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    which article of the constitution created the federal judiciary?


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    The Judicial Branch

    Article III of the Constitution of the United States guarantees that every person accused of wrongdoing has the right to a fair trial before a competent judge and a jury of one's peers.


    The Judicial Branch

    Article III of the Constitution of the United States guarantees that every person accused of wrongdoing has the right to a fair trial before a competent judge and a jury of one's peers


    Where the executive and legislative branches are elected by the people, members of the Judicial Branch are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

    Article III of the Constitution, which establishes the Judicial Branch, leaves Congress significant discretion to determine the shape and structure of the federal judiciary. Even the number of Supreme Court Justices is left to Congress — at times there have been as few as six, while the current number (nine, with one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices) has only been in place since 1869. The Constitution also grants Congress the power to establish courts inferior to the Supreme Court, and to that end Congress has established the United States district courts, which try most federal cases, and 13 United States courts of appeals, which review appealed district court cases.

    Federal judges can only be removed through impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate. Judges and Justices serve no fixed term — they serve until their death, retirement, or conviction by the Senate. By design, this insulates them from the temporary passions of the public, and allows them to apply the law with only justice in mind, and not electoral or political concerns.

    Generally, Congress determines the jurisdiction of the federal courts. In some cases, however — such as in the example of a dispute between two or more U.S. states — the Constitution grants the Supreme Court original jurisdiction, an authority that cannot be stripped by Congress.

    The courts only try actual cases and controversies — a party must show that it has been harmed in order to bring suit in court. This means that the courts do not issue advisory opinions on the constitutionality of laws or the legality of actions if the ruling would have no practical effect. Cases brought before the judiciary typically proceed from district court to appellate court and may even end at the Supreme Court, although the Supreme Court hears comparatively few cases each year.

    Federal courts enjoy the sole power to interpret the law, determine the constitutionality of the law, and apply it to individual cases. The courts, like Congress, can compel the production of evidence and testimony through the use of a subpoena. The inferior courts are constrained by the decisions of the Supreme Court — once the Supreme Court interprets a law, inferior courts must apply the Supreme Court’s interpretation to the facts of a particular case.

    The Supreme Court of the United States

    The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the land and the only part of the federal judiciary specifically required by the Constitution.

    The Constitution does not stipulate the number of Supreme Court Justices; the number is set instead by Congress. There have been as few as six, but since 1869 there have been nine Justices, including one Chief Justice. All Justices are nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and hold their offices under life tenure. Since Justices do not have to run or campaign for re-election, they are thought to be insulated from political pressure when deciding cases. Justices may remain in office until they resign, pass away, or are impeached and convicted by Congress.

    The Court’s caseload is almost entirely appellate in nature, and the Court’s decisions cannot be appealed to any authority, as it is the final judicial arbiter in the United States on matters of federal law. However, the Court may consider appeals from the highest state courts or from federal appellate courts. The Court also has original jurisdiction over limited types of cases, including those involving ambassadors and other diplomats, and in cases between states.

    Although the Supreme Court may hear an appeal on any question of law provided it has jurisdiction, it usually does not hold trials. Instead, the Court’s task is to interpret the meaning of a law, to decide whether a law is relevant to a particular set of facts, or to rule on how a law should be applied. Lower courts are obligated to follow the precedent set by the Supreme Court when rendering decisions.

    In almost all instances, the Supreme Court does not hear appeals as a matter of right; instead, parties must petition the Court for a writ of certiorari. It is the Court’s custom and practice to “grant cert” if four of the nine Justices decide that they should hear the case. Of the approximately 7,500 requests for certiorari filed each year, the Court usually grants cert to fewer than 150. These are typically cases that the Court considers sufficiently important to require their review; a common example is the occasion when two or more of the federal courts of appeals have ruled differently on the same question of federal law.

