1 minute read

Criminal Courts

The Constitution And The Courts

Following independence from Great Britain in 1783, the U.S. Constitution finally established a national court system. It called for a U.S. Supreme Court and gave Congress the power to establish lower courts as it saw fit. Federal judges served the courts for life and could only be removed if impeached (put on trial for specific crimes against the government) and convicted by Congress. The U.S. president had the responsibility to make selections for federal judge positions and send the nominations to the Senate for approval. The Senate Judiciary Committee carried out an investigation of the nominees and heard arguments for and against each selection.

The Constitution also determined what cases federal courts would have authority to hear. These included all cases raising issues over constitutional or federal law, federal treaties, or cases between people in different states, between a state and a person in another state, or between two states. Courts did not serve in an advisory role to the legislature as courts do in other countries. Some foreign courts review proposed laws before they are enacted to determine their constitutionality. In addition, if a U.S. federal court determines a court issue is primarily political, known as a political question, then the court refers the case to the other two branches to resolve the case if they choose.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawCriminal Courts - Early American Courts, The Constitution And The Courts, Creating A National Court System, Federal Courts - Special state courts