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Chapter 16-Federal Courts
Amicus Curiae Briefs
"Friend of the court" briefs by nonlitigants who wish to influence a court's decision by raising additional points of view and information not in the briefs prepared by litigants.
Class Action Suit
Cases which permit a small number of people to sue on behalf of all other people similarly affected.
Courts of Appeal
Courts with the power to review all final decisions of district courts, except in instances requiring direct review by the Supreme Court.
Theory that judges should make bolder policy decisions to alleviate pressing needs, especially for those who are weak politically.
How and whether court decisions are translated into actual policy.
Theory that judges should play minimal role in policymaking and leave policy decisions to the legislature.
The power of courts to hold acts of Congress, and by implication the executive, in violation of the Constitution.
Marbury v Madison
1803 Supreme Court case that established the notion of judicial review.
A statement of legal reasoning behind a decision.
Theory that judges should decide cases in line with the intent of the framers.
Given to a court where a case first is heard.
The way similar cases have been handled in the past is used as a guide in current decisions.
A tradition by which nominations for federal judicial positions are not confirmed when opposed by a senator of the president's party from the state in which the nominee is to serve.
A presidential appointee who is in charge of the appellate court litigation of the federal government.
Standing to Sue
Litigants must have serious interest (potential for sustained direct and substantial injury) from a party in a case.
An earlier decision should hold for the case being considered.
Legislation passed by a legislature to clarify existing law, the clarification, in effect, overturning a court decision.
Ensures uniformity in interpretation of national laws, resolves disputes between states, and maintains the national supremacy of the law.
United States v Nixon
1974 Supreme Court decision that required President Nixon to turn White House tapes over to the courts.