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Authority for Judicial System – Article III

2. What is the authority for Article III federal courts?

Article III Federal Courts

•    US Supreme Court – Article III of the Constitution establishes the US Supreme Court as the highest court in the land. It has “original jurisdiction” over certain matters, but serves almost entirely as an appellate court. It provides appellate review of the decisions of the highest state court and decisions from all federal appellate courts.

•    Federal Appellate Courts – These courts serve as the appellate courts for matters decided by judge or jury in the District Court. There are 13 federal appellate courts consisting of 11 enumerated US Circuit Courts of Appeal, the District of Columbia Circuit, and the Federal Circuit.

•    Ancillary Federal Courts – These are Article III federal courts with special authority and vested with specific jurisdiction by Congress. These ancillary courts include: US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review; US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court; US Court of International Trade, US Alien Terrorist Removal Court.

•    District Courts – These are the Article III trial courts for the federal system. There are approximately 94 district courts spread throughout the United States. They do not follow state boundaries; rather, they are positioned within pre-established federal jurisdictions. There are also courts of limited jurisdiction, known as federal magistrate courts, which exist in support of the federal district courts.

⁃    Discussion: Why do you think that there are such fewer federal trial and appellate courts than in the state court systems? How many cases does the US Supreme Court hear in a year? Does this number surprise you? Why or why not? What do you think is the reasoning behind the creation of special ancillary courts?

⁃    Practice Question: Meredith is involved in a civil trial in the US District Court located in the state of Maryland. At the conclusion of the trial, she appeals the court’s decision to the appropriate appellate court. Which Circuit Court of Appeals would be charged with reviewing Meredith’s request for appeal?

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