Federal Judiciary Process Essay, Research Paper
The Federal Judiciary System
The federal Judiciary is made up of a three-tiered court system. At the bottom are the federal district courts, the middle is the appellate courts, and the top level is the Supreme Court.
District courts are at the bottom of the three-tier federal court system. The district courts are the beginning for most federal cases. District courts are trial courts; the district courts hear the testimony about the facts of a case. On average district courts handle more than 250,000 thousand cases a year, with only a small percentage of the criminal and civil cases actually going to trial.
The second tier consists of the appellate courts or the court of appeals. After a district court hears the facts of a case and issues a decision, the decision can be appealed. The appeals are then heard by the appellate court system. Appellate courts can only consider questions of law and legal interpretation; in most cases, the appellate court must accept the lower courts factual findings. Decisions made in the appellate courts are final, unless the Supreme Court agrees to hear a further appeal.
The Supreme Court is at the top and its function is to hear appeals regarding decisions made at lower level federal courts and state supreme courts. The Supreme Court is also in place to resolve conflicts or issues of constitutional and federal law and interpret the constitution. The Supreme Court is the ultimate authority in constitutional interpretation and its decisions can only be changed by an amendment to the constitution. The most important responsibility that the Supreme Court has to deal with is the decisions regarding if a law or government action violates the constitution. Judicial review therefore puts the Supreme Court in a crucial role in the American political system, making it the referee in disputes among various branches of government, and as the ultimate authority for many of the most important issues in the country.
Dred Scott was a slave during the early 1800 s, he was owned by a man named Peter Blow. In 1832, Peter Blow died and Scott was sold to an Army surgeon named Dr, John Emerson. Emerson later took Scott to the free state of Illinois, and in the spring of 1836, Emerson took Scott to a fort in the Wisconsin territory . While at that location Scott married a Slave by the name of Harriet Robinson . Harriet s ownership was then transferred to Emerson. Scott had lived in Illinois for two years before moving with his master to Wisconsin, this two year stay had given him the legal standing to make a claim for his freedom, As did his stay in Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited. Unfortunately, Scott never made his claim while living in the free lands. Emerson was eventually transferred south to Louisiana, temporarily leaving Scott behind. A year later Emerson sent for Scott, Scott and Harriet traveled the approximate 1000 miles unaccompanied and joined Emerson in Louisiana. Emerson died in 1843 and his wife hired out Scott to an Army Captain. Scott attempted to buy his freedom from Emerson s widow for $300.00 and the offer was refused. After that, Scott attempted to achieve his freedom through the courts.
Scott went to trial in 1847, but lost on a technicality . In 1848 The Missouri Supreme court decided that the case should be retried , and in the 1850 retrial, the ST. Louis circuit court decide that Scott and his family were free. Two years later, the supreme court of Missouri reversed the decision. Scott and his lawyers then brought the case to a federal court, the United States Circuit Court in Missouri. In 1854, the circuit court upheld the decision of the Missouri Supreme Court. Scott then appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
In 1856 the supreme court handed down the decision that the lower courts ruling was to be upheld, on the basis that, because Scott was black, he was therefore not a citizen of the united states and had no legal right to sue. The decision also declared that the Missouri compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional .
This decision was well received by slaveholders in the south, but many northerners were outraged. This decision greatly influenced the nomination of Abraham Lincoln to the Republican Party and his subsequent election, which in turn led to the south secession from the union, and eventually led into the beginning of the civil war.
The Supreme Court decision in this case is so important because it started the wheels of progress rolling in the right direction. It forever changed the lives of African-Americans as well as the people s thoughts on slavery. African Americans were able to become citizens of the United States after the south was defeated in the civil war. I believe this case to be so important because it was a mans fight for freedom, that planted the seed, in the minds of people who had the ability to change the laws, so that all men are created equal. President Lincoln said it best when he said, A house divided against itself cannot stand This government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free .
Sidlow, Edward., and Beth Henschen. America at odds. California: Wadsworth
Thompson learning, 2000
The United States Federal Courts 10 May 2001. Online.
United States Federal Courts 11 May 2001.Online.
Impact of Dred Scott 10th May 2001.Online
The Dred Scott case 11 May 2001. Online.
Federal Courts #20. Rochester institute of technology, Distant Learning.
American Politics. 2001