The United States Court System
Article III of the United States Constitution states “… 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,” (Osterburg & Ward, 2004, p. 617) providing the basis of the federal systems of government. This system is known as federalism embracing national and state governments. A significant and complex feature of the judiciary in the United States is the dual court system. One distinction between the federal courts and the state courts is that each has an assigned jurisdiction, as outlined in the United States Constitution. This led to the development an individual court system for each state, the District of Columbia and one for the federal government. Whereas some legal issues can be entirely in the state courts and others entirely in federal courts, there are times when both courts must become involved sometimes causing friction. By exploring this subject further the hope is to gain a better understanding of the United States judicial system.
The federal system is composed of several courts the highest court is the Supreme Court referred to as “the highest court in the land” because it hears the appeals from state and federal courts alike (Chemerinsky, 2007). Nine justices preside over the court and terms begin the first Monday in October each year. Cases heard in the Supreme Court usually have been appealed from a lower court. Individuals wanting their cases heard by the Supreme Court must file a “writ of certiorari” and four of the nine judges must agree to issue a writ for the court to hear the case (Vermeule, 2007). In an average year the court will be asked to hear some 7,000 cases, fewer than 200 are accepted. (United States Courts, n.d.).
The Federal Courts of Appeals are just below the Supreme Court. These courts are divided into 12 different regions, known as circuits. Eleven of the twelve handle...