Chapter 13: Courts: Judicial Politics Flashcards

Law
Terms Definitions
judicial review
The power of the Surpreme Court to declare laws unconstitutional.
judicial self-restraint
Self-imposed limitation on judicial power by judges deferring to the policy judgments of elected branches of government
statutory laws
Laws made by act of Congress or the state legislatures, as opposed to
original intent
Judicial philosophy under which judges attempt to apply the values
judicial activism
Making of new law through judicial interpretations of the Constitution.
stare decisis
Judicial precept that the issue has already been decided in earlier cases and the ea
precedent
Legal principle that previous decisions should determine the outcome of current
jurisdiction
Power of a court to hear a case in question
original jurisdiction
A particular court's power to serve as the place where a given case is initially
appellate jurisdiction
Particular court's power to review a decision or action of a lower court.
appeal
In general, requests that a higher court review cases decided at a lower level. In the SC, certain cases are designated as appeals under federal law; formally, these must be heard by the Court.
district courts
Original jurisdiction trial courts of the federal system.
grand juries
Juries called to hear evidence and decide whether defendants should be indicted and tried.
petit (regular) juries
Juries called to determine guilt or innocence.
circuit courts
The 12 appellate courts that make up the middle level of the federal court system.
briefs
Documents submitted by an attorney to a court, setting out the facts of the case and the legal arguments in support of the party represented by the attorney.
civil cases
Noncriminal court proceedings in which a plaintiff sues a defendant for damages in payment for harm inflicted.
adversarial system
Method of decision making in the which an impartial judge or jury or decision maker hears arguments and reviews evidence presented by opposite sides.
standing
Requirement that the party who files a lawsuit have a legal stake in the outcome.
plaintiffs
Parties initiating suits and claiming damages. In criminal cases, the state acts as plaintiff on behalf of an injured society and requests fines and/or imprisonment as damages. In civil suits, the plaintiff is the injured party and seeks monetary damages.
defendants
Parties against whom a criminal or civil suit is brought.
sovereign immunity
Legal doctrine that individuals can sue the government only with the government's consent.
class action suits
Cases initiated by parties acting on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated.
contingency fees
Fees paid to attorneys to represent the plaintiff in a civil suit and receive in compensation an agreed-upon percentage of damages awarded (if any).
remedies and reliefs
Orders of a court to correct a wrong, including a violation of the Constitution.
independent counsel ("special prosecutor")
A prosecutor appointed by a federal court to pursue charges against a president or other high official. This position was allowed to lapse by Congress in 1999 after many controversial investigations by these prosecutors.
litmus test
In political terms, a person's stand on a key issue that determines whether he or she will be appointed to public office or supported in electoral campaigns.
senatorial courtesy
Custom of the U.S. Senate with regard to presidential nominations to the judiciary to defer to the judgement of senators from the president's party from the same state as the nominee.
writ of certiorari
Writ issued by the Supreme Court, at its discretion, to order a lower court to prepare the record of a case and send it to the Supreme Court for review. Most cases come to the Court as petitions for writs of certiorari.
rule of four
At least 4 justices must agree to hear an appeal (writ of certiorari) from a lower court in order to get a case before the Supreme Court.
amicus curiae
Literally, "friend of the court"; a person, private group or institution, or government agency that is not a party to a case but participates in the case (usually through submission of a brief) at the invitation of the court or on its own initiative.
solicitor general
Attorney in the DOJ who represents the U.S. govt before the SC and any other courts.
majority opinion
Opinion in a case that is subscribed to by a majority of the judges who participated in the decision.
concurring opinion
Opinion by a member of a court that agrees with the result reached by the court in the case but disagrees with or departs from the court's rationale for the decision.
dissenting opinion
Opinion by a member of a court that disagrees with the result reached by the court in the case.
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