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US Government Chapter 18
AP Government Summer Assignment
AP Chapters 1,2
AP Chapter 3
AP Chapter 4
AP Chapter 5
AP Chapter 6
AP Chapter 7
AP Chapter 8
AP Chapter 9
AP Chapter 10
AP Chapter 11
AP Chapter 12
AP Chapter 13
AP Chapter 14
AP Chapter 15
AP Chapter 16
U.S. History Chapters 1, 2, 3
U.S. History Chapter 4
U.S. History Chapter 5
U.S. History Chapter 6
U.S. History Chapter 7
U.S. History Chapter 8
U.S. History Chapter 9
U.S. History Chapter 10
U.S. History Chapter 11
U.S. History Chapter 12
U.S. History Chapter 13
U.S. History Chapter 14
U.S. History Chapters 16,17,18
U.S. History Chapters 19,20,21
U.S. History Chapters 22,23
U.S. History Chapters 24,25
U.S. History Chapters 26,27
U.S. History Chapters 28,29,30
U.S. History Chapter 31
U.S. History Chapter 32
U.S. History Chapter 33
US Government Chapters 1,2
US Government Chapter 3
US Government Chapters 10,11,12
US Government Chapters 13,14
US Government Chapter 18
US Govt Chapters 19,20,21
Remembering 9/11/01
The Civil Rights Movement
Economics Chapters 1,2,3
Eco Chapt 9
Eco Chapters 6,7,8
Eco Chapt 13
Eco Chapter 15
Eco Chapt 21

The Federal Court System

The Supreme Court

Chapter 18

The Federal Court System



The Judicial Branch - Courts


Originally thought to strengthen the new federal government which was weak under the Articles of Confederation.


New government needed a high court to interpret and apply the law.


Dual Court System

Article III created the Supreme Court


-Congress created the lower federal courts (Judiciary Act of 1789)


Two types of Federal Courts


a) Constitutional Courts- federal courts created under Article III,

Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of International Trade, District Courts


b) Special Courts- do not exercise broad judicial power of the United States.  They are a narrower range.

Court of Military Appeals, Claims Court, Tax Court, Territorial Courts, Courts of District of Columbia


Constitutional Courts


Jurisdiction-the power to say the law


Subject matter

a)  any federal statute or provision of the Constitution

b)  maritime law


Federal Courts hear cases involving

1)         the U.S. or an official

2)        Ambassador or consul to foreign government or its representative

3)         State v State (11th Amendment)

4)         citizens of one state suing another

5)         American citizen suing a foreign government or one of its subjects

6)         Land grants


exclusive jurisdiction- cases can only be heard in a Federal Court


concurrent jurisdiction - where cases can be tried in both courts

eg. cases that can be tried on state level.









District Courts

563 judges handle 300,000 cases per year (90% case load)


91 District Courts were created by Congress in 1789.



-50 states - 89 judicial districts

 - 1 court in D.C.

 - 1 court in Puerto Rico




Appeals Court - created in 1891


12 Courts of Appeals(circuits)


11 Judicial circuits - 50 states

1 - District of Columbia


The decisions heard in these courts are final.


They also hear cases for the Court of International Trade, and the US Claims Court.


At the State Level:


Plaintiff - files a suit in court


Defendant - may move it to the Federal Level.


Grand Jury - hears evidence and decides if there is enough to indict


Petit Jury - actual trial by Jury





The Supreme Court - stands as the last resort in answering any questions and all questions involving Federal Law and the Constitution.

The Final Authority.



The President appoints all federal judges subject to the confirmation of the Senate.


Term - Judges of Constitutional Courts are appointed for life, removed only through the impeachment process.









Power of Judicial Review

Marbury v Madison (1803)


Marbury sought a writ of mandamus, forcing James Madison to deliver his appointment.


Result -

Marshalls 3 principles were established


1) The Constitution is the Supreme law of the land.


2) legislative enactments are subordinate


3) Judges are sworn at all cost to uphold the law.




The Court has both appellate and original jurisdiction.


1) hears controversies between 2 or more states

2) all cases against ambassadors and public ministers



4-5000 cases reach the court each year but only 150 cases are heard


They are returned REMAND to the lower courts for reconsideration.


Cases may reach through

1) appeal - petition by a party asking the court to review a lower courts decision


2) certiorari - the Supreme Court directs the lower court to send up records of a case because of an error.  Writ of Certiorari


3) certification - when the lower court is not clear on law and asks for help.


Court is in session 9 months a year

6 justices make up a quorum



Majority Opinion - a majority decision.  A justice writes for the majority.  8-1, 7-2.


Dissenting Opinion - The justice(s) who do not agree with the majority offer their reasons.




Concurring Opinion - Justices who agree with a decision but for different reasons



Special Courts


The US Claims Court - the government cannot be sued without its consent

(sovereign immunity)

function is to hear claims against the US Government

16 judges are appointed by the President and Senate for 15 year terms

Territorial Courts-  courts created by Congress for the nation's territories,  Virgin Islands, Guam, North Mariana Islands


District of Columbia- has both a Federal District and an Appellate District Court.


Military Court of Appeals- 1 Chief Judge, 2 associates, appointed for 15 year terms.  Court Martial, serious convictions.


US Tax Court- hears tax cases involving tax laws.  12 year terms.





Court Officers- Each Federal Court (91) has a Magistrate, a court officer who handles a number of legal matters once dealt with by the judges themselves.  They : issue warrants, hear evidence that decides grand jury presentation; set bail in federal criminal cases; try minor offenses


Bankruptcy Judge - for each federal judicial district.


US Attorney - their assistants are responsible for prosecution of all persons charged with Federal Crimes

-They represent the US in all civil actions brought by or against the government in their district.


US Marshall - serves each district court.  They are appointed for 4 year terms.  They make arrests, serve papers, and keep courtroom order and execute court orders.

They serve the Attorney General and are officials of the Department of Justice





The Department of Justice

Headed by the Attorney General

About 73,500 employees


Its function is to provide legal advice to the President and the heads of the vast executive department.


-Represents the US in court-

(suits v US)

-Handles Anti-Trust violations

-US Property cases

(land grants, acquisitions)

-Tax Division

-Civil Rights Division-discrimination

-Immigration and Naturalization Service(administers and enforces immigration laws)

-FBI  - Involving Federal violations and Federal Criminal Law

-DEA - Federal Narcotics Violations

- Bureau of Prisons - Penal System