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FEDERAL JUDICIARY

CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION:

2. NEED FOR FEDERAL JUDICIARY:

3. TYPES OF COURTS:

4. JUDICIAL REVIEW:

INTRODUCTION:
The Judicial system of America is unique in many ways. It is federal in character and has
judicial supremacy and power of judicial review. The American judiciary has extensive powers
to defend the Constitution; which allows it to declare any law passed by Congress or an order
issued by the Chief Executive (President) as void, if it is found contrary to the spirit of the
constitution. The American constitution is based on the doctrine of Separation of Powers
aided by the system of Checks and Balances. Under these features, the judiciary keeps all the
organs and functionaries of the government within their respective jurisdiction and limitation.

The Article-III of the American Constitution has provided for the establishment of Supreme
Court, separate from the States courts. The constitution has declared Supreme Court superior to
the State judiciary. Hence The Supreme Court is the head of the judicial System of United
States.

The Federal Judiciary consists of constitutional courts and Legislative Courts. The
constitutional courts consist of courts of claims and courts of customs and appeals; while
Legislative Courts consists of territorial courts, District of Columbia Court of Military Appeals.
NEED FOR FEDERAL JUDICIARY:
The framers of the constitution and the founding fathers of America felt a need for an
establishment of National Judiciary, which could be entrusted with the functions of deciding
disputes among the States and between Federation and the Federating States. They realized that
disputes were certain to arise as the meaning of various provisions of the constitution and
interpretation of law passed by Congress were different.

They also planned for a More Perfect Union to establish justice. There for there was a need
for establishment of a court, which would be an impartial umpire, supreme and independent of
the States. Thus the constitution provides for a Supreme Court and its organization, procedure
and the organization of the courts inferior to it are left to be determined by the Congress.
TYPES OF COURTS:
There are two types of courts. Namely:
1. Constitutional Courts
2. Legislative Courts

1. CONSTITUTIONAL COURTS:
The Constitutional Courts are those which are established by the authority of Article-III of the
Constitution. The Constitutional Courts consist of:

(a.) Supreme Court
(b.) Court of Appeals
(c.) District Courts
(d.) Courts of Claims
(e.) Custom Courts
(f.) Courts of Customs and Appeals

(a.) SUPREME COURT:
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the US. It is composed of one (1) Chief Justice and
eight (8) associate judges. They are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of
Senate. The Supreme Court members cannot be dissolved, but can be impeached if found of any
misbehavior towards constitution.

JURISDICTION OF U.S SUPREME COURT
The US Supreme Court maintains both the original and the appellate jurisdictions.

The original jurisdiction extends to the following cases:

i. Cases affecting ambassadors and other public ministers/secretaries.

ii. Intergovernmental cases, in which Federal Government or State Government are parties.

Meaning it has original but not exclusive jurisdictions in:

cases brought by ministers of foreign States, in controversies between Federal Government and
Federating States and in action by a State against aliens or against citizens of another State.


The appellate jurisdiction extends to:

All cases falling under the federal judicial authority. It can hear appeals from the lower federal
courts and from State High Courts, in the cases which involve the interpretation of the
Constitution in letter and spirit.

Cases that do not originate in Supreme Court come to it by an appeal or big writ of certiorari.
Appeals are allowed as a matter of right in cases involving Federal and State powers, which
obviously require ruling by the highest court (that is the Supreme Court). On the petition of
certiorari the Supreme Court has the option of granting of denying review. About 80% of
Supreme Courts business arises from the petitions of certiorari.

SESSION OF U.S SUPREME COURT:
The Supreme Courts term begins annually on 1st Monday in October and usually ends early in
the following June. Special session may be summoned by the Chief Justice when the Court is
adjourned, on the occasion of unusual importance and urgency.

CONFERENCE:
After the completion of arguments, the justices of the Supreme Court meet in a conference, on
Friday, during a session, to compare views and vote. The Chief Justice states his opinion first
but votes last. He also decides who will write the Courts opinion. Every judge has to attend the
conference with a responsibility of writing an opinion that will accord with his vote. If a
majority cannot reach an agreement, the case is re-argued and the decision of lower courts is
allowed to stand.

ROLE SUPREME COURT

The U.S Supreme Court plays a dual role. In first place, it has to act as the guardian and
custodian of the constitution and fundamental rights of the citizens. In the second place, it
permits and helps the constitution to develop and expand with the course of time.

GUARDIAN OF THE CONSTITUTION AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF
CITIZENS:
The U.S Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the Constitution. As a guardian of
Constitution, it protects Federating States against any encroachment by the Federal Government
or Vice Versa. It protects the individuals against invasion of rights by the Federating States and
the Federal Government. It keeps the powers of various functionaries of the government of US
within their respective spheres of authority.

