• What is the structure of the national judiciary?
• What criteria are used to determine the jurisdiction of a federal
• How are federal judges appointed, and what are their terms
• What are the roles of federal court officers?
Creation of a National Judiciary
• The Framers created the national judiciary in Article III of the
• There are two court systems in the United States: the national
judiciary that spans the country, and the courts run by each of
the 50 States.
• The Constitution created the Supreme Court and left Congress
to establish the inferior courts—the lower federal courts. There
are two types of federal courts: (1) constitutional courts and (2)
Types of Federal Courts
The Constitution created only the Supreme Court, giving
Congress the power to create any lower, or “inferior,” courts as
Types of Jurisdiction
Exclusive and Concurrent Jurisdiction
• Some cases can only be heard in federal courts. In that case,
federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction.
• Many cases may be tried in a federal court or a State court. In
such an instance, the federal and State courts have concurrent
Original and Appellate Jurisdiction
• A court in which a case is first heard is said to have original
jurisdiction over that case.
• A court that hears a case on appeal from a lower court has
appellate jurisdiction over that case.
• The Supreme Court exercises both original and appellate
Appointment of Judges
• The power to appoint judges to federal courts falls on the
• The President nominates Supreme Court justices, as well as
federal court judges, who are then subject to the approval of
• Most federal judges are drawn from the ranks of leading
attorneys, legal scholars and law school professors, former
members of Congress, and State courts.
Terms and Pay of Judges
• Judges appointed to the constitutional courts, including the
Supreme Court, are appointed for life.
• Judges of constitutional courts may only be removed by their
own will or through impeachment. Only 13 federal judges have
ever been impeached, and of them, seven were convicted.
• Judges who sit in the special courts are appointed for terms
varying from 4 to 15 years.
• Congress determines salaries for federal judges.
Federal judges have many levels of support in order to fulfill
• United States magistrates are appointed by each federal
district court judge to handle duties ranging from issuing
warrants to setting bail in federal criminal cases.
A Conversation on the Constitution: Judicial Independence (click on the following link) http://sunnylandsclassroom.org/Asset.aspx?id=1074
The court that first hears a case is said to have
a. appellate jurisdiction. c. original jurisdiction.
b. exclusive jurisdiction. d. concurrent jurisdiction.
One weakness of the Articles of Confederation was that
a. it established a dual court system.
b. it did not provide for a national judiciary.
c. Congress could create only a few lower federal courts.
d. the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court was not clearly defined.
The term of office for constitutional court judges is determined by
a. the Constitution. c. the Department of Justice.
b. Congress. d. the President.
Answers: C / B / A