U.S. Government Divisions: 3 Branches, Federal v. State
I. Executive (E)
A. Powers (Art. II, Sect. 1 of U.S. Constitution; state constitutions):
1. implement & enforce laws
2. oversee public projects,
3. administer public benefit programs,
4. control law enforcement agencies,
5. may veto legislation (balances legislative branch (L)),
6. may convene & adjourn congress (balances L),
7. make judicial nominations (balances judicial branch (J)),
8. may direct attorney general not to enforce laws (balances L&J).
B. Powers vested in: President (federal), Governor (state)
II. Legislative (L)
C. Powers (Article I, Sect. 8; state constitutions):
1. lay & collect taxes;
2. borrow money;
3. regulate commerce (with foreign nations & between states);
4. establish uniform naturalization & bankruptcy laws;
5. create copyright laws/ punish counterfeiting;
6. enact or refuses to enact E’s requested legislation (balances E);
7. may enact legislation that supersedes common law (balances J);
8. may establish inferior federal courts (balances J);
9. consent to or reject E’s judicial nominations (balances J (& E)).
D. Powers vested in: Congress (federal): House & Senate.
E. Powers not given to congress are given to the state or people (Article 10).
F. Congress shares law making power with E., e.g., Congress passed the Internal Revenue Code but the IRS (part of E.) promulgates the regulations needed to implement the code.
III. Judicial (J)
G. Powers (Article III Sect. I, state constitutions):
H. Powers vested in: U.S. Supreme Court & such inferior courts as congress establishes; state courts as established by state constitutions.
I. Hierarchical Nature of the Court System (See box on pg. 5)
1. Trial Court (fact finding)
a) hears evidence,
b) enters judgment.
1) Jury decides questions of fact (e.g., whether the elements of action were proven).*
2) Judge decides questions of law (e.g., whether evidence is admissible).
*If there is no jury, judge decides Q’s of fact & law.
2. Intermediate Courts of Appeals (review trial courts)
1) whether trial court applied the right law correctly (e.g., whether trial court erred in denying motion to suppress) &
2) whether there is sufficient evidence to
3. United States Court of Appeals = appellate level
a) 13 circuits (See map on pg. 8):
1) 11 numbered circuits,
2) The District of Columbia Circuit &
3) The Federal Circuit.
b) Reviews US Court of Federal Claims & US Court of International Trade decisions and some administrative decisions.
c) Publication (not all cases are published):
1) Federal Reporter, Third Series
4. the Supreme Court = highest federal court/court of last resort
a) only hears cases regarding federal constitutional law & federal statute law.
b) Each year the Supreme Court receives 7,000+ requests for review (writs of certiorari); it reviews approximately 100 (the majority are appeals from federal courts).
c) Publication (all cases are published):
1) United States Reports (official)
2) West’s Supreme Court Reporter (unofficial)
3) United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer’s Edition (unofficial)
K. State Courts (See chart on pg. 10)