The Supreme Court possesses the power of judicial review. It can declare any law passed by the
Congress or any action taken by the President as null and void if they go against the
provisions of the Constitution. Hence Supreme Court is the final court to judge the
constitutionality of any law or executive decision. However, it can only move into the matter if
a case is brought before it.

The Supreme Court declares laws and orders null & void on the basis of due process of law
clause. It means a law may be declared unconstitutional, if it does not satisfy the rules of
reasons. In practice it means that a majority of Supreme Court judges may declare any law or
executive action as invalid if it appears to them as unreasonable, unjust or immoral even though
it is not a direct contravention of a particular clause of the constitution. In US law is correct
only if the Supreme Court judges think that it is correct no matter it is against the constitution or
not.

The judges of the Supreme Court not only interpret the Constitution but also determine political
and economic policy of the United States. In U.S it is not for the people to say what law they
want, but it is for the Supreme Court to declare what law is according to the constitution. Thus,
the Supreme Court has become Super Legislature, or 3rd Chamber of legislature.


DEVELOPMENT OF CONSTITUTION:
The Supreme Court has contributed a good towards the development of the Constitution. By its
powers of Judicial Review, the Supreme Court has always interpreted the Constitution to meet
the needs of the times. By involving the doctrine of implied powers, it has made the Centre
strong at the cost of States. Without this US federalism might have failed in these tomes of
growing centralism.

If it was not for the liberal interpretation by the Supreme Court, the U.S constitution might have
failed to satisfy the early 13 States which founded the country & also other States which joined
in afterwards.

The decision and interpretation of the Supreme Court have played so great a role in evolution of
the constitution that some commentators have called the Supreme Court a continuous
constitutional conventions.


(b.) COURTS OF APPEALS:
Immediately below the Supreme Court stands the Courts of Appeal, created in 1891 to facilitate
the disposition of cases and lessen the burden of Supreme Court. U.S is divided into ten circuits
with a Court of Appeals for Each. About 3 to 9 judges, including a single Judge from Supreme
Court are appointed by the President for each circuit. District judges can also be appointed to
serve in the appeal courts.

The courts of appeals meet on regular intervals in each circuit. They only have slight original
jurisdictions. The cases decided by the district courts, legislative courts and quasi-judicial
boards come to these courts for review. However, the decisions and reviews of the courts of
appeals can only be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

(c.) DISTRICT COURTS:
There are 89 District Courts in U.S. 50 States are divided into 87 districts, while there is 1
district court for District of Columbia and one for Puerto Rico. Each State has at least 1
district court but the States with larger population include 2 or more of these courts. Each
District Court has at least 1 judge but up to 24 judges can be appointed there by the President
with the consent of the Senate.

The permanent seat of the District Courts is maintained at a principle city. The Court holds
meetings on regular intervals in various cities within the district. These courts chiefly possess
the original jurisdiction. No cases come to them on appeal. Cases begin in State Courts and are
usually transferred to them. Ordinarily the District Court cases require a single judge; however
3 judges must sit in certain types of cases.


(d.) COURTS OF CLAIMS:
The court of claims was created by the Act of the Congress in 1855, to hear claims against the
United States. In 1953, it became a Constitutional Court. The Courts handle claims arising out
of the Constitution, acts of Congress and executive order. The claims comprise of unpaid salary,
property taken for public use, contractual obligation and personal injuries for which the Federal
Government is allegedly responsible.

The courts of claims consist of a Chief Justice and 4 associate justices, who are appointed by
the President with the consent of the Senate. The Court sits in Washington D.C on 1st Monday
in each December.

(v.) CUSTOMS COURT:
It was established in 1890 as a Board of United States General Appraisers. It became
Constitutional Court in 1926. It consists of a Chief Judge and 8 associate judges, appointed by
President with the approval of Senate. Note more than 5 judges may be from same political
party.

The Court hears disputes that arise out of decision made by Customs officers in the treasury
department. The main office of Customs Court is located in New York City, however some case
are also heard at the principle ports such as Boston, New Orleans and San Francisco.

(vi.) COURT OF COUSTOMS & APPEALS:
The Court of Customs and Appeals was established in 1910 and became Constitutional Court in
1958. It consists of a Chief Judge along with 4 associate judges, appointed by the President with
Senatorial approval. The Court usually sits in Washington but it may convene in any judicial
circuit.

The Court hears appeals against the decisions of Custom Courts. Its judgments and decrees are
final with the exception that they may be reviewed upon through certiorari by the Supreme
Court.

