Structure of the Federal Court System

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Before the adoption of the United States Constitution, the U.S. was governed by the Articles of Confederation. These articles stated that almost every function of the government was chartered by the legislature known as Congress. There was no distinction between legislative or executive powers. This was a major shortcoming in how the United States was governed as many leaders became dissatisfied with how the government was structured by the Articles of Confederation. They felt that the government was too weak to effectively deal with the upcoming challenges. In 1787, an agreement was made by delegates at the Constitutional Convention that a national judiciary needed to be established. This agreement became known as The Constitution of the United States, which explicitly granted certain powers to each of the three branches of the federal government, while reserving other powers exclusively to the states or to the people as individuals. It is, in its own words, “the supreme Law of the Land” (Shmoop Editorial Team). The first proposals to this new plan were the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. The Virginia Plan called for a separation of powers among the government’s three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Some states proposed this idea and came up with the New Jersey Plan, which called for all of the states to have equal representation from Congress. In order to move forward from the deadlock of the two proposals, the Connecticut Compromise was enacted. This decided that legislature would be bicameral, which meant that there would be two houses: one would have equal representation and one would be based on state population. This unified the states under a federal system. To this day, there are three types of Fe... ... middle of paper ... ... their rulings. They do not make the laws; that is the job of Congress. Their primary goal is to interpret and decide the constitutionality of federal law. As stated previously from Section 1 of Article 3 of the Constitution about the establishment of the Supreme Court and creation of the lower federal courts, the combination of these court systems represents the original Framer’s compromise to establish a national court and allow state courts to exercise jurisdiction in disputes falling under federal law. Works Cited AShmoop Editorial Team. "Constitution FAQ." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. "District Courts." USCOURTSGOV RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. "Structure of the Federal Courts." Federal Court Concepts. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. "Researching Appellate Procedure." Research Guides. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that federal courts have more extensive jurisdiction than state courts. state courts are limited by their boundaries, but the federal system covers the entire nation.
  • Explains that the most common way to reach the supreme court is on appeal from a circuit court.
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