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Lecture 4

PLSC 201 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Amicus Curiae, Commerce Clause, Oil SpillPremium

6 pages46 viewsFall 2017

Department
Political Science
Course Code
PLSC 201
Professor
Huffmon
Lecture
4

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Federal Courts
Very important in the United States because:
Higher la otio of the Costitutio.
Courts interpret the Constitution
o Gained this job because courts are seen as less political
o Courts have become a presidential slogan
Separation of Powers doctrine
Organization of the Federal Court System
Constitution established the Supreme Courts
o Lower court system established by Congress
o Legislated-ly created
1. Lowest Level: Federal District Courts
There are 94 total- at least one in every state
First federal courts to hear cases involving federal issues (in general)
2. Second Level: Circuit Courts of Appeals
There are 13 in all
11 regional,
1 i DC, federal iruit- Nationwide: federal policies
Different regional courts might rule different in federal matters
Different laws apply depending on where you live:
Ex: prayer in school is legal and there may not be prayer led by faculty. But as far
as saying a prayer at a graduation or sporting event, it depends on where you are
(it changes)
Until the Supreme Court rules on it, it can remain the individual districts
choice
If the Supreme Court refuses to take the case, the lower ruling stands
Salisbury: praying in a city council meeting. Goes through same
circuit as great falls lady. Currently going through court system
Cases on appeal from District courts and some state courts
3. Top Level: Supreme Court
Two types of jurisdiction (what kinds of cases you are allowed to hear)
1. Origial Jurisditio: here this ourt is the first ourt to hear that kind of case
This eig the Supreme Court in this situation
Defined in the constitution
When cases go straight to the Supreme Court:
Interstate commerce
Ambassador stuff
2. Appellate Jurisdiction: what kind of cases can be appeal to you
Technically all cases from federal district level and circuit court of appeals can be
appealed to the Supreme Court
Defined by congress because of the above. Congress created the lower court
systems
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Technically automatic (meaning in theory, every case can be appealed all the
way to the Supreme Court) but in reality, the Supreme Court has wide
latitude in deciding which cases to take
(A) Meaning anyone who loses in the lower levels A. can appeal to go
to the Supreme Court but most do not go there
Deciding which cases to take:
Writ of Certiorari: gratig ert.
You lose in circuit court. You ask the supreme court to grant a
cert. (Aka the sa he loer ourt, sed us all the reords of
the loer ase ad that eas there takig the ases)
Four Supreme Court Justices must vote and agree to grant cert.
90-98% of cert requests get rejected, normally 40-70 get
accepted
Most accepted will be ones with clear federal system
Court has 9 members
Set by law: not in constitution
The decision-making process
Court receives briefs
Aius uriae or Aii: fried of the ourt riefs
Come from other people. Anyone can send one
Lobbyists may be interested
Oil spill in gulf: hurts fishing industry. Case against BP from a
group of fishermen goes to the Supreme Court. Might send in
amici: tourist groups, restaurant owners, oil industry lobbyist,
attores geeral, ...et.
Hear the oral arguments
Cameras are not allowed in the Supreme Court
Take one hour total
Divided between two
Private meeting
Traditional rules are to, in this meeting:
Discuss the case in order of seniority (benefit in going first and
being able to lay out the way it will be discussed)
Vote in reverse seniority (benefit in voting last)
Senior Member of the majority vote assigns the opinion (Chief
Justice if he is in the majority)
o Theoretical: BP v Fisherman Bob. Voted that BP wins 5 to
4. But result is not official until the case is published. If one
justice is waffling, assign the opinion to her for her to
publish so that she is forced to study the case more in
depth on the current majority opinion so that she does not
waffle back over. Also called the Marginal Justice
Decision making process
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