We The People Ch 15
Terms in this set (53)
Civil Law vs. Criminal Law
this is the primary division in classifying different sources of law
spells out the duties that individuals in society owe to other persons or to their governments - Cases between two members of society
has to do with wrongs committed against the public as a whole - cases between a member of society and the government.
Basic Judicial Requirements
courts cannot just decided any issue any time, these act as restraints on the judicial branch from becoming too active and too powerful.
the authority of a court to hear and decide a particular case - this can refer to actual geographic jurisdiction or it can mean issue jurisdiction, whether the particular court has the authority in a certain area
Jurisdiction of State Courts
geographic component to their jurisdiction, as they can only render decisions in their state
Federal Court Jurisdiction
the jurisdictional limits of the federal court are not so much geographically confined (other than just the U.S. territory) but more so defined by the limits that the constitution places on what issues the federal government has jurisdiction over because the constitution does set certain areas that only the state has jurisdiction over
Standing to Sue
All parties to a suit actually have a stake in the issue, they must have suffered some sort of harm, or have been threatened to some form of harm by the action at issue. Federal and state governments can actually include in the laws who can actually bring suit and for what. Basically an individual taxpayer cannot sue the Department of Defense for wastefully spending money
there are extensive rules of procedure that the courts at all levels are expected to abide by, and this often restricts the actions and decisions that the courts can make. Also restrict the actions of judges, and juries by also those party to the case themselves, violations of these can cause fines, being taken into custody, or both.
Organization of the Federal Court System
1. U.S. District Courts
2. U.S. Court of Appeals
3. The United States Supreme Court
U.S. District Courts or Federal trial Courts
The lowest tier of the federal court system
ii. Cases in these courts are decided by a judge or jury
iii. At least one federal district court in every state and one in D.C.
1. Currently there are 94 judicial districts
U.S. Court of Appeals
Try to determine whether the trial court erred in applying the law to the facts of a case
There are 13 federal courts of appeals in the U.S.
These decisions may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court
The United States Supreme Court
Consists of 9 justices (8 justices and 1 Chief Justice) Life terms
The Writ of Certiorari (Cert)
An order from a higher court asking a lower
court for the record of a case
Rule of Four
The Writ of Certiorari
1. An order from a higher court asking a lower court for the record of a case - many different individuals, institutions, or groups can petition the Court to issue a writ of cert. but the decision to do so is entirely up to the Supreme Court. Essentially they decide what cases they take up and which they do not.
2. Rule of Four - this is a standing rule of the Supreme Court that a writ or cert will not be issued unless 4 of the 9 justices want to do
U.S. Supreme Court Today
President (?) ,Sonia Sotomayor (Obama), Stephen G. Bryer (Clinton), Samuel A. Alito (W. Bush), Elena Kegan (Obama); Clarence Thomas (H.W. Bush), Antonin Scalia (Reagan), Chief Justice John Roberts (W. Bush), Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Clinton)
Which Cases Reach the Supreme Court?
over 1000 cases sent to the Supreme Court for consideration, but an average of 100 are heard by the Court. Some things that draw the Court's attention are when there are important policy issues or when there are conflicting rulings by lower courts
Supreme Court Opinions
like appellate courts, the Supreme Court usually does not hear actual evidence; the decision is made on the written record of the lower courts as well as the written arguments (legal briefs) that are presented from both sides' attorneys.
1. Reaching an Opinion
2. Concurring Opinions
3. Dissenting Opinions
Reaching an Opinion
attorneys from both sides also present oral arguments after the justices have met in private conference. During the oral arguments, the justices can also ask clarification questions of the attorneys as well. Once the Court has reached a decision the Court writes their opinion (one justice will write the majority opinion, the most senior justice usually in the majority, of if the chief justice is in the majority they will write the opinion). The opinion outlines the reasons for the Court's decision.
some justices may choose to write their own opinions that agree with the majority opinion but want to explain their own personal reasoning for their decision
some justices may also choose to write a dissenting opinion, detailing their reasoning for disagreeing with the opinion of the Court.
Federal Judicial Appointments
The Nomination Process
i. The president receives suggestions and for potential Supreme Court nominees
ii. After selecting, the president submits his/her name to the Senate for approval
iii. The Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings and makes its recommendation to the Senate, where it takes a majority vote to confirm the nomination.
when a president appoints district court justices, a senator from the president's party has been traditionally allowed to veto the president's appointment, usually the senator from the state of the appointment. In some rare instances senators from the opposing party to the president from the home state of the appointment may be allowed to veto the appointment as well.
plays a role in judicial appointments. Traditionally presidents have tried to make appointments to courts (especially the Supreme Court) that reinforce their political and philosophical views. But after they are appointed they serve life terms, justices do not have the fear of removal by the executive if they do not always align with them.
Court of Appeals
the most active of all courts in the United States, for this reason alone the president's appointments to these courts can have a lasting impact on the judiciary as a whole
Almost 20% of presidential nominations for the Supreme Court have been either rejected or not acted on by the Senate
George W. Bush's Appointments
1. John G. Roberts, Jr. to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist
2. Samuel A. Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor
1. Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice David Souter
2. Elena Kagan to replace Justice John Paul Stevens - was appointed in 2009 by Barack Obama as solicitor general (the person that represents the United States before the Supreme Court should the United States government be a party to a suit
The Court as Policymakers
the Court is meant to interpret and apply the law, not create it (that is the legislature) sometimes the Court has to and does make law..
