The Federal Courts

The Federal Courts - percentage of them. The Court meets in...

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The Federal Courts There are three layers of authority in the federal court system: 1. The Supreme Court is the highest federal court in the country. 2. The twelve Courts of Appeals and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have moderate jurisdiction. 3. Several district and specialized courts have the most restricted jurisdiction in the federal court system. The Structure of the Federal Courts The Supreme Court The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Sometimes it hears cases as a trial court, but most of the time the Court functions as an appellate court. The Court has traditionally consisted of nine justices: one chief justice and eight associate justices. Although Congress has the power to change the number of justices, the number has held steady at nine justices since 1869. Supreme Court justices serve for life. Selecting Cases The Supreme Court receives thousands of appeals every year but hears only a small
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Unformatted text preview: percentage of them. The Court meets in closed session to decide which cases to hear. The Court generally follows the rule of four in choosing cases: If four justices want to hear a case, the Court will accept it. When the Court decides to hear a case, it issues a writ of certiorari, a legal document ordering a lower court to send a case to the Supreme Court for review. The writ of certiorari signals that the Supreme Court will hear the case. The Court tends to hear only cases of great importance, such as cases involving a constitutional matter or a possible overturning of precedent. The Court is more likely to grant a writ of certiorari if one of the appellants is the U.S. government. The solicitor general, a high-ranking official in the Justice Department, submits the requests for certiorari and argues cases in front of the Court as the lawyer for the federal government....
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