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Chapter 15: Federal Judiciary
Terms in this set (35)
The branch of law that regulates the conduct of individuals, defines crimes, and specifies punishments for conduct. Most criminal law cases are a state matter and take place in state court.
The individual or organization that brings a complaint in court.
The one against whom a complaint is brought.
The branch of law that deals with disputes that do not involve criminal penalties. Such disputes include contract and tort cases. In a contract case, a plaintiff argues that a contract has been violated. In a tort case, a plaintiff argues that they have been injured through negligence or malpractice. Another area of civil law is administrative law, which involves disputes over administrative jurisdiction and procedures.
The principles from a prior case that are used by judges as the basis for their decision in a present case.
Means: "let the decision stand." The doctrine that a previous decision by a court applies as a precedent in similar cases until that decision is overruled. Stare decisis is used by the Supreme Court when interpreting the U.S. Constitution and other cases.
The first court to hear a criminal or civil case.
court of appeals
A court that hears appeals of trial court decisions.
The highest court in the federal court system that acts mainly as an appeals court.
A negotiated agreement in a criminal case in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for a reduced charge.
The sphere of a court's power and authority.
The authority to hear the case first; federal district courts have original jurisdiction. The Supreme Court also has original jurisdiction in specific circumstances.
The authority to hear appeals and review decisions made by lower courts. The federal appeals courts and Supreme Court have appellate jurisdiction.
due process of law
The right of every individual against arbitrary action by government.
writ of habeas corpus
A court order that the individual in custody be brought into court and shown the cause for detention; habeas corpus is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and can only be suspended in cases of rebellion or invasion. It protects individuals from arbitrary imprisonment and is the foundation of due process.
Justice on the Supreme Court who presides over the Court's sessions and is the court's leader. The current Chief Justice is John Roberts.
The practice whereby the president, before nominating a person for a federal judgeship, seeks the approval of that individual's senators.
The power of the courts to review and, if necessary, declare actions of the legislative and executive branches invalid or unconstitutional. An example of checks and balances within the separation of powers.
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Supreme Court decision where the court formally claimed the power of judicial review.
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which states that laws passed by the national government and all treaties are the supreme law of the land and superior to all laws adopted by any state. The supremacy clause gives the Supreme Court the power to review and/or overturn state laws and state court decisions. It also requires state officials and state judges to comply with federal law and federal court decisions.
Judiciary Act of 1789
Law that created the federal district court system and expanded the Supreme Court's power of the states.
Law made through court precedent rather than legislation.
The right of an individual or organization to initiate a court case, on the basis of having a substantial stake in the outcome. In other words, an individual cannot challenge the constitutionality of a law just because they don't like it; they have to demonstrate that the law directly impacts them in order to have "standing." Sometimes a case is rejected by the court because it determines that the plaintiff does not have "standing."
A criterion used by courts to screen cases that no longer require resolution.
writ of certiorari
A decision of least four of the nine Supreme Court justices to review a decision of a lower court. Also referred to as the Rule of Four. It is the process whereby the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case.
The top government lawyer in all cases before the Supreme Court where the government is a party to the case (plaintiff or defendant).
Written documents in which attorneys explain, using case precedents, why the court should find in favor of their client.
amicus curiae brief
"Friend of the court" brief submitted by individuals or organizations who are not a party to the case. These are extra briefs submitted for consideration.
The stage in the Supreme Court procedure in which attorneys for both sides appear before the Court to present their positions and answer questions posed by justices.
The written explanation of the Supreme Court's decision in a particular case. The majority opinion states the reasoning of the court's majority.
The written explanation of a justice in the minority in a particular case.
The written explanation of a justice in the majority that states a different reason for voting with the majority.
Judicial philosophy whose adherents refuse to go beyond the clear words of the U.S. Constitution in interpreting the document's meaning. The position that the Supreme Court should use restraint in deciding controversial issues and/or overturning actions by other branches.
Judicial philosophy that posits that the Supreme Court should go beyond the words of the U.S. Constitution to consider the broader societal implications of its decisions.
Essay written by Alexander Hamilton arguing that the federal courts should have the power of "judicial review" because they have the duty to determine whether acts of Congress are unconstitutional.