comprised one district court judge and 2 Supreme Court justices who met as a circuit court 2x/year; now have an exclusively appellate function and focus solely on reviewing the findings of lower courts
Why did the early Court not impress citizens?
Frequent changes in personnel; limited space for operations; no clerical support; no system of reporting its decisions
What did the early Court try to do in its first decade?
Justices attempted to establish the Supreme Court as an independent, nonpolitical branch of gov't (first declined to give George Washington advice on the legality of some of his actions); advance principles of nationalism and to maintain the national gov't's supremacy over the states
Chisholm v. Georgia
Justices interpreted the Court's jurisdiction under Article III, section 2, to include the right to hear suits brought by a citizen against a state in which he did NOT reside
What was the response to the Chisholm v. Georgia decision?
Eleventh Amendment; limits the power of federal courts to hear lawsuits against state governments brought by the citizens of another state or the citizens of a foreign country
Marshall Court discontinued the practice of?
Seriatim opinions ("in a series" opinions); custom of King's Bench in Great Britain; during Marshall's years in office, Court routinely spoke as one
Marshall Court established?
Authority of the Supreme Court over judiciaries of various states AND supremacy of federal gov't and Congress over states gov't's (through McCulloch v. Maryland)
Power of the courts to review acts of other branches of gov't and the states and declare it invalid b/c they violate the Constitution (see Marbury v. Madison)
How can the judicial system in the U.S. be described?
As a dual system consisting of the federal court system and judicial systems of the fifty states
Bottom of the system; court of original jurisdiction where cases begin
Middle tier of court system? Describe.
Appellate courts; court that generally reviews only findings of law made by lower courts
In the federal court system, what are the trial courts (bottom of the system)?
In the federal system, what are the appellate courts (middle of the system)?
Courts of appeals
What is the highest level of court system?
Federal and state court systems
What is the court of last resort?
Federal district courts, court of appeals, and Supreme Court are called? Why?
Constitution (or Article III) courts b/c Article III of the Constitution either established them or authorized Congress to establish them
Legislative courts are set up by?
Congress (under its implied powers); generally for specific purposes
What are legislative courts?
Courts established by Congress for specialized purposes (such as the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims)
Term for judges in legislative courts?
Fixed, 15-year renewable terms
When did Congress create idea f U.S. district courts?
Judiciary Act of 1789
How many federal district courts does each have?
At least one
Which states have 4 federal district courts?
California, Texas, New York
Do district courts cut across state lines?
Federal courts are where?
The bulk of judicial work takes place
Cases heard in federal district courts by a single judge (w/ or w/out a judge) generally fall into one of what 3 categories?
They involve federal gov't as a party; present a federal question based on a claim under the U.S. Constitution, a treaty with another nation, or a federal statute (federal question jurisdiction; can involve criminal or civil law); civil suits in which citizens are from different states and the amount of money at issue is more than $75,000
Each federal judicial district has? Nominated by?
U.S. attorney; nominated by President and confirmed by senate
Do the courts of appeals have original jurisdiction?
What are the two appellate jurisdictions that Congress has granted to the courts of appeals?
Appeals from criminal and civil cases from the district courts
Once a federal court of appeals makes a decision?
a litigant (person involved in a lawsuit) no longer has an automatic right to an appeal
Document containing the legal written arguments in a case filed with a court by a party prior to a hearing or trial
Composition of U.S. Supreme Court?
8 associate judges and one chief justice
Chief justice is nominated by?
President specifically nominates for chief justice position
A prior judicial decision that serves as a rule for settling subsequent cases of a similar nature
In court rulings, a reliance on past decisions or precedents to formulate decisions in new cases
Principle of stare decisis allows for?
Continuity and predictability in our judicial system
Do trial courts have original jurisdiction, appellate jurisdiction, or both?
ONLY original jurisdiction
A practice whereby the Senate will not confirm for a lower federal court judgeship a nominee opposed by the senior senator int he president's party in the nominee's state
What six criteria are especially important in nomination?
Experience; ideology or policy preferences; rewards; pursuit of political support; religion; race; gender
Most presidents seek to appoint individuals who?
Share their policy preferences; to optimize this, most presidents select judges and justices of their own party affiliation and/or who have been active in party politics
In terms of rewards, many of those appointed to the judiciary have been?
