Chapter 16: THE FEDERAL COURTS

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

After studying Chapter 16, you should be able to:

1. Understand the nature of the judicial system.

2. Explain how courts in the United States are organized and the nature of their jurisdiction.

3. Describe the role of judges in the judicial process, including their backgrounds and how they were selected.

4. Discuss Supreme Court policymaking and judicial implementation.

5. Explain the role of the courts in shaping the policy agenda in America.

6. Evaluate how the courts operate in a democratic system and how their activities affect the scope of government.

The following exercises will help you meet these objectives:

Objective 1: Understand the nature of the judicial system.

1. Explain the difference between criminal law and civil law.

Criminal Law:

Civil Law:

2. List three regular participants in the judicial system other than judges.

1.

2.

3.

3. What is meant by "justiciable disputes"?

 

 

Objective 2: Explain how courts in the United States are organized and the nature of their jurisdiction.

1. What are the differences between constitutional courts and legislative courts?

Constitutional Courts:

Legislative Courts:

2. Complete the following table on the structure of the federal judicial system.

 

Court

Number of

Number of

Jurisdiction

Policy

 

Courts

Judges

 

Implications

District

Court

Court of

Appeal

Supreme

Court

3. What is the role of a U. S. attorney?

Objective 3: Describe the role of judges in the judicial process, including their backgrounds and how they were selected.

1. Explain the practice of "senatorial courtesy."

2. Name three conditions in which nominations to the Supreme Court are more likely to run into trouble.

1.

2.

3.

3. Present a demographic profile of the "typical" federal judge.

 

4. List six criteria that have been important in choosing Supreme Court justices over the years.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Objective 4: Discuss Supreme Court policymaking and judicial implementation.

1. What are the four key functions of the solicitor general?

1.

2.

3.

4.

2. What are the functions of amicus curiae briefs?

 

3. What is the difference between a majority opinion, a dissenting opinion, and a concurring opinion?

Majority Opinion:

Dissenting Opinion:

Concurring Opinion:

4. What is the difference between stare decisis and precedent?

Stare Decisis:

Precedent:

5. List and explain the three elements of judicial implementation according to Charles Johnson and Bradley Canon.

1.

 

2.

 

3.

Objective 5: Explain the role of the courts in shaping the policy agenda in America.

1. Explain the principle of judicial review.

2. Complete the following table on public policy and the Supreme Court.

Court

Basic Ideology

Judicial Restraint or

Judicial Activism

Key Cases

Warren Court

 

     

Burger Court

 

     

Rehnquist

Court

 

   

.

Objective 6: Evaluate how the courts operate in a democratic system and how their activities affect the scope of government.

1. In what ways might it be said that courts are not a very democratic institution?

2. Explain the difference between judicial activism and judicial restraint.


Judicial Activism:

Judicial Restraint:

3. Define the terms "political question" and "statutory construction" as they apply to the Supreme Court and give an example of each.

Political Question

 

Statutory Construction

 

KEY TERMS Identify and describe:

Standing to sue class action suits justiciable disputes

amicus curiae briefs original jurisdiction appellate jurisdiction

district courts courts of appeal Supreme Court

senatorial courtesy solicitor general opinion

stare decisis precedent original intent

judicial implementation Marbury v. Madison judicial review

United States v. Nixon judicial restraint judicial activism

political questions statutory construction