AP Gov Unit 4: Supreme Court
Terms in this set (29)
2) Identify anti-federalists' concerns regarding the federal court system and how
the federalists responded (Federalist #78)
See next card
Foundational Doc: Federalist #78
- The executive has the power to enforce, the legislature makes the rules, but the judiciary only has judgement and depends on the executive to enforce this
- Since the judiciary is the weakest branch and is in constant danger of being overpowered, it needs permanent offices
- Independent judges is a safeguard against the "occasional ill humor" in society- political pressure
- The judiciary is a check on the legislature and their oversight makes it more likely that the legislature will create good laws
- If judges weren't for life, the executive would constantly be appointing which would give him a lot of power
- Learning law is a long difficult process and there aren't that many who are qualified for the job
- The judiciary will check the legislature by adhering to the Const, not the will of the legislature
3) Explain why justices (and other federal judges) were given lifetime terms
To make them independent of the political process
4) Know what the "rule of 4" is and how it is applied
If four justices agree to grant the writ, it will be heard
5) Describe what the "dual court system" is and how it functions
It is a separate state and federal court system which operate (mostly) separately and distinctly from each other
US court system
1. 94 district courts for cases involving federal law
2. Appellate courts- review files from lower courts (don't rehear cases)
2. Court of appeals for federal circuit- specialized court dealing with copyright infringements 3. SC
What qualifies as federal law?
Consititutional issues, crimes committed across bornders, national security, those involving gov't $
Describe the state court system
JUDGES ARE ELECTED
1. State trial court- hear criminal cases
2. State Appellate Court
3. State SC
(case can then go to SC if it falls into one of the categories of federal law or heabeas corpus filed)
6) Know what tort law is and how it can be a problem within our judicial system
It is suing for damages to you (property, reputation, person) and can clog the system of superior courts when people sue over ridiculous things
7) Define and describe stare decisis
It means let the decision stand; judges must consider it when they decide a case, and if they decide to overturn it they must address the negative effects of the current situation
8) Know the term for "judge-made" law and how it applies to this unit
One complaint about our judicial system is that judges are making law rather than just determining constitutionality... but every time someone makes a decision, they inevitably change the meaning or nuance of the law and there's no way around it
9) Know what is contained in Article III of the Constitution and what is not
- Judicial power is contained in one supreme court and inferior courts, Congress can establish and regulate. Judges will serve for life as long as they behave well.
- Outlines when SC has appellate and original jurisdiction
- Criminal trials have juries and are held in state where crime committed
- Defines treason and its conviction proceedings
- The SC is the only ct explicitly mentioned?
10) Explain the nomination process (to become a federal judge). Make sure to be
able to define/describe senatorial courtesy and role that plays in the process.
Nominated by POTUS and confirmed by senate (simple majority). POTUS gets list of potential nominees from staff and he picks one.
The Senate Judiciary Committee conducts hearing.
It's hard to get confirmed, esp since starting in 90s nominees are increasingly ideologically extreme and confirmations are increasingly politicized around party ideology. Confirmation process is to 1. prevent unqualified people from becoming judges and 2. prevent unfit characters.
Interest groups weigh in on confirmation process.
After the hearing, it goes to the full Senate and they vote. Need simple majority.
It used to be important (1950s-80s) to preserve some kind of balance on the SC, but not really anymore
What are the qualifications to be a justice or federal judge?
No official ones, but most are usually Ivy League grads, history in law, maybe a state trial court judge/state SC/federal circuit of appeals/law clerk for justice
11) For what judges does senatorial courtesy apply? Be specific.
Applies only to District Court judges.
POTUS asks the senators in the state where the nominee will work how they feel about the person. The Senate won't confirm the nominee if the state senators don't like them bc when that judge makes decisions, the senators will be the ones answering to the complaints.
If only one approves, they will confirm the judge bc it is then clearly a partisan issue.
This idea is not constitutionally necessary, but it is politically.
12) Know the process of how a case gets to the U.S. Supreme Court
Cases are heard at lower courts and they are eventually appealed to the Supreme Court; they get about 8000 requests for review. Writs of certiorari are formal legal documents requesting that SC hears case, amicus curiae briefs are docs by organizations (only kind of "lobbying" that SC sees). The law clerks read all the docs and set aside a few they think the justices would like.The appeals are discussed and about 99% are denied; the acceptend ones go on the docket.
13) Describe the philosophies of judicial activism and judicial restraint
Activism- judges should make bold policy decisions; take into account modern conditions when interpreting Const
Restraint- judges should play minimal policymaking roles; interprest Const in light of original intent
14) Explain the difference between concurring, dissenting, and majority opinions
Majority- opinion of the court
Dissenting- opposing the majority
Concurring- agreeing with majority but stressed a different basis for the judgement
15) Know the 2 instances where the Supreme Court can hear a case using its
1. Cases involving ambassadors or other consuls
2. Those in which a state is party
16) Where does the vast majority of the Supreme Court's caseload come from (its
original or appellate jurisdiction)?
17) Why is federal case law more often established by the U.S. Court of Appeals
rather than the Supreme Court?
The SC receives 1000s of requests for hearings and can only hear less than 100 of them, so the Court of Appeals usually make the decisions
18) What does "remanding a case" mean? How is it relevant to the Court's
Case is sent back to the lower court for further action
19) Know the ways in which one can become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
1. Nominated by POTUS and confirmed by the Senate, having not been on the court previously
2. They are a sitting justice and are reconfirmed as Chief (less common)
20) Know the Constitutional way of increasing the size of the U.S. Supreme Court
(if one would want this to happen).
The number of Justices is set by Congress through passing Judiciary Acts
Article III, Section 1: "The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the
Congress may from time to time ordain and establish
(only 6 justices needed to hear a case)
21) What can Congress do if the Supreme Court finds a federal law unconstitutional?
Congress can still limit the impact of decisions; ex by passing a law that is similar to the law b4 found unconst.
22) What is selective incorporation? How is it relevant to the federal bill of rights?
Using the 14th A's due process clause to gradually apply the BoR to state gov'ts
Are federal judges accountable to the public?
No- lifetime tenure and appointed
Yes- Confirmed by elected senators and interest groups can lobby for/against their nomination
Foundational Doc: The Constitution
Letter from Birmingham Jail