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Federal Courts and Jurisdiction
Santa Clara University School of Law
Ware, James

I. Judicial Power of the Courts
A. Legislative Courts
1. Art. I sect. 8 cl. 9 gives Congress the power “To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court”
2. Examples
a) United States Tax Court
(1) taxpayer dispute
(2) can sue prior to paying taxes in tax court, but in dist. court must pay taxes first
(3) standard of review: abuse of discretion when challenging IRS; de novo when challenging tax liability
b) United States Court of Federal Claims
(1) cases regarding contracts (usually disappointed bidders) with fed. gov’t
(2) judges hold bench trials; can be in other countries
c) United States territorial courts
d) United States bankruptcy courts
e) Courts-martial in the U.S. armed forces
f) Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences
g) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board
h) Federal magistrate courts
(1) may practice civil law if serving part time
(2) 8-year terms
(3) work under the direct supervision of U.S. Dist. Courts
i) Administrative law adjudicative entities
(1) e.g. Social Security Administration, USDA
(2) Congress may assign certain matters to a federal agency, and include adjudicatory authority for parties challenging the agency’s decision. In these cases, the agencyt may continue the legislation even when a party files suit in an Art. III court.
(a) i.e. the lawsuit does not divest the agency of jurisdiction
3. Judges serve a term
4. Judgments appealed to Art III courts
a) sometimes U.S. DIst. Ct., other times Circuit Courts
B. Article III Courts
1. Art. III sect. 1: The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.
2. Art III sect. 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;— between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under the Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
3. Offices held for life during “good behavior.”
4. Salaries cannot be decreased.
5. Focus is on independence from the legislative and executive branches.
a) Has Congress declared it so?
(1) must be expressly declared so by Congress
(a) i.e. Dist. Court SMJ must be enumerated in a specific Act of Congress
(2) Glidden v. Zdanok, 370 U.S. 530 (1962)
(a) Holding
(i) Court of Claims and Court of Customs Appeals are Article III Courts
(ii) the judge of a Court is going to take on the characteristic of the court.
they found
courts (in both cases) were created under article III, judges were independent, no review by another branch
(iii) biggest concern was the fact that Congress has to appropriate funds for Court of Customs…
because created by article III and judicial independence, then Art. III and presiding judges O.K.
b) One of the nine cases or controversies?
(1) Remember that Congress may limit, but may not expand (absent Constitutional Amendment), cases heard by the District Courts
c) Independence of the presiding judge?
(1) life tenure and salary protection
(2) disposition of cases in a judicial manner
(a) due process
(b) separation of powers
(c) no advisory opinions
(d) no promulgation of rules of general application
(3) finality may not be dependent on another body’s review
C. The Supreme Court
1. Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803).
a) It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each. (@ 177)
b) If then the courts are to regard the constitution; and the constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature; the constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply. (@ 178)
c) Political question doctrine
(1) where a duty is discretionary, the Supreme Court shall not hear it.
(2) where a duty which affects the rights of citizens is imposed or proscribed upon an official by law, that official shall be held answerable to the injured party for dereliction of such duty.
2. Review of State laws
a) Supreme Court may review state laws for errors in federal law, but review is limited to final judgments rendered by the highest reviewing court in a state, and is limited to 3 categories of cases (28 U.S.C. 1257):
(1) validity of U.S. statute or treaty questioned
(2) questioning whether State statute violates federal law
(3) cases “where any title, right, privilege, or immunity is specially set up or claimed under the Constitution or treaties or statutes of, or any commission held or authority exercised under, the United States.”
D. Standards of Proof
1. Burden of proof
a) Burden of production
(1) a party has burden of production if failure to provide proof will result in a judgment against the party
b) Burden of persuasion
(1) Preponderance
(2) Clear and Convincing
E. Standards of Review
1. Agency deference
a) allowing the agency’s position to stand even if the court would take a different position
b) credibility findings by hearings officers
c) BUT less deference if conflicts with agency’s earlier interpretation
d) not warranted if courts have experience in the area and are competent to decide the issue
2. Agency arbitrary and capricious
a) court must consider whether agency’s decision was based on a consideration of relevant factors as opposed to factors which the governing law had not intended be considered or if the agency has failed to consider an important as

(b) test: individual faced with choice between subjecting herself to punishment and forgoing activities she believes are lawful
(2) fitness of the issues for judicial decision
(a) Id.
(b) test: parties are able to develop factual record enabling a proper legal decision
4. Political Question
a) Political question doctrine
(1) where a duty is discretionary, the Supreme Court shall not hear it.
(2) where a duty which affects the rights of citizens is imposed or proscribed upon an official by law, that official shall be held answerable to the injured party for dereliction of such duty.
b) two-prong test from Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 217 (1962).
(1) controversy nonjusticiable if
(a) the Constitution’s text relegates the issue to a branch of government other than the judiciary, OR
(b) there is a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the controversy
H. Federal Question SMJ
1. general review: three requirements for a case to be brought
a) personal jurisdiction
(1) A district court located in a state which can exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant
b) SMJ
c) venue
(1) a court located in a district which meets the requirements of 28 u.s.c. 1391 or a special federal venue statute
(a) two basic tests
(i) D resides there
(ii) substantial portion of events took place there
2. 28 U.S.C. 1331
a) The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States.
b) Also, see Art. III sect. 2
(1) Nine categories of Cases
(a) Vindicate and enforce powers of the Federal Government
(i) Cases arising under the Constitution, treaties and laws of the United States
(ii) Cases in which the U.S. is a party
(iii) ambassadors and other public ministers or consuls
(iv) admiralty or maritime
(v) cases btwn. state & foreign country
(b) Resolving dispute between States and their citizens
(i) cases btwn. 2+ states
(ii) cases btwn. state and citizen of another state
repealed by 11th Amendment after Chisholm v. Georgia
(iii) between citizens of different states
(iv) between citizens of the same state claiming land in another state
3. four jurisdictional entrances to a federal court
a) federal question
b) diversity
c) from state (supreme) court
(1) usually there would have to be diversity or federal question in order to be removed through the state court