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Federal Courts
University of Florida School of Law
Rush, Sharon Elizabeth

Fall 2007
Professor Sharon Rush
1)     Creation of Jurisdiction
a)     Article III:
i)        “The 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.”
ii)      “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties … to Controversies between Citizens of different states …”
iii)    Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in all cases affecting ambassadors, public ministers and consuls, and cases in which a State shall be a party.”
iv)    “In all other cases, Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such Exceptions and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”
(a)   what does this mean? what exceptions and regulations are permitted?
(b)   If Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction, then doesn’t some lower court have to have original jurisdiction
(c)   Why not let state court hear these claims? Aren’t they just as well suited to the task?
b)     There must be both a constitutional and statutory basis for jurisdiction
c)      Congress can rein in jurisdiction, but it can’t expand it. Marbury v. Madison.
d)     State and federal courts share concurrent jurisdiction over federal questions, but federal courts retain exclusive jurisdiction over certain issues such as bankruptcy and tax
2)     To what extent can Congress limit the jurisdiction of lower federal courts?
a)     Justice Story’s theory – Constitution vests “whole judicial power of the United States” in federal courts, in either appellate or original jurisdiction to be set by Congress
b)     Essential Functions – Exceptions implies that Congress cannot limit jurisdiction as to impede on the essential functions of the court
i)        what are the essential functions of federal courts?
c)      Access to Court – Access to courts must be preserved, but Constitution is indifferent whether access comes through state or federal court
d)     Sheldon v. Sill – Congress’ power to alter jurisdiction is unlimited since Congress has the power to create lower federal courts or abolish them.
i)        “Having a right to prescribe, Congress may withhold from any court of its creation jurisdiction of any of the enumerated controversies.” (248)
ii)      Webster v. Doe – Court could not review firing of CIA agent because of a statute that gave CIA d

slative Courts
a)     Types of courts:
i)        Territorial courts – judges appointed with limited tenure
ii)      Military courts – judges have no independence, no salary protection, no life tenure. In fact, they are beholden to superior officers. But courts have full board to adjudicate claims, even impose capital punishment
iii)    Administrative Agencies or “Public Rights” claims – adjudicate claims between a citizen and government over benefits
(a)   courts can’t hear disputes between two private parties
iv)    Bankruptcy courts – judges serve 7-year terms without salary protection
v)      Tax court
b)     What is the difference between Art. I and Art. III courts?
i)        independence of judges
ii)      both courts arguably afford parties due process and fairness
iii)    states often have no role in Art. I courts
iv)    Art. I courts carry cases with a “low federal interest” that can be technical
Art. I courts can specialize, increasing the efficiency of the federal court caseload