POLI202 Notes - Baum pg 106 - 114

POLI202 Notes- - Decision Making Once the SC determines which cases to hear the justices get to he heart of their work decision making in the cases

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Decision Making - Once the SC determines which cases to hear, the justices get to he heart of their work: decision making in the cases they hear. Subject of this chapter: How and why the court makes its decisions Components of the Court’s Decision - SC decision on the merits has two components: immediate outcome for the parties of the case, statement of general legal rules. SC nearly always presents both components in the opinion - Opinions: Usually start with background of the case; then turns to the legal issues in the case, discussing the opposing views on those issues and indicating the Court’s conclusions. End of the opinion summarizes the outcome for both parties - Except in the few cases SC hears under original jurisdiction, the SC describes the outcome of the case in relation to the lower-court decision it is reviewing o Can affirm, modify, reverse, or vacate (make void) - When the SC does disturb a lower-court decision , it sometimes makes a final judgment; more often remands the case to lower court and sends it for reconsideration. SC’s opinion provides guidance on how the case should be reconsidered (ex: lower court should take a diff interpretation of a statute) - In most cases, outcome (for parties) only affects a limited subsection of people; what makes most decisions consequential is the statement of general legal rules that apply to the nation as a whole. When the Court’s opinion resolves the legal issue in a case, it doesn’t just provide specific guidance to a lower court for the specific case; it lays down rules that any court must follow in a case to which the rules apply - Thus, decisions that affect only a few people (parties in the case) can have indirect effect on thousands or millions of people The Decision Making Process Presentation of Cases to the Court - Written briefs that the SC receives when it considers whether to hear a case usually discuss the merits of a case - Cases have been accepted for oral argument/decision attorneys for the parties submit new briefs that focus on the merits - Preponderance of cases that reach this stage: interest groups submit amicus curiae briefs stating their own arguments on the merits o Most of the material in the briefs concern legal issues; parties muster evidence to support their interpretations of relevant constitutional provisions/statues; often also offer arguments about policy (why voting for their side is good public policy) - Materials in briefs is supplemented by attorneys’ presentations in oral arguments o Attorneys for the case sometimes share their time w/ lawyers for an amicus (usually the Fed Gov) o Each side given 30 minutes; sometimes the Court gives more time o Justices ask questions a la Moot Court o Justices differ in how much they participate in the give-and-take of oral argument Scalia speaks most, followed by Ginsburg and Roberts o Oral argument gives attys opportunities to strengthen their case by supplementing/highlighting the material in their briefs. o
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2008 for the course POLI 202 taught by Professor Mcguire during the Fall '07 term at UNC.

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POLI202 Notes- - Decision Making Once the SC determines which cases to hear the justices get to he heart of their work decision making in the cases

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