Personal friends of presidents
Who has the authority to approve all nominees to the federal bench? Nominations are referred to?
Senate; nominations referred to Senate Judiciary Committee
Senate Judiciary Committee
Investigates the nominees, holds hearings, and votes on its recommendation for Senate action; may reject a nominee or send the nomination to the full Senate for a vote
What vote is required in the Senate for confirmation of a nominee that has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee?
Simple majority vote
American Bar Association
Politically powerful organization that represents the interests of the legal profession
ABA stands for?
American Bar Association
How does the ABA rate each nominee?
Well-Qualified (previously "Highly Qualified"); Qualified; or not Not Qualified (based on his/her qualifications)
How does the Senate Judiciary Committee start their investigation (after the federal nomination is made and sent to the Senate)?
Asking each nominee a complete and lengthy questionnaire detailing previous work, judicial opinions written, judicial philosophy, speeches, and even all interviews ever given to members of the press
Why do most nominees (when in Senate Committee Hearings) decline to answer many of the probing questions?
On the grounds that the issues raised ultimately might come before the courts
Why have nominees for the Supreme Court encountered more opposition than have district court or court of appeals nominees?
Because of the critical role the Supreme Court enjoys in our constitutional system
Over time, has more or less attention been given to Supreme Court nominees? With this?
MORE; and with increased attention comes greater opposition (especially to nominees with controversial views)
The Court's rites and rituals contribute to its mystique and encourage a?
"Cult of the robe"
Does the Supreme Court allow television of its proceedings?
NO; this includes public oral arguments
Can Supreme Court Justices opt not to hear a case?
YES (this is a significant role in policy making)
Writ of certiorari
Request for the Supreme Court (at its discretion) to order up the records of the lower courts for purposes of review
Supreme Court controls its own caseload through?
The certiorari process
All petitions (writs or certiorari) must meet what 2 criteria?
The case must come from a U.S. court of appeals, a court of military appeals, district court, or a state court of last resort; AND the case must involve a federal question, thus the case must present questions of federal constitutional law or involve a federal statute, action, or treaty (the reasons that the Court should accept the case for review and legal argument supporting that position are set out in the petitioner's writ of certiorari)
The clerk of the Court transmits petitions for writs of certiorari first to? Then?
First to the chief justice's office, where his clerks review the petitions, then to the individual justice's offices
Pool participants review their assigned fraction of petitions and share their notes with each other; those cases deemed noteworthy by the justices then make it into the discuss list (prepared by the chief justice's clerks) and are circulated to the chambers of the other justices (all other petitions are dead listed and go no further)
Who speaks first in the conference meetings?
Chief justice speaks first, then the rest of the justices (according to seniority)
Rule of Four
At least four justices vote to hear a case (how the decision process to hear a case ends)
When the Court chooses not to hear a case, it allows?
The decision of the lower court to stand
From what candidates are clerks to justices selected?
At the top of graduating classes of prestigious law schools
Tasks of clerks?
Spend most of their time researching material, reading and summarizing cases, helping justices write opinions, searching secret (arcane) facts, playing tennis/walks with justices; make the first pass through petitions that come to Court (influencing which cases get a second look); often help draft opinions and serve as informal conduits for communication between the justices' chambers
What are some of the cues that determine characteristics of the cases the Court accepts?
Federal gov't is the party asking for review; the case involves conflict among the courts of appeals; presents a civil rights/liberties question; involves ideological or policy preferences of the judges; has significant social or political interest (as evidenced by the presence of interest group amicus curiae briefs)
Amicus curiae briefs
A person or group who is not a party to a lawsuit, but has a strong interest in the matter (and is a "friend of the court"), will petition the court for permission to submit a brief in the action with the intent of influencing the court's decision
What is one of the most important cues for predicting whether the Court will hear a case?
The solicitor general's position
Fourth-ranking member of the Department of Justice appointed by the president who is responsible for handling nearly all appeals on behalf of the U.S. gov't to the Supreme Court
Solicitor general is often called?
The Courts "ninth and a half member" (solicitor general appears as an amicus curiae)
friend of the court
What conflicting roles does the solicitor general often end up playing (due to the close relationship between the Court and the solicitor general)?
Representing in Court BOTH the president's policy interests and the broader interests of the U.S.
Why do justices take cases involving conflicts among the lower courts?
