Gov: Court System Review

The U.S. judicial system has evolved over more than two centuries to meet the needs of a changing society. Today’s federal and state courts not only resolve conflicts, but also shape public policy through the judicial review process.

The U.S. has two separate but related court systems, one federal and one state. The two systems maintain exclusive jurisdiction in some areas but overlap when cases involve both state and federal laws.

Each state has its own hierarchy of courts. Trial courts of limited and general jurisdiction handle most cases. Intermediate appeals courts and state courts of last resort review cases appealed from the lower courts.

Most cases involving federal law and the Constitution are tried in U.S. district courts. Decisions made there can be appealed to higher courts, including the Supreme Court. The federal judicial system also includes special courts with very specific jurisdictions.

Many state judges are elected or appointed by the governor or legislature. In states using merit selection, judges are appointed and then confirmed by voters in a retention election. Federal judges are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

1) Judicial System Quiz: Chapter 15 pp.281-295 and Chapter 5 pp.83-97



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