Week 16 (Dead Week) The Judiciary The Common Law Tradition: American law stems from the English legal tradition of common law. Common law is judge-made law based initially on the prevailing custom and eventually on legal precedent. Common law is based on stare decisis, which means to stand on decided cases. Development of the Court's Role in Government. Judicial Review, Marbury vs. Madison, National Supremacy. Civil War to the Great Depression. Industrialization, Court-Packing Plan. Started with the Court Pack bill in 1987 proposed by F.D. Roosevelt. President was allowed to appoint justices. Deemed unconstitutional. The Warren Court (1953-1969). Outlawed official racial segregation in public schools. Set strict national standards to protect the rights of criminal defendants. Required the equal apportionment of state legislatures and the House of Representatives. Ruled that prayers and Bible reading in public schools was unconstitutional. The Burger Court (1969-1986). Narrowed the reach of the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Restored the death penalty. Most decisions shifted toward the conservative, yet, many of its decisions still protected individual liberties and minority groups. The Rehnquist Court (1986-2005). By 1988, the Court shifted in a conservative direction, giving public school officials the right to censor school newspapers and plays, for example. The Court also made it more difficult for workers to sue employers for discrimination. Decisions were often hard to categorize, and the conservative did not always prevail. The Roberts Court (2005-Present). Sources of American Law. Constitutions, Statutes and Administrative Regulations, and Case Law. Types of Federal Courts. U.S. District Courts, U.S. Courts of Appeals, The United States Supreme Court, Specialized Federal Courts and the War on Terrorism. The Fisa Court, Alien "Removal Courts". Thirteen. What Cases Reach the Supreme Court? When two lower courts are in disagreements. When a lower court's ruling conflicts with an existing Supreme Court ruling. When a case has broad significance (as in desegregation or abortion decisions). When the highest state court holds a federal law invalid, or upholds a state law that has been challenged as violating a federal law. When a federal court holds an act of Congress unconstitutional. When the solicitor general is pressuring the Court to hear a case. Cases Before the Court. Granting Petitions for Review. Review is granted by writ of certiorari. To issue a writ, a minimum of four justices must agree that the case should be heard by the Supreme Court (the "rule of four"). Deciding Cases Once the Court has decided to accept a case, both parties in the case will submit legal briefs and (usually) make oral arguments. If the Court is unanimous in the ruling, one justice will be assigned to write the opinion of the Court. If the justices are divided on the reasoning of the outcome, there will be a majority opinion and dissenting opinions. The Selection of Federal Judges. Judicial Appointments. Federal District Court Judgeship Nominations, Federal Courts of Appeals Appointments, Supreme Court Appointments. Partisanship and Judicial Appointments. The Senate's Role. What Checks Our Courts? Executive Checks, Legislative Checks- Constitutional amendments, Revision of laws. Public Opinion.
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