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Understand judicial review. What did Hamilton think about it?
- the power of the Supreme Court to declare actions of the other branches and levels of govt unconstititutional
- Hamilton believed that the power of judicial review was inherent in the notion of separation of powers and essential to a balanced govt
What is the significance of Marbury vs. Madison?
- Chief Justice John Marshall boldly claimed the power of judicial review for the US Supreme Court
What court is the only court mentioned in the US Constitution?
U.S. Supreme Court
Understand the difference between constitutional and legislative courts.
- constitutional courts are supreme courts because they were created by Congress under Article III which discuss the judicial branch
- legislative courts are courts Congress created to adjudicate cases in highly specialized areas of concern (taxes, maritime) established under Article I
Understand the federal court structure.
three tiered pyramidal system with the Supreme Court at the top. Below it are 13 federal courts of appeal and then 94 district courts with at least one district in each state
What is original jurisdiction?
the authority of a court to be the first to hear a particular kind of case
Understand the difference between grand and petit juries.
- grand jury is a group of citizens who decide whether there is sufficient evidence to bring an indictment against accused person
- petit (trial) juries hear evidence and sit in judgement on charges brought in civil or criminal cases
Understand appellate jurisdiction.
- cases cannot originate in appellate courts, they exist only to hear appeals
- new factual evidence cannot be introduced and no witnesses are called
- lawyers submit briefs
- once appellate decisions are published they become precedents that guide the decisions of other judges in the same circuit
What is stare decisis?
the legal doctrine that says precedent should guide judicial decision making
What type of jurisdiction does the US Supreme Court have?
both original and appellate jurisdiction
What are the qualifications that one must meet to be a judge?
- Constitution offers no advice on what qualifications a federal judge should have
- used to be former lawyers but recently they haven't had any judicial experience
Define senatorial courtesy.
the practice of allowing the senior senator from the president's party to approve nominees from the state where the district court is located
When does the Supreme Court convene?
from the first Monday in October until late June or early July depending on the press of business
Identify the unwritten rules of behavior or the norms.
- secrecy - when meeting to argue and decide cases, the justices meet alone without even secretaries or clerks
- seniority - senior speaks first, etc.
- precedent - they stick close to past rulings
How many justices does it take to grant writ of certiorari?
- an announcement that the Supreme Court will hear a case on appeal from a lower court
- issuance requires the vote of 4 of the 9 judges
How many cases do they hear a year?
80-150 of the 10,000 or so that request
What is an amicus curiae brief?
a brief in which individuals not party to a suit may have their views heard
What factors are most influential in predicting how a justice will vote?
- their ideological predilections
- strategic behavior with trading votes, etc.
- social background
- sense of duty
- none of these are totally true.. all we know is that the justices tend to form relatively stable voting blocs over time
What is the majority opinion? Who writes it?
- the majority opinion is the opinion of the Court
- chief justice usually writes it himself
Describe the periods of the Supreme Court.
- 1) national power and property rights
- 2) govt and the economy (civil war industrial revolution)
- 3) individual rights and liberties
- 4) conservative retrenchment
Understand judicial activism and original intent.
- judicial activism is actions by the courts that purportedly go beyond the role of the judiciary as interpreter of the law and adjudicator of disputes
- aggressive use of judicial review
- reversing the decisions of past supreme courts
- deciding "political" issues
- remedies (the court deciding how to rectify a wrong)
- original intent is the belief that the courts must interpret the Constitution in ways consistent with the intentions of the framers rather than in light of contemporary conditions and needs
What are class action lawsuits?
a suit brought on behalf of a group of people who are in a situation similar to that of the plaintiffs