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The Judicial Branch and Supreme Court (Middle School)

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by

Kevin Bloom

on 27 February 2012

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Transcript of The Judicial Branch and Supreme Court (Middle School)

Warm - Up
The goal of the Judicial System is to provide “Justice for All”.
Do you agree with this phrase?
Why/ Why Not?

Why is the goddess of justice blindfolded?
Two Types of Cases
Civil Disputes
Criminal Trials
Between two private parties
A private party and the government
The US and a state or local government
Each side presents their position then the court applies the law to facts and renders a decision for one of the sides.
Between the accused (defendant) and the victim(s)
Between the accused the government
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.
Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Defense attorney and Prosecutor present evidence and witness, a jury or judge delivers a verdict.
Article III established the Supreme Court, but also gave Congress the power to create Federal Courts
Cases Heard in Federal Courts
CASES INVOLVING THE CONSTITUTION
If the event or action in question is related to the Constitution.
EX: if a person feels their rights have been violated
VIOLATIONS of FEDERAL LAWS
Criminal cases where someone had broken a Federal Law
EX: kidnapping, tax evasion or counterfeiting
CONTROVERSIES BETWEEN STATES
Argument between state governments
DISPUTES BETWEEN PARTIES FROM DIFFERENT STATES
Lawsuit between people who live in different states
EX: You buy a dog from an out-of-state breeder.
SUITS INVOLVING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
People or Companies can be sued by the government
EX: government paid a company to build new fighter jets but did not deliver them on-time.
People or Companies can sue the government
EX: You get into a car accident with a mail truck and are seeking damages.
CASES INVOLVING FOREIGN GOV. and TREATIES
Foreign Governments who have a dispute between the U.S. Government or an American Company.
CASES BASED on MARITIME LAWS
Involve accidents and crimes on the high seas.
EX - Case several years ago involved sunken treasures on a ship 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina.
MORE THEN 200 MILES OFF A COAST IS CONSIDERED INTERNATIONAL WATERS
CASES INVOLVING U.S. DIPLOMATS
EX: An American diplomat working in the U.S. embassy in France is accused of breaking an American law.
CASES INVOLVING STATE LAW WOULD BE HEARD IN STATE COURTS
District Courts (94)- trials are held and lawsuits are begun.
All federal cases begin in these courts.
Only level of federal court where witnesses testify and juries hear cases
Court of Appeals (12) - those who lose their cases in a district court can file an appeal to this higher level court.
Appeals courts do not hold trials, rather a panel of 3 or more judges review the case.
UPHOLD or keep the original decision
REVERSE the original decision
REMAND- send the case back to the lower court for a re-trial
The Supreme Court is NOT required to hear all cases presented to it. Rather it chooses the cases it hears.



Court has FINAL AUTHORITY on matters involving the Constitution, acts of Congress, and treaties.
It receives nearly 7,000 requests each year, but selects fewer then 200
Becoming a Supreme Court Justice
They are always lawyers.
Have had careers as a lawyer, teaching law or working as a judge in a lower court
Presidents pick judges who share the same political beliefs.
First African-American justice was Thurgood Marshall (1967-1991)
Clarence Thomas (today)
First woman justice was Sandra Day O`Connor (1981-2006)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg , Sonia Sotomayor , Elena Kagan (today)
Powers of the Supreme Court
Provides "Checks and Balances" to the other two branches.
JUDICIAL REVIEW - power to say if a law or action goes against the Constitution.


They also interpret laws
EX: 1995 law by Congress said a violent crime where a gun was "USED" carried a 5 year min prison sentence.
What does "use" mean?
Supreme Court ruled "use" meant the gun was shown, fired or the person stated it was on them.
Limits on the Court's Power
Relies on the Executive Branch to carry-out their rulings
Congress can pass a new law or change a law that was deemed unconstitutional.
Congress can try to undo the courts decision by creating an Amendment that changes the Constitution.
MAJORITY OPINION - This would express the view of the six judges and their ruling on the case. This opinion sets the precedent for all similar future cases.

DISSENTING OPINION- Why the three choose not to vote with the others. Each of the three may write their own.
EX: Court rules 6-3
When the court rules on a case, two opinions exist
Full transcript