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Lecture 4

PLSC 201 Lecture 4: The Courts and The Supreme Court

6 Pages

Political Science
Course Code
PLSC 201

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Federal Courts Very important in the United States because: Higher law notion of the Constitution. 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 in DC, federal circuit- 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 districts 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. Original Jurisdiction: where this court is the first court to hear that kind of case This being 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 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: granting cert. You lose in circuit court. You ask the supreme court to grant a cert. (Aka they say hey lower court, send us all the records of the lower case and that means theyre taking the cases) 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 Amicus curiae or Amici: friend of the court briefs Come from other people. Anyone can send one Lobbyists may be interested Oil spill in gulf: hurts fishing industry. Case against BP from a
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