    If the Court grants certiorari, Justices accept legal briefs from the parties to the case, as well as from amicus curiae, or “friends of the court.” These can include industry trade groups, academics, or even the U.S. government itself. Before issuing a ruling, the Supreme Court usually hears oral arguments, where the various parties to the suit present their arguments and the Justices ask them questions. If the case involves the federal government, the Solicitor General of the United States presents arguments on behalf of the United States. The Justices then hold private conferences, make their decision, and (often after a period of several months) issue the Court’s opinion, along with any dissenting arguments that may have been written.

    Source : www.whitehouse.gov

    Interpretation: Article III, Section One



    by Richard W. Garnett

    Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School; Concurrent Professor of Political Science the University of Notre Dame; Founder and Director of the Church, State & Society Program at the University Notre Dame

    by David A. Strauss

    Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Jenner & Block Supreme Court and Appellate Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School

    Article III of the Constitution establishes and empowers the judicial branch of the national government. The very first sentence of Article III says: “The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” So the Constitution itself says that we will have a Supreme Court, and that this Court is separate from both the legislature (Congress) and the executive (the President). It is up to Congress to decide what other federal courts we will have. But one of the first things Congress did in 1789, the year the new government got going, was to set up a federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court—with six Justices. Today, we have a three-level federal court system—trial courts, courts of appeals, and the Supreme Court—with about 800 federal judges. All those judges, and the Justices of the Supreme Court, are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

    Why did the Framers guarantee that we would have a Supreme Court (unless the Constitution was amended—a very difficult thing to do) but leave open the possibility that there would be no other federal courts, depending on what the politicians in Congress decided? The answer tells us something about the debates at the time the Constitution was written. To some people in the United States at that time, the federal government seemed almost like a foreign government. Those people’s main loyalty was to their states; the federal government was far away, and they did not feel that they had much of a say in who ran it. If you thought that way, an extensive system of federal courts, staffed by judges who were appointed by the President and who might not have a lot of connections to the state and its government, amounted to allowing the “foreign,” federal government to get its tentacles into every corner of the nation. Other Framers, though, thought that the federal government could not be effective unless it had courts to help enforce its laws. If everything were left up to state courts, states that were hostile to the new federal government might thwart it at every turn.

    The compromise was that, just as the Constitution and federal laws would be the “supreme Law of the Land,” there would definitely be a Supreme Court—so a court created by the federal government, with judges appointed by the President, would get the last word, in case state courts did something that was too threatening to the new nation. But the extent and shape of the rest of the federal court system—the degree to which the federal government would be present around the nation—would get hashed out in day-to-day politics. The result is the large and powerful federal judiciary we have today.

    The second sentence of Article III, Section 1, says: “The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.” It’s pretty clear what’s going on here: this provision is designed to make sure that the judges are independent. They can decide cases according to what they think the law requires, without worrying about whether some powerful person—or even a majority of the people—will object. As Alexander Hamilton put it in The Federalist No. 78, judicial independence “is the best expedient which can be devised in any government to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.”

    The language about “holding offices during good behaviour” has been interpreted to mean that the only way federal judges can be removed from office is if the House of Representatives impeaches them, and the Senate convicts them, of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Only fifteen judges have ever been impeached (that is, formally accused by the House of Representatives) and only eight have been convicted and removed from office. For practical purposes, any judge who does not commit a crime (or do something equally bad) has “lifetime tenure” and will stay in office until he or she dies or voluntarily steps down. And, as the provision says, Congress and the President cannot retaliate against judges by cutting their salaries.

    Most state court judges—unlike federal judges—are elected, not appointed; and some have to be re-elected, or approved by the voters, every few years. Those systems of elected judges are often criticized just because, unlike the federal system, judges might think they have to do politically popular things, or build up political connections, in order to keep their jobs, even if that means ruling in a way that doesn’t follow the law. Very few people think that federal judges should be elected. There are, though, some critics of lifetime tenure: those critics say that lifetime tenure causes judges to stay in their positions longer than they should—after they have become too old to do their job well, either just because of age or because they are out of touch with modern times. Maybe, these critics say, judges should be appointed for a fixed term of years—say 14 or 18 years—with no chance of being reappointed. They still couldn’t be fired and, since they would have to leave at the end of their term, they would have no reason to shape their rulings in a way that pleases powerful figures or popular opinion. But a change like this would almost certainly require a constitutional amendment, and the chance of its happening is extremely small.

