The view that jusdges should discern the general principles underlying laws or the Constitution and apply them to modern circumstances.
A brief submitted by a "friend of the court."
A written statement by an attourney that summarizes a case and the laws and rulings that support it.
Class Action Suit
A case brought by someone to help him and all others who are similarly situated.
A signed opinion in which one or more justices agree with the majority's conclusion but for different reasons.
A federal court authorized by Article III of the Constitution that keeps judges in office during good behavior and prevents their salaries from being reduced. They are the Supreme Court (created by the Constitution) and appellate and district courts created by Congress.
Court of Appeals
Federal courts that hear appeals from district courts. No trials.
A signed opinion in which one or more of the justices disagree with the majority view.
The lowest federal courts; federal trials can be held only here.
Cases involving citizens of different states who can bring suit in federal courts.
A doctrine holding that state and federal authorities can prosecute the same person for the same conduct, each authority prosecuting under its own law.
Federal Question Cases
Cases concerning the Constitution, federal laws, or treaties.
A rule that allows a plaintiff to recover costs from the defendant if the plaintiff wins.
In forma pauperis
A method whereby a poor person can have his or her case heard in federal court without charge.
The power of courts to declare acts of the legislature and the executive unconstitutional.
Courts created by Congress for specialized purposes whose judges do not enjoy the protections of Article III of the Constitution.
An examination of the political ideology of a nominated judge.
Opinion of the Court
A signed opinion of a majority of the Supreme Court.
Per Curiam Opinion
A brief and unsigned court opinion.
The party that initiates a lawsuit.
An issue the Supreme Court will allow the executive and legislative branches to decide.
A judicial order enforcing a right or redressing a wrong.
The rule that a citizen cannot sue the government without the government's consent.
A legal rule stating who is authorized to start a lawsuit.
"Let the decision stand," or allowing prior rulings to control the current case.
Strict Constructionist Approach
The view that judges should decide cases strictly on the basis of the language of the laws and the Constitution.
Writ of Certiorari
An order by a higher court directing a lower court to sendup a case for review.