U. S. Government: Democracy In Action
The Federal Court System
The Supreme Court was created by the Constitution as a way of balancing the power between the other two branches of government. Chapter 11 explores the powers and responsibilities of the federal courts.
Section 1 deals with the differences in jurisdiction of the federal and state courts. Jurisdiction is the ability to hear certain cases. Federal courts are able to hear cases involving federal laws, treaties, and interpretation of the Constitution. State courts have jurisdiction over cases involving state laws. When cases involve laws from two or more states, then both state and federal courts may hear the case.
Section 2 discusses the organization of the lower federal court system and the duties these courts have. Congress created a network of lower federal courts through the Judiciary Act of 1789. These courts are divided into either constitutional federal courts or legislative federal courts. Key terms introduced include grand jury, indictment, petit jury, judicial circuit, and senatorial courtesy.
Section 3 introduces the Supreme Court, including its powers and the selection process for justices. The Supreme Court stands as one of three equal branches of government and has the final word on all cases involving federal law. There are a total of nine justices on the Supreme Court—one chief justice and eight associate justices. Each justice must be appointed to the Court by the president with Senate approval.