    Source : constitutioncenter.org

    Federal Judiciary Act (1789)

    EnlargeDownload Link Engrossed Judiciary Act, September 24, 1789; First Congress; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives. View All Pages in the National Archives Catalog View Transcript One of the first acts of the new Congress was to establish a Federal court system through the Judiciary Act signed by

    Federal Judiciary Act (1789)

    EnlargeDownload Link

    Engrossed Judiciary Act, September 24, 1789; First Congress; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives.

    View All Pages in the National Archives Catalog

    View Transcript

    One of the first acts of the new Congress was to establish a Federal court system through the Judiciary Act signed by President Washington on September 24, 1789.

    The founders of the new nation believed that the establishment of a national judiciary was one of their most important tasks. Yet Article III of the Constitution of the United States, the provision that deals with the judiciary branch of government, is markedly smaller than Articles I and II, which created the legislative and executive branches.

    The generality of Article III of the Constitution raised questions that Congress had to address in the Judiciary Act of 1789. These questions had no easy answers, and the solutions to them were achieved politically. The First Congress decided that it could regulate the jurisdiction of all Federal courts, and in the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress established with great particularity a limited jurisdiction for the district and circuit courts, gave the Supreme Court the original jurisdiction provided for in the Constitution, and granted the Court appellate jurisdiction in cases from the Federal circuit courts and from the state courts where those courts rulings had rejected Federal claims. The decision to grant Federal courts a jurisdiction more restrictive than that allowed by the Constitution represented a recognition by the Congress that the people of the United States would not find a full-blown Federal court system palatable at that time.

    For nearly all of the next century the judicial system remained essentially as established by the Judiciary Act of 1789. Only after the country had expanded across a continent and had been torn apart by civil war were major changes made. A separate tier of appellate circuit courts created in 1891 removed the burden of circuit riding from the shoulders of the Supreme Court justices, but otherwise left intact the judicial structure.

    With minor adjustments, it is the same system we have today. Congress has continued to build on the interpretation of the drafters of the first judiciary act in exercising a discretionary power to expand or restrict Federal court jurisdiction. While opinions as to what constitutes the proper balance of Federal and state concerns vary no less today than they did two centuries ago, the fact that today’s Federal court system closely resembles the one created in 1789 suggests that the First Congress performed its job admirably.

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    Congress of the United States,

    begun and held at the City of New York on

    Wednesday the fourth of March one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

    An Act to establish the Judicial Courts of the United States.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the supreme court of the United States shall consist of a chief justice and five associate justices, any four of whom shall be a quorum, and shall hold annually at the seat of government two sessions, the one commencing the first Monday of February, and the other the first Monday of August. That the associate justices shall have precedence according to the date of their commissions, or when the commissions of two or more of them bear date on the same day, according to their respective ages.

    And be it further enacted, That the United States shall be, and they hereby are divided into thirteen districts, to be limited and called as follows, to wit: one to consist of that part of the State of Massachusetts which lies easterly of the State of New Hampshire, and to be called Maine District; one to consist of the State of New Hampshire, and to be called New Hampshire District; one to consist of the remaining part of the State of Massachusetts, and to be called Massachusetts district; one to consist of the State of Connecticut, and to be called Connecticut District; one to consist of the State of New York, and to be called New York District; one to consist of the State of New Jersey, and to be called New Jersey District; one to consist of the State of Pennsylvania, and to be called Pennsylvania District; one to consist of the State of Delaware, and to be called Delaware District; one to consist of the State of Maryland, and to be called Maryland District; one to consist of the State of Virginia, except that part called the District of Kentucky, and to be called Virginia District; one to consist of the remaining part of the State of Virginia, and to be called Kentucky District; one to consist of the State of South Carolina, and to be called South Carolina District; and one to consist of the State of Georgia, and to be called Georgia District.

    Source : www.archives.gov

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