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Article III Courts

1. What is the authority for the federal and state judicial systems in the United States?

The authority for the federal and state judicial systems is found in the US and state Constitutions. Below is a breakdown of the courts as authorized under Articles I, II, and III of the US Constitution. State constitutions are modeled after the US Constitution and generally establish a similar state-court structure.

Federal System

•    Article III – “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.” The US Supreme Court is the only court specifically established by the Constitution. Congress has created several subordinate courts below the Supreme Court, which include the Federal District Courts, Federal Circuit Courts, and numerous ancillary courts that have special jurisdiction. Pursuant to Articles I and II, all members of Article III courts and tribunals are appointed by the President and are confirmed by vote of the Senate.

⁃    Discussion: Can you think of any reasons why Congress decided to create numerous courts that are subordinate to the Supreme Court? How do you feel about the right of the President to nominate judges? How do you feel about the requirement that the Senate approve judicial nominees? Can you recall any instances where the Senate has refused to confirm a Presidential nominee to a federal court?

⁃    Practice Question: At the end of the year, it is expected that there will be approximately 150 federal judgeships open. The President of the United States has assembled a list of nominees for the positions. His list is very well planned and all of the candidates have the appropriate credentials for the position. Can the President rest assured that all of his nominees will receive the nominated judicial position?

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