Because when interpretations of constitutional or federal law are involved, justices seem to want consistency throughout the federal court system
What is a quick way for justices to gauge the ideological ramifications of a particular rights or liberties case?
By the nature and amount of interest group participation
What kind of level of participation do most cases heard by the Supreme Court involve?
Interest group participation
Implies that a group has helped to devise the legal strategy, pay the costs of litigation, and shepherd the case through the court system (very costly and time-consuming)
If people don't have the money, time, or interest to sponsor a case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, how do they get it to the Court?
Joining ongoing cases through amicus briefs is a useful way to advance their policy preferences
What is the Supreme Court's annual term? Oral arguments?
Begins the first Monday in October and generally runs through mid-June; justices hear oral arguments from the beginning of the term until early April
What are the two parts of the cycle that alternate with each other, each about 2 weeks long?
Sittings (periods of about two weeks in which cases are heard) alternate with recesses
During the week, when do justices usually hear oral arguments?
Monday through Wednesday
What are the functions of an oral argument?
It is the only opportunity for even a small portion of the public (who may attend the hearings) and the press to observe the workings of the Court; it assures lawyers to focus on arguments believed important by the justices; provides the Court with additional information (especially concerning the Court's broader political role, an issue not usually addressed in written beliefs); oral arguments are a good way for the justices to try to highlight certain issues for other justices
How often do justices meet in closed conference?
Twice a week when the Court is hearing oral arguments
Are other people allowed in the conference session between justices?
Who acts as the doorkeeper?
The justice with the least seniority
Who presides over conferences and makes initial presentation of each case?
Chief justice (this highlights the power and importance of the chief justice)
Which was more formal, the Rehnquist Court or the Roberts Court? How?
Roberts Court; the regular conferences now last longer and discussion is encouraged
Who selects the justice to write the opinion if the chief justice is in the majority?
The chief justice
Who selects the justice to write the opinion if the chief justice is in the minority?
The most senior justice in the majority
How are most decisions reached in the Court?
By a majority opinion written by one member of the Court to reflect the views of at least five justices; this opinion usually sets out the legal reasoning justifying the decision, and this legal reasoning becomes a precedent for deciding future cases (the reasoning behind any decision is often as important as the outcome)
What takes place in the process of creating the final opinion of the Court?
Informal caucusing and negotiation (as justices may hold out for word changes or other modifications as a condition of their continued support of their majority opinion)
What happens if the negotiation process leads to a division in the Court's majority?
The Court may be forced to decide cases by plurality of opinions, which attract the support of 3 or 4 justices
Justices who agree with the outcome of the case but not with the legal rationale for the decision may express their differing approach by filing?
Justices who do not agree with the outcome of a case file?
Principles of stare decisis dictate that?
The justices follow the law of previous cases in deciding cases at hand
What is one of the primary issues concerning judicial decision making?
Judicial philosophy; particularly what is called the activism/restraint debate
A philosophy of judicial decision making that posits courts should allow the decisions of other branches of gov't to stand, even when they offend a judge's own principles (judges adhere closely to statutes and precedents in reaching their decisions)
How do restraintists defend their position of judicial restraint? Consequently?
By asserting that unelected judges make up the federal courts, which renders the judicial branch the least democratic branch of gov't; consequently, the courts should defer policy making to other branches of gov't as much as possible
A philosophy of judicial decision making that posits judges should use their power broadly to further justice (interpret existing laws and precedents loosely and interject their own values in court decisions)
What case do restraintists refer to as a classic example of judicial activism running amok?
Roe v. Wade; they maintain that the Court should have deferred policy making on this sensitive issue to the states or to the elected branches of the federal gov't
Advocates of judicial restraint generally agree that?
Judges should be strict constructionists
An approach to constitutional interpretation that emphasizes interpreting the Constitution as it was originally written and intended by the Framers
Advocates of judicial activism contend that? What do they argue?
Judges should use their power broadly to further justice; argue that it is appropriate for courts to correct injustices committed by other branches of gov't (implicit in this argument is the notion that courts need to protect oppressed minorities)
Liberal activist decisions
Often expanded the rights of political and legal minorities
Conservative activist judges view their positions as?
An opportunity to issue broad rulings that impose their own political beliefs and policies on the country at large
What can act as a check on the power of the Courts?
How do initial rulings on controversial issues influence public opinion in the direction of the Court's opinion?