The Issue of Broad Language
U.S. Constitution is broad (vague)
Court's interpretation essentially is "making the law" for that issue
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
nothing in the constitution mentions that there is a right to privacy for individuals; however, through a series of decisions by the courts this was established because the courts decided that the right to privacy was implied by other parts of the constitution.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
the law itself simply says that employers must provide "reasonable accommodations" but the court has been left to decide what constitutes reasonable and what does not.
The Impact of Court Decisions
Decisions by the Supreme Court have a large impact because lower courts obligated to follow higher court's precedent
Hopwood v. Texas
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided that affirmative action that the University of Texas had used was unconstitutional. The jurisdiction of the Fifth Circuit made this the precedent in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. But in the 2003 set of cases concerning the University of Michigan the U.S. Supreme Court held that these actions were constitutional, because the Supreme Court is higher, the Hopwood decision by the Fifth Circuit Court was invalidated
The Power of Judicial Review
The power of the court to decide on the constitutionality of laws and executive action
Established in Marbury v. Madison
Federalist Paper No. 78
Federalist Paper No. 78
in this paper James Madison argued for the complete independence of federal judges to determine the constitutionality of laws.
Activist versus Restraintist Justices
Activists generally believe they should be more active in checking the legislature and executive, while Restraintists will say that they should exercise more restraint in this matter.
Political Ideology and Judicial Activism/Restraint
because of the Warren Court from 1953 - 1969, judicial activism has been linked to the same as judicial liberalism because this court was seen as active and influential in issues like civil rights, racial segregation and the like. However, judicial activism and restraint does not really adhere to any particular political ideology. In fact, the current court is often seen as one of being active pushing a more conservative ideological agenda
Ideology and the Supreme Court
SCOTUS justices consider many sources: constitutions, laws, agency regulations, etc.
Natural that life experience, personal biases, intellectual abilities, and predispositions will impact their reasoning process
The Roberts Court
1. Seen as generally conservative, particularly with the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito
2. Two Blocs: Conservative (Roberts, Alito, formerly Scalia, and Thomas) and Liberal: (Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Bader-Ginsberg)
3. Justice Kennedy has typically held the "swing" vote - though he does lean more conservatively
The Supreme Court Today
1. Justice Thomas is viewed as a movement conservative (meaning the modern conservative movement likened to Ronald Reagan)
2. Justices Kennedy, Roberts and Alito often "march to their own drummer"
a. Affordable Care Act - Justice Roberts actually sided with the Liberal bloc of justices concerning Obamacare and exercised a stronger commitment to Judicial Restraint than he did his conservative ideology
Interpret the Constitution strictly and not "legislate from the bench"
Look more to the purpose and context of the law - so basically what is the law trying to accomplish and what decision can we make that best accomplishes that goal
Refer to only the actual text of the law
ii. Justice Antonin Scalia - rejects the idea that he is a strict constructionist so he instead believes he is a textualist
Look to the intentions of the Founders (Clarence Thomas mostly adheres to this idea)
ii. Sources would include contemporary writings by the founders, newspaper articles, the Federalist Papers, and notes taken during the Constitutional Convention
Originalism, Textualism, and Modernism
Examine the Constitution in the context of today's society
1. Lawrence v. Texas - An originalists interpretation of the matter would never believe that the Founders intended that criminalizing same-sex relations was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment, however a modernist view would say that the 14th amendment was designed to protect exactly things like that even if the founders would have never thought about this.
Criticisms of the Federal Courts
Some contend that policymaking by unelected judges and justices has upset the balance of powers envisioned by the framers of the Constitution
The Case for the Courts
Interfering with the court's authority violates the Constitution's separation of power
Judicial Traditions and Doctrines
Appropriation of funds
Revision of old laws and/or passing new laws
Public's Regard for the Supreme Court
Court held in high regard
even activist justices still believe that there are, and should be, some restrictions on the actions that the court can take
making the Supreme Court follow most all of its own precedents
Appropriation of funds
courts cannot dictate that the state or federal governments appropriate funds to carry out any of their decisions if they involve the call for some activity, so theoretically they could be stalled
Revision of old laws and/or passing new laws
legislatures can just make new laws that the court finds invalid or unconstitutional, thus really mitigating their decisions somewhat
Polls show that Americans have more trust and confidence in the Supreme Court than they do the President and Congress - and this is not a new phenomenon, it has consistently been this way.
Theories on why the court is held in such high regard: of the US has much higher public opinion ratings than Congress or the President.
1. Fewer members (possibly less corrupt)
2. Know less about them
3. Older and wiser
4. UNIFORM - police, firefighters, doctors, military all have uniform and we respect that. But so do janitors, convicts, etc.
5. Posturing (sit above those before them, legal proceedings and language)
6. Meet in relative secrecy (But, do we really trust things that are secret more than things that are more transparent