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Federal Courts

Legislative And Constitutional Courts

Constitutional courts are established pursuant to Article III 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." These courts have only the powers specified in Article III. They can hear only cases or controversies; their judges hold office for life, as long as they are not guilty of judicial misconduct; and their judges' salary cannot be reduced while those judges serve in office.

The Supreme Court, the U.S. courts of appeal (including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit), the U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade are constitutional, or Article III, courts.

Legislative courts are known as Article I courts because they are created pursuant to the authority given to Congress in Article I, Section 8, Clause 9, of the Constitution. That section empowers Congress "To constitute Tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court." No restrictions exist as to the type of court that must be created. Such courts can possess whatever jurisdiction Congress deems appropriate. Judges can be appointed by specific terms of years, and salaries can be adjusted in response to the changing economy.

In earlier times, legislative courts were the best means to bring justice into the territories. Territorial courts heard all kinds of cases that the constitutional courts could not hear, such as DIVORCE cases. Once a territory became a state, cases that fell within the jurisdiction of the federal court would be transferred to the federal court established in the new state; all other cases would be heard in the courts of the newly created state.

The U.S. TAX COURT and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims are legislative courts. Although the Court of Military Appeals was created pursuant to Article I, it is not part of the judiciary but functions as a military tribunal to make rules, to regulate the ARMED SERVICES, and to review courts-martial.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Ex proprio motu (ex mero motu) to FileFederal Courts - Legislative And Constitutional Courts, Structure, Geographic Organization, Jurisdiction, Bankruptcy Courts, Court Of Federal Claims - Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces