Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Great American Court Cases » Judicial Powers - The Judicial Branch, Powers Of The Courts, The Federal System Of Courts, The State System Of Courts

Judicial Powers - The Judicial Branch

court courts constitution federal

The judicial system, along with the executive and legislative systems, comprise the three branches of the U.S. government. The judicial branch is composed of federal and state courts and the judges who preside in these courts. The purpose of the judiciary is to interpret laws and make rulings on legal questions. Additionally, it determines if laws passed by legislatures, on a national, state, or local level, violate the U.S. Constitution. The courts also consider the constitutionality of the actions taken by the executive branch. This process, called judicial review, allows the judiciary to void or nullify any laws or actions that they decide are unconstitutional. In response, the legislative branch may ratify a Constitutional amendment in order to make the legislation lawful. In this way, the judicial branch plays a crucial role in the government's system of checks and balances.

The authority of the federal court system is granted by Article III, Section 1, of the Constitution, which states: "The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution extends the jurisdiction of the federal courts to cases, in law and equity, that arise under the Constitution and federal legislation, including: controversies to which the United States is a party; such as those originating from treaties with other countries; controversies between states; and controversies between the citizens of one state and citizens of another state. State court systems operate under the laws and constitution of the individual states.

The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the country and the court of last resort for the appeal process. It is the final decision-making body regarding constitutionality. The Court is located in Washington, D.C., and starts its term on the first Monday in October.

While the Court is constitutionally mandated to hear the entirety of certain cases, such as those that involve foreign ambassadors or lawsuits between states, the justices have leeway to determine whether or not they will hear other cases that have been brought before them. As a rule, the nine justices usually select cases that they believe address important constitutional questions or involve contradictory rulings on federal statuatory laws by lower courts. They may uphold or overturn the prior ruling. If the Court declines to review an appeal, however, the lower court's ruling is binding.

Judicial Powers - Powers Of The Courts [next]

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or