14.1 The American Legal System
Cases and the Law
In the US judicial system, cases are decided based on principles established in previous cases; a practice called common law.
Types of Courts
The federal court system has three levels: district courts, courts of appeals, and the Supreme Court.
The federal court system has limited, though important, jurisdiction.
14.2 Origins of American Law
The Common Law Tradition
Law of the United States was mainly derived from the common law system of English law.
Primary Sources of American Law: Constitutions, Statues a...
The primary sources of American Law are: constitutional law, statutory law, treaties, administrative regulations, and the common law.
Civil Law and Criminal Law
Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime and civil law deals with disputes between organizations and individuals.
Basic Judicial Requirements
In the judiciary system each position within the federal, state and local government have different types of requirements.
14.3 Federal Court System
U.S. District Courts
The 94 U.S. district courts oversee civil and criminal cases within certain geographic or subject areas.
U.S. Court of Appeals
The U.S. courts of appeals review the decisions made in trial courts and often serve as the final arbiter in federal cases.
The Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest tribunal within the U.S. and most often hears cases concerning the Constitution or federal law.
14.4 Judicial Review and Policy Making
The Impact of Court Decisions
Privatization is government outsourcing of services or functions to private firms.
The Power of Judicial Review
Judicial review is the doctrine where legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary.
Judicial Activism and Judicial Restraint
Judicial activism is based on personal/political considerations and judicial restraint encourages judges to limit their power.
The Supreme Court as Policy Makers
The Constitution does not grant the Supreme Court the power of judicial review but the power to overturn laws and executive actions.
Two Judicial Revolutions: The Rehnquist Court and the Rob...
The Rehnquist Court favored federalism and social liberalism, while the Roberts Court was considered more conservative.