2. LEGISLATIVE COURTS
The legislative courts are those, which are created under the laws of the Congress. They are also
known as Special Courts having no jurisdictions under the Article-III of the Constitution. They
include the territorial courts, District of Columbia (D.C) Courts and Court of Military Appeals.

(i.) TERRITORIAL COURTS:

Besides the local courts each territory has a court, which functions as local courts in the Panama
Canal Zone, The Virgin Island, Puerto Rico and Guam. It has jurisdictions over both Federal
and territorial matters. The judges of territorial courts are not governed by the provisions of the
Constitution but by the Legislative Acts. They are usually appointed for the term of 8 years.

(ii.) THE COURTS OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:

The DC Courts exercise exclusive jurisdiction over the local cases of the district of general trial.

(iii.) THE COURTS OF MILITARY APPEALS:

This court was established in 1950. It is located in the Department of Defence for administrative
purpose. It consists of 3 civilian judges appointed by the President with Senates approval. It
reviews the more serious court material decisions concerning members of armed forces. Its
decisions are final except in those rare cases in which Supreme Court does not agree on law
point.


JUDICIAL REVIEW

MEANING OF JUDICIAL REVIEW:

Judicial Review may be defined as the power of the Supreme Court to review all national and
State Legislation and executive acts and declare them null or void if found un constitutional.

POWER TO JUDICIAL REVIEW:

The U.S constitution does not contain any specific provision concerning the power of Judicial
Review. This issue was in fact never discussed in the constitutional convention of 1789. Many
believe that the framers of the constitution never intended to confer such power upon Court and
that the exercise of this power by the courts is usurpation on their part.

President Jefferson for one had argued the power of judicial review of the Supreme Court.
According to him the constitution has organized government in three independent branches on
the basis of Separation of Powers; and to give judiciary the power to invalidate acts of other two
branches would only make judiciary supreme over the scheme of the constitution.

On the other hand, Alexander Hamilton in the Federsit Papers argued in favor of the courts
power to judicial review. It is Hamiltons argument that majority of the constituent convention
members agree upon.


SOURCES OF THE POWER:

There are two sources of power of judicial review in the constitution.

(i.) The constitutional division of powers between Federal and State Government

(ii.) Three organs of State

The 2nd source is the due process clause of the 5th & 14th amendments along with Bill of
Rights of the Constitution. The due process clause has immediately enhanced the scope of
Supreme Courts power of Judicial Review.


POWERS OF JUDICIAL REVIEW & THEIR SCOPE:

The power of judicial review has a wide scope. The powers of judicial review and their scopes
can be discussed as follow:

REVIEW OF STATE LAWS:

It is the power of Supreme Court to review the laws passed by the State Legislature. If any law
passed violates the provisions of the Constitution or conflicts with the laws passed by Congress
or a treaty negotiated by the President, the Supreme Court has power to declare it Null and
Void.

However, the Supreme Court can only review a law if an aggrieved party puts forward the case.
It can not deliver a judgment on its own initiative.

REVIEW OF FEDERAL LAWS:

It is the power of Supreme Court to review & pass upon the validity of Act of Congress.
According to the members of Courts, their job is to ascertain with or in contravention of the
provisions of the Constitution. The Court has so far held many Congressional Legislations to be
the Constitutional in whole or in part. The only recourse for the Congress, if such an opinion is
handed down, is to try to frame new legislation within the limitations of the constitution.

REVIEW OF EXECUTIVE ACTIONS:

The Federal judiciary exercises the power to review acts and actions of the executive also.

One famous example of Courts action against Presidential order is when President H.S Truman
orders his Secretary of Commerce to seize and operate most of the countrys steel mills. He
sought to justify his orders on ground that it would help obtaining uninterrupted steel
production for vital military purposes, especially since US was fighting Korean War. However,
the orders were challenged in the Court and the Supreme Court held that the President has
exceeded this constitutional powers and accordingly set asides the Presidents order.


SIGNIFICANCE OF JUDICIAL REVIEW:

The merits of the power of judicial review may be summarized as follow:

ITS EXERCISE HAS PROVED BENEFICIAL:

This power has brought uniformity in United States system. It has been the principle medium
of uniform interpretation and application of federal Constitution, federal laws and treaties
throughout the length and breadth of the nation.

It has also helped in ensuring that the constitution and laws of the Federating States are
conformed to the Federal Constitution.

A USEFUL BENEFACTOR BETWEEN CONTENDING LEGAL INTERESTS:

It is clearly been understood that American constitution system is based on principles of
division and limitation of powers. By exercising the power of Judicial Review, the Supreme
Court ensures that neither the Federal nor the State Government transgress the Constitutional
limits placed upon their respective powers; also it make sure no government organ exceeds the
limits of its constitutional jurisdictions.