Advocates of ________ believe that judges should use their power broadly in order to enhance justice rather than adhere too closely to the original intent of the Framers or legislators.
What judicial philosophy emphasizes interpreting the Constitution as the Framers originally intended it?
The Warren Court decided a number of what type of cases? Thus?
Civil rights cases that broadly expanded civil and political rights, thus broadening public understanding of the Court as a policy maker
Rehnquist Court made numerous decisions related to? This caused?
Federalism; caused observers to take note of the Court's ability to referee conflicts between the federal gov't and the states
Roberts Court reversed what general trend?
General trend of the Court's agreement with executive actions during times of war
What are two measures of policy-making power of the Supreme Court?
Declaring federal laws unconstitutional AND the Court's ability to overrule itself
Refers to how and whether judicial decisions are translated into actual public policies affecting more than the immediate parties to the lawsuit
How well a decision is implemented often depends on?
How well crafted or popular it is
The implementation of judicial decisions involves what political scientists call?
An implementing population and a consumer population
Implementing population consists of?
Those people responsible for carrying out a decision (can include lawyers, judges, public officials, police officers and departments, hospital administrators, gov't agencies, corporations)
Consumer population consists of?
Those people who might be directly affected by a decision
What is the first requirement for effective implementation of a judicial decision?
The members of the implementing population show they understand the original decision
What is the second requirement for effective implementation of a judicial decision?
The implementing population must actually follow Court policy
Implementation of judicial decisions is most likely to be smooth if?
A few highly visible public officials (president, governor) shoulder the responsibility of seeing to the task
What is the third requirement for effective implementation of a judicial decision?
For the consumer population to be aware of the rights that a decision grants or denies them
What was the purpose of the Judiciary Act of 1789?
To establish the basic structure of the federal court system
How many district courts does each state have?
Between one and four (at least one)
What is the job of the U.S. attorneys?
They are the chief law enforcement officer for their judicial district
How are federal judges selected?
Nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate
Which of the following statements about those who have served as Supreme Court justices is true?
A. Sonia Sotomayor is the second Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court, but the first Hispanic woman.
B. A minority of the current Supreme Court is Catholic.
C. More women than African Americans have served as Supreme Court justices.
D. There has never been a Jewish member of the Supreme Court.
Which of the following increases the odds that a case will be selected by the Supreme Court?
A. The case presents a taxation issue.
B. A state gov't has brought the appeal
C. The case is non-ideological
D. The case involves a conflict between the courts of appeals
Who is referred to as the Court's "ninth and a half" member?
What is an opinion issued when a Supreme Court justice agrees with the outcome reached by the majority but not with the legal reasoning behind the decision?
If a justice believes that the Department of Indian Affairs has engaged in decades of unjust treatment of American Indians' land claims and broadly interprets the laws and the Constitution so as to correct this injustice and restore land rights to American Indians, that justice is exercising?
Which of the following indicates that the Supreme Court is willing to make public policy?
A. The fact that the Supreme Court has 9 members.
B. The Supreme Court's willingness to overturn its own decisions.
C. The fact that members of the Supreme Court has life tenure
D. The role played by the solicitor general
Which of the following is necessary for effective judicial implementation of a Supreme Court decision?
A. The decision must clearly establish the historical basis for the ruling.
B. It must be a 9-0 decision
C. The decision must not receive too much media coverage.
D. The decision must be clear enough for the implementing population to understand it.
Which of the following statements about judicial review is accurate?
A. Judicial review is a judicial system in which two parties argue their differences in a court of law in a neutral area.
B. Judicial review is the investigation of the federal courts by Congress.
C. Judicial review is derived from a ruling originally issued by the Roberts Court.
D. Judicial review is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
Is judicial review mentioned in the Constitution?
In Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Supreme Court struck down state laws outlawing the use of contraceptives on the basis of privacy rights. The fact that the Court relied on a right to privacy that is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution makes this decision an example of?
Federal judiciary includes?
Supreme Court of the U.S.; courts of appeals; district courts
Supreme Court of the U.S. functions mainly as?
An appellate court
Courts of appeals
With which Chief Justice was there a marked change in the power of the judiciary?
Marbury v. Madison
Established the supremacy of the Constitution and the Supreme Court as its "protector" (judicial review)
Supremacy Clause is located where in the Constitution?
State gov'ts: bound to the Constitution?
