A Conversation on the Constitution with Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor: Judicial Independence: www.annenbergclassroom.org/resource/conversation-constitution-judicial-independence/
Click on the link for study help: quizlet.com/33630632/test
Practice test: http://www.phschool.com/webcodes10/index.cfm?wcprefix=mqa&wcsuffix=5185&area=view
Crash Course Video "Structure of the Court System" (click the link):www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGyx5UEwgtA
Hip Hughes video over the Judicial Branch (click the link): www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG0ZaAVF_i4
The Special Courts
• How can citizens sue the government in the U.S. Court of
• What are the roles of the territorial courts and of the District of
• What functions do the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed
Forces and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
• What types of cases are brought to the U.S. Tax Court?
The Court of Federal Claims and the Territorial Courts
The Court of Federal Claims
• The U.S. Court of Federal Claims handles all pleas against
acts of the United States government.
• Those who have claims against the United States can possibly
secure redress—satisfaction of a claim, usually through
payment—through this court.
The Territorial Courts
• Under its power to govern the territories of the United States,
Congress created courts for the nation’s territories.
• These courts are in places such as Guam and the Virgin
Islands, and function much like the local courts in the 50
The District of Columbia Courts and the U.S. Tax Court
The District of Columbia Courts
• As directed in the Constitution, Congress established a system
of courts for the “Seat of Government of the United States.”
• The District of Columbia handles all local judicial matters for
the district, including trials and appeals.
The United States Tax Court
• The U.S. Tax Court was created by Congress in 1969.
• The Tax Court hears civil but not criminal cases involving
disputes over the application of the tax laws.
• Its decisions may be appealed to the federal courts of appeals.
Military Appeals Courts
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
• This court is a civilian tribunal, a court operating as part of the
judicial branch, entirely separate from the military
• The court reviews the more serious convictions of members of
the armed forces at a court-martial, or trial involving military
The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
• The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims hears cases in
which individuals claim that the Department of Veterans Affairs
has denied or otherwise mishandled valid claims for veterans’
Section 4 Review
1. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims handles
(a) citizens wishing redress from the government.
(b) veterans affairs.
(c) cases heard in the District of Columbia.
(d) cases heard in U.S. territories.
2. A court-martial is a court which tries cases involving
(b) military personnel.
ANSWERS: a / b
Supreme Court video from class (click the link to watch): www.annenbergclassroom.org/page/a-conversation-on-the-origin-nature-and-importance-of-the-supreme-court
The Supreme Court
• What is the concept of judicial review?
• What is the scope of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction?
• How do cases reach the Supreme Court?
• How does the Supreme Court operate?
• Judicial review refers to the power of a court to determine the
constitutionality of a government action.
• The Supreme Court first asserted its power of judicial review in
the case of Marbury v. Madison (1803).
• The Court’s decision laid the foundation for its involvement in
the development of the American system of government.
Supreme Court Jurisdiction
• The Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction.
• The Court has original jurisdiction over cases involving two or
more States and all cases brought against ambassadors or
other public ministers.
• Most cases heard by the Court are appeals cases. The Court
hears only one to two cases in which it has original jurisdiction
How Cases Reach the Supreme Court
Appealing a Case to the Supreme Court
How the Supreme Court Operates
•Once the Supreme Court accepts a case, it sets a date on
which lawyers on both sides will present oral arguments.
•Briefs are written documents filed with the Court before oral
The Court in Conference
•The Chief Justice presides over a closed-door conference in
which justices present their views on the case at hand.
Opinions of the Court
Section 3 Review
1. The Supreme Court has which type of jurisdiction?
(a) only original jurisdiction
(b) only appellate jurisdiction
(c) appellate and original jurisdiction
(d) none of the above
2. The majority opinion of a Supreme Court case is
(a) the decision made on a case by the Court.
(b) written by those justices that voted in favor of a case.
(c) never used as precedent in a court of law.
(d) often authored by the justice holding the least seniority.
ANSWERS: C / A
Video explaining the Supreme Court just click the link: http://sunnylandsclassroom.org/Asset.aspx?id=1254
Marbury v. Madison (video): www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWYFwl93uCM
• What is the structure and jurisdiction of the federal district
• What is the structure and jurisdiction of the federal courts of
• What is the structure and jurisdiction of other constitutional
The District Courts
Federal Judicial Districts
• The 94 federal judicial districts include at least one district in
each State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
• Larger and more populous States are divided into two or more
districts, reflecting the larger amount of judicial work done
District Court Jurisdiction
• District courts have original jurisdiction over most cases that are heard in federal courts.
• The district courts hear a wide range of criminal cases and civil
• A criminal case, in the federal courts, is one in which a
defendant is tried for committing some action that Congress
declared by law to be a federal crime. A federal civil case is
one which involves noncriminal matters.
The Courts of Appeals
Appellate Court Judges
• Altogether, 179 circuit judges sit in the 12 appeals courts.
• A Supreme Court justice is also assigned to each of the
Appellate Court Jurisdiction
• The courts of appeals only have appellate jurisdiction, hearing
cases on appeal from lower federal courts.
Other Constitutional Courts
The Court of International Trade
• The Court of International Trade hears civil cases arising out of
tariff and other trade-related laws.
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
• This appellate court has nationwide jurisdiction and hears
cases from several different courts.
• Most cases heard arise from the U.S. Court of International
Trade, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Court of
Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Which federal court has original jurisdiction over MOST cases heard in federal court?
a. district court
b. court of appeals
c. the Supreme Court
d. the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit differs from the other 12 federal courts of appeals because it
a. does not hear appeals from regulatory agencies.
b. can have original jurisdiction over federal cases.
c. hears cases from across the country.
d. only hears appeals from the Supreme Court.
Which of the following statements does NOT accurately describe federal district courts?
a. They handle both civil and criminal cases.
b. Like courts of appeals, they have the right to listen to appeals.
c. Like the Supreme Court, they can have original jurisdiction.
d. They are the principal trial courts in the federal system.
Answers: A / C / B
1. What did Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution create?
2. What are constitutional courts?
3. What are special courts?
4. Under what circumstances may federal courts hear a case?
5. What is the procedure for the selection of federal judges?
6. What is the primary function of federal judges?
7. How long are the terms of judges of constitutional courts/?
8. How long are the terms of judges in special courts?
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