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Federal Courts
South Texas College of Law Houston
Reed, Harry L.

Federal Courts
Reed
2010
 
 
I.                   Judicial Powers of the Federal Government
a.       Article III of the United States Constitution
                                                              i.      Lists the types of cases that can be heard in a federal court subject to the will of Congress. 
1.      The Supreme Court:  There shall be one Supreme Court and such inferior tribunals as Congress may create. 
a.       Congress cannot eliminate the U.S. Supreme Court. 
                                                                                                                                      i.      Original Jurisdiction of U.S. Supreme Court
1.      State v. State cases must be filed in S.Ct.
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Appellate jurisdiction of the S.Ct. can be tinkered with by Congress. 
1.      The Supreme Court chooses the cases it will hear based on whether they are important to the public. 
a.       The S.Ct. is not interested in correcting errors.
b.      Certiori writ should state how important, publicly the determination is and not why it was wrong. 
c.       The writ will usually be granted so long as at least 4 justices vote to hear the oral arguments. 
d.      The case must go through its highest possible court before a writ can be filed. 
2.      Judicial Supremacy:  The courts have the final voice on what the interpretation of the Constitution and constitutionality of the statutes. 
a.       The Court can hold that a law is not constitutional in a given fact situation, but it still could be constitutional in other situations. 
3.      Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee
a.       U.S. S.Ct can take appeals from state supreme court (final appeal)
b.      Lower Federal Courts
                                                                                                                                      i.      Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
1.      All lower federal courts were established by acts of Congress NOT the Constitution. 
2.      Include:
a.       Courts of Appeal by Circuit
b.      Federal District Court
3.      Federal District Courts are courts of original jurisdiction for a vast majority of cases brought in the federal system. 
c.       Federal Juries
                                                                                                                                      i.      Picked from counties within the division of the district.
d.      Separation of Powers
                                                                                                                                      i.      The determination/allocation of powers of regulation between the judicial, legislative, or  executive branch. 
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Comparing the Three Branches of Government
1.      The legislative body acts in the future.
a.       They make rules today that are applicable in the future.
b.      Example:  “You shall not…”
2.      The executive acts in the present.
a.       Example: “Do this…(arrest someone, invade a country)”
3.      The judiciary acts in the past tense. 
a.       Because of what happened in the past, I now seek remedy. 
2.      Sovereign Immunity:
a.       The United States cannot be sued unless it consents
                                                            ii.      Article III judges
1.      Appointed judges who are given life tenure and whose pay cannot be decreased. 
a.       An Art. IV judge cannot sit in an Art III case. 
2.      A Federal Judge may retire if he/she has had 10 years of service and attained the age of 70 or 15 years/65 years old.  
                                                          iii.      Article I judges
1.      Appointed judges who do not have life tenure or protected pay
a.       14 year terms
b.      Includes: 
                                                                                                                                      i.      Administrative Law Judges
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Territorial Courts
                                                                                                                                  iii.      Military Court Marshals
                                                                                                                                  iv.      Adjunct Courts (under supervision of District Courts)
1.      Bankruptcy Courts
2.      Magistrate Judges
3.      Government Claims
a.       Court of Federal Claims
b.      Tax Courts
c.       Washington DC judges do not have to be Art III judges.  Article I gives Congress the exclusive legislative power to make rules for DC.   
II.                Subject Matter Jurisdiction
a.       SMJ must be

ll not suffice to establish standing. 
                                                                                                                                      i.      A controversy must be RIPE for judicial review. 
                                                                                                                                    ii.      It cannot be hypothetical, conjectural, remote or an academic question. 
                                                                                                                                  iii.      The controversy cannot be MOOT. 
b.      Federal Question Jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. §1331)
                                                              i.      The judicial power of the United States “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”. 
                                                            ii.      “Cases Arising”
1.      General “case arising” jurisdiction did not exist until 1875. 
2.      The Ingredient Theory: 
a.       If any aspect of the case raised a federal “ingredient” there was federal jurisdiction.  This law was deemed to broad and was confined under case law to federally chartered corporations and banks where the U.S. owns more than 50% of the stock. 
3.      Enforcement of a Federally Created Right
a.       A cause of action must be created under federal law
b.      The suit must be to enforce a federally created right. 
                                                                                                                                      i.      Example:  Arguing that a patent was invalid or require interpretation of rights is not enough to put a case into federal court; the federally created right to federal court is for patent infringement. 
1.      There very well maybe a clear federal ingredient, but this is insufficient to meet the “arising from” requirement.