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48 Cards in this Set

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District court
The lowest tier of the federal court system, federal trial courts. Where cases involving federal law begin, and the cases are decided by a judge or jury. At least one federal district court in every state, and one in DC. Number of judicial districts varies over time, primarily owing to pop. chages and corresponding caseloads. Currently 94 judicial districts. Also includes other trial courts, Court of International Trade, etc. These courts have limited/specialized subject-matter jurisdiction.
Court of Appeals
A court having appellate jurisdiction that normally does not hear evidence or testimony but reviews the transcript of the trail court's proceedings, other records relating to the case, and the attorney's respective arguments as to why the trial court's decision should or should not stand
Supreme Court
The highest level of the three-tiered model of the federal court system. Article III-there is only one national Supreme Court. Congress in empowered to create additional "inferior" courts as it deems necessary. USSC consists of 9 justices--a chief justice and 8 associate justices--although that number is not mandated by the Constitution. Has original, or trial, jurisdiction in only rare instances . . . only rarely does a case originate at the Supreme Court level. Mostly works as an appellate court. Has appellate authority over cases decided by the US courts of appeals as well as over some cases decided in the state courts when federal questions are at issue.
Constitutional law
Law based on the US Constitiution and the constitutions of the various states
Statuatory law
The body of law enacted by legislatures (as opposed to constitutional law, administrative law, or case law)
affirmative action
A policy calling for the establishment of programs that involve giving preference, in jobs and college admissions, to members of groups that have been discriminated against in the past.
civil law
The branch of law that spells out the duties that individuals in society owe to other persons or to their governments, excluding the duty not to commit crimes.
criminal law
The branch of law that defines and governs actions that constitute crimes. Generally, criminal law has to do with wrongful actions committed against society for which society demands redress.
judicial review
The power of the courts to decide on the constitutionality of legislative enactments and of actions taken by the executive branch.
Marbury v. Madison
Case in which Supreme Court claimed the power of judicial review. Decided by the Court in 1803, Chief Justice John Marsall held that a provision of a 1789 law affecting the Supreme Court's jurisdiction violated the Constitution and was thus void.
writ of certiorari
An order from a higher court asking a lower court for the record of a case
precedent
A court decision that funishes an example or authority for deciding subsequent cases involving identical or similar facts and legal issues.
stare decisis
A common law doctrine under which judges normally are obligated to follow the precedents established by prior court decisions.
standing
. . .to sue. The requirement that an individual must have a sufficient stake in a controversy before he or she can bring a lawsuit. The party bringing the suit must demonstrate that he or she has either been harmed or been threatened with a harm.
oral argument
An argument presented to a judge in person by an attorney on behalf of her or his client
writ of certiorari
An order from a higher court asking a lower court for the record of a case
precedent
A court decision that funishes an example or authority for deciding subsequent cases involving identical or similar facts and legal issues.
stare decisis
A common law doctrine under which judges normally are obligated to follow the precedents established by prior court decisions.
standing
. . .to sue. The requirement that an individual must have a sufficient stake in a controversy before he or she can bring a lawsuit. The party bringing the suit must demonstrate that he or she has either been harmed or been threatened with a harm.
oral argument
An argument presented to a judge in person by an attorney on behalf of her or his client
majority opinion
The opinion held by most of the justices, written to outline the reasons for the Court's decision, the rules of law that apply, and the judgment.
dissenting opinion
A statement written by a judge or justice who disagrees with the majority opinion
concurring opinion
A statement written by a judge or justice who agreees (concurs) with the court's decision, but for reasons different from those in the majority opinion.
briefs on the merits
The written records on the case and the written arguments submitted by the attorneys.
amicus curaie brief
Friend of the court briefs. Written agruments by experts outside the legal system, ie doctors.
judicial activism
An activist judege or justice believes that the courts should actively use their powers to check the actions of the legislative and executive branches to ensure that they do not exceed their authority. Often linked with liberalism, but not necessarily.