YES; according to their own interpretation
Supreme Court outlined national supremacy as?
Imposition of uniformity on federal law
Does the notion of judicial review run in line with democracy and majoritarian rule?
NO (runs counter)
What are the components of judicial review?
Supremacy of national laws or treaties when they conflict with state and local laws; role of Supreme Court as the final authority on the meaning of the Constitution
What kinds of cases do U.S. District Courts deal with?
Criminal cases and civil cases
A case involving a crime or violation of public order (robbing a federally insured bank)
In which court in the federal system do juries hear testimonies?
U.S. District Courts
Is there a jury present in the Supreme Court?
Why were some worried about an abusive judiciary?
Trial location; no jury at Supreme Court; national tyranny
A case involving a private dispute arising from such matters as accidents, contractual obligations, citizens of different states, or local issues
Bottom level of federal court system?
U.S. District courts
Middle level of the federal court system?
U.S. Courts of Appeals
A ruling that serves as the basis for the ruling in a subsequent case
U.S. Courts of Appeals deal with what kinds of cases?
Cases appealed from district courts (review trial court decisions and correct what they consider to be legal errors)
District and Appellate court decisions often produce a?
Use of precedents often leads judges to rule?
Stare decisis (let the decision stand)
Supreme Court must achieve balance among which values?
Freedom; order; equality
What article and section gives the Supreme Court original jurisdiction over "all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a State shall be a party?"
Article III, section 2
an issues covered under the Constitution, federal laws, or national treaties
Litigants in states who hope to use Court's appellate jurisdiction must satisfy what two conditions?
Must reach the end of the line in the state court system; case must raise a federal question
The court's agenda
Does the Supreme Court have control over its docket?
YES (nearly complete control in fact)
Rule of four
An unwritten rule that requires at least 4 justices to agree that a case warrants consideration before it is reviewed by the Supreme Court
3rd highest ranking official of the U.S. Department of Justice who represents the national gov't before the Supreme Court
Times frame when Supreme Court hear oral arguments?
October to April
The question of judicial power centers on the basic issue of?
Supreme Court has been accused of acting more like a ______ in dealing with broad social policies.
Proponents of judicial restraint argue?
Fundamental premise of self-gov't is undermined when judiciary assumes policy fxns; preserves public support (which is necessary for long-term legitimacy)
Proponents of judicial activism support?
Courts taking a generous view of judicial power and interpreting the law
Liberal activism (social justice? Justification? view of the Constitution?)
Social justice depends on activist policies; (liberal activists) justify their position in the U.S. Constitution's strong moral language; view the Constitution as designed to protect individuals from bad gov't w/ the judiciary best suited the branch to afford this protection
Conservative activism focuses?
Congress-state relations and age discrimination; issues concerning the rights of the accused (restricting federal appeals); economic activity
How can a Supreme Court decision declaring a federal law unconstitutional be overturned?
ONLy by amending the Constitution
The judicial decision in a court case
The heart of judicial opinion; the interpretations of the justices
The agreement of a judge with the court's majority decision, for reason OTHER than majority reason
Disagreement of a judge with a majority decision (dissenting opinion)
Dred Scot v. Fitzgerald
Decides that slaves were property and not citizens
Gitlow v. New York
Protected free expression from state action by the 14th Amendment
Gideon v. Wainright
Decided that states must provide an attorney for poor defendants accused of committing felonies
Miranda v. Arizona
Decided that police must inform suspects of their rights when they are arrested
Who officiates the inauguration of the president?
Who serves as Chancellor of the Smithsonian Institute?
Based on what factors do presidents make judicial appointments?
Merit; representativeness; political values
What pressure was placed on President Bush when filling Justice O'Connor's vacancy?
Nominate a woman or minority
Since 1950, what is now a requirement for Supreme Court justices?
Prior judicial experience in lower courts
Approximately how many Supreme Court appointments are not confirmed?
A defendant's admission of guilt in exchange for a less severe punishment
What are the 3 arguments that the Court DOES reflect majority opinion?
Modern Court has shown deference to national laws and policies; Court moves closer to public opinion during periods of crisis; rulings that reflect the public view are subject to fewer changes than rulings that depart from public opinion
Recommended textbook explanations
United States Government: Principles in Practice
Luis Ricardo Fraga
Magruder's American Government
William A. McClenaghan
United States Government: Democracy In Action
Richard C. Remy
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