By using this power, Supreme Court ensures that neither the Federal Government suffered from
any weakness due to lack of jurisdictions nor did the interest of the Constitutional/Federating
States suffer. It has been a successful balance of interests in an evolving federal political
system.

It is in this sense that the Supreme Court has played the use full role of guardian of the rights
and privileges of the Federal and State governments alike.

A PROTECTOR OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL:

Under the constitution provisions regarding the rights of the individual and the due process of
the 5th and 14th amendments, the U.S Supreme Court guards the rights and privileges of the
individuals.

Under the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court has given wide meaning to personal rights,
liberties and properties and guarded them by declaring various governmental laws
unconstitutional and therefore inapplicable. The Court, in its judgments, has indeed had bias in
favor of the private property and freedom of contract. But the bias is justified in keeping the
philosophy of the American Socio-Economic Systems.

AN INDISPENSABLE REQUISTIE OF A FEDERAL SYSTEM:

It is indispensable requisite of a federal system. This can be justified by the statement of Justice
Holmes that; he could imagine a system in which the Supreme Court had no power to invalidate
a National Status but could not imagine a workable system in which there was no judicial
control over the federating states.

CONFIDENCE OF PEOPLE:

The U.S judiciary over the years has given American federal system stability, coherence and
flexibility in growth. This has won the confidence of the people in the U.S Supreme Court.








CRITICISM

CRITICISM ON THE BASIS OF FIVE TO FOUR MAJORITY:


Even though Alexander Hamiltons views regarding judicial review are widely agreed upon,
there are critics following the lead of President Jeffersons views on this power of Supreme
Court.

A line of criticism against the Supreme Court is that it can declare a law unconstitutional by 5 to
4 majority i.e. 5 judges holding the law constitutional and 4 as unconstitutional. In this way a
single judge can title balance one way or the other. This situation raises two points.

(i.) Should a single justice nullify the action of the President and the Congress, both of whom
are the representatives of the people?

(ii.) How is it that a set of judges come to the conclusion that a law is unconstitutional and
another set thinks that it is not? It would mean that the option that judges form about the
constitutionality of a law is more subjective than objective. On both grounds the powers of the
Court is undemocratic and therefore, ought to be terminated without delay.


COUNTER CRITICISM TO FIVE TO FOUR MAJORITY:

The criticism of 5 to 4 majority is invalid on the following grounds:

In 1st place very few laws of congress have been declared unconstitutional by a close vote of
five to four.

2ndly, no statue of the Congress has been declared unconstitutional by the actions of the single
judge. It would require concurrent opinion of 5 judges at the same time to declare a law
unconstitutional.

3rdly, subjective opinions of the judges regarding what amounts to unconstitutionality do
influence their decisions but the opinion itself is always the result of a sound and scientific
under-standing of law.


CRITICISM REGARDING THE COORDINATE NATURE OF THE POWERS OF THE
THREE ORGANS:

The real issue is not the controversy over the power of the judicial review on what the court
should do when it finds that a law is against the spirit of the constitution, the real issue is that
should the law be declared unconstitutional by Supreme Court when both Congress and the
President consider it be constitutional.

The American constitution calls the three organs; the President, the Congress and the Supreme
Court, as coordinate organs. Yet both the Congress and the President acquire in the Courts
power of Judicial Review. This is highly criticized amongst the followers of Jeffersons views
towards powers of judicial powers.

ENCOURAGES IRRESPONSIBLE LEGISLATION:

The power of Judicial Review of the Supreme Court is also criticized for reasons of its political
consequence. On the one hand, it encourages irresponsible legislation and on the other, it makes
the attainment of political objectives too remote and uncertain. It makes people loose active
interest in political affairs.

SUPREME COURT AS THE 3RD LEGISLATIVE CHAMBER OF THE CONGRESS:

The Supreme Court under the power of Judicial Review has not only restricted it self to
determining the validity of Acts of Government but it has also resort it self to the examination
of the reasonableness of the Act. The court does not only view the process applied by the
government but also the substance of the law regarding the action.

The effect of this has made Supreme Court a 3rd chamber of the Congress, sitting in judgment
over what the other two chambers did.

JUDGES ARE CONSERVATIVE FOLKS:

It is also believed that judges are mostly conservative, supporting the older moral and ethics of
the society over the newer views of people and government. Hence, they may pose as a
challenge to a law which they regard as immoral just on their own ideologies.

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion one can say that the power of Judicial Review will continue to be criticized when
ever a political conventions law is declared void. However, in a liberal democratic system that
U.S follows it is virtually impossible to take away power of Judicial Review from the Supreme
Court.