judicial restraint
A restraintist judge or justice generally assumes that the courts should defer to the decisions of the legislative and executive branches, because members of Congress and the president are elected by the people whereas federal court judges are not. The courts should not thwart the implementation of legislative acts unless they are clearly unconstitutional.
judicial nominee
All federal judges are appointed. Article II section 2 of the Constitution authorizes the president to appoint the justices of the Supreme Court wit hthe advice and consent of the Senate. Laws enacted by Congress provide that the same procedure be used for appointing judges to the lower federal courts as well. They receive lifetime appointments, may be removed from office through the impeachment process. No specific qualifications, but all have been judges.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the US Constitution. They list the freedoms--such as the freedoms of speech, press, and religion--that a person enjoys and that cannot be infringed on by the government.
civil liberties
Individual rights protected by the Constitution against the powers of government.
writ of habeas corpus
An order that requires an official to bring a specified prisoner into court and explain to the judge why the person is being held in prison.
ex post facto law
A criminal law that punishes individuals for commiting an act that was legal when the act was committed but that has since become a crime.
1st amendment freedoms (speech, press, assembly)
Freedom of expression, interpreted to protect not only spoken words, but symbolic speech (involving actions and other nonverbal expression). The right to free speech is not absolute, unprotected speech includes libel and slander, fighting words, and obscenity. Press is free to publish wide range of opinions and information. Government allowed to restrain speech only when that speech clearly presents an immediate threat to public order "clear and present danger." Censorship is sometimes allowed. Right of people to "peaceably assemble" and communicate their ideas on public issues to government officials and other individuals. Parades, marches, protests, and other demonstrations are allowed through these rights.
free exercise clause
Forbids the passage of laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Protects a person's right to worship or believe as he or she wishes without government interference. Does not mean that individuals can act in any way they want on the basis of their religious beliefs. The doctrines of religious beliefs are not superior to the law.
Lemon test
A 3 part test enunciated by the Supreme Court in teh 1971 case of Lemon v. Kurtzman to determine whether government aid to parocial schools is constitutional. To be consitutional, the aid must:
1) be for a clearly secular purpose
2)in its primary effect neither advance nor inhibit religion
3)aviod an "excessive government entanglement with religion"
establishment clause
forbids the government to extablish an official religion
Miranda rights
A series of statements informing criminal suspects, on their arrest , of their consitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent and the right to counsel; required by the Supreme Court's 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona
probable cause
Cause for believing that there is a substantial likelihood that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime
right to privacy
includes issues about abortion, assisted suicide, sex, etc.
due process clause
the consitutional guaratee, set out in the 5th and 14th amendments, that the government will not illegally or arbitratily deprive a person of life, liberty, or property
due process of law
The requirement that the government use fair, reasonable, and standard procedures whenevery it takes any legal action against an individual; required by the 5th and 14th amendments
civil rights
The rights of all Americans to equal treatment under the law, as provided for by the 14th amendment to the Constitution
14th amendment
Part of Civil war amendments, says all persons born or naturalized in the US and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the US and of the State wherein they reside. States can't make any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the US, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without dues process of the law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
equal protection clause
Section 1 of the 14th amendment which staes that no state shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law"
suspect classification
A classification based on race, for example that provides the basis for a discriminatory law. Any law based on a suspect classification is subject to strict scrutiny by the courts--meaning that the law must be justified by a compelling state interest
separate-but-equal doctrine
A Supreme Court doctrine holding that the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment did not forbid racial segregation as long as the facilities for blacks were equal to those provided for whites. The doctrine was overturned in the Brown v Board of Education decision of 1954
de jure discrimination
Discrimination that is legally sanctioned--that is, discrimination that occurs because of laws or decisions by government agencies
de facto discrimination
Discrimination that occurs not as a result of a deliberate intentions but because of past social and economic conditions and residential patterns