Chapter 14The Federal Judicial System: Applying the LawChapter OutlineI.The Federal Judicial System A.The Supreme Court of the United States 1.Selecting and Deciding Cases 2.Issuing Decisions and Opinions B.Other Federal Courts 1.U.S. District Courts 2.U.S. Courts of Appeals 3.Special U.S. Courts C.The State Courts II.Federal Court Appointees A.Supreme Court Nominees B.Lower-Court NomineesC.Personal Backgrounds of Judicial Appointees III.The Nature of Judicial Decision Making A.Legal Influences on Judicial Decisions B.Political Influences on Judicial Decisions 1.Inside the Court: Judges’ Political Beliefs2.Outside the Court: The Public, Groups, and Elected Officials IV.Judicial Power and Democratic GovernmentA.Originalism Theory vs. Living Constitution TheoryB.Judicial Restraint vs. Judicial ActivismC.What Is the Judiciary’s Proper Role?Learning ObjectivesHaving read the chapter, you should be able to do each of the following:.Discuss the criteria underlying the Supreme Court’s selection of cases, and describe the procedures employed in case selection..Describe the Supreme Court’s policymaking process, and discuss the effect of this process on the related issues of legitimacy and compliance..Detail the structure of the federal court system, and describe the purpose and operating procedures of U.S. district courts, courts of appeals, and other special courts..Distinguish between the federal and state court systems, indicating the conditions under which a case originating in a state court can be appealed to the federal courts; and differentiate further between trial and appellate courts..Explain the process of appointments of judges and justices to federal courts, and detail the factors that can influence this process. SG – 14 | 1
.Discuss the role of partisan politics in the appointment of federal judges and justices, particularly at the Supreme Court level, and discuss the impact that appointments can have on long-term judicial policy..Provide an account of the political factors both inside and outside the Court that influencethe decision-making of the justices..Describe the constraints on judicial decision-making and the role of legal precedents on judicial interpretation of the law..Discuss the proper role of the judicial branch in a working democracy, including originalism theory and the living constitution theory..Distinguish between the philosophies of judicial activism and restraint, and provide a critique of each doctrine, discussing their underlying assumptions relating to the proper role of the Court in the American political system.Chapter SummaryAt the lowest level of the federal judicial system are the district courts, where most federal cases begin. Above them are the federal courts of appeals, which review cases appealed from the lowercourts. The U.S. Supreme Court is the nation’s highest court. Each state has its own court system, consisting of trial courts at the bottom and one or two appellate levels at the top. Cases
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