The Supreme Court of the USA

  • Created by: Jess
  • Created on: 11-04-13 16:51
How does the supreme court stand in relation to the other branches of government?
Separate - physically & constitutionally.
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How long do supreme court judges serve?
For life.
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How many Supreme Court judges are there?
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Who are federal judges appointed by?
The President, with the 'advice and consent of the Senate'
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Once appointed, who does the candidate stand before?
The Senate Judiciary Committee.
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What does the Senate Judiciary Committee do?
It will give a recommendation to the full senate & then there is a vote of the full senate (more than 50% of the vote is sufficient for the appointment to be ratified)
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What is judicial review?
The power to assess the constitutionality of any law or action undertaken by either federal or state government
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Where was the principle of judicial review established?
In the case Marbury v Madison (1803) as the then Chief Justice, John Marshall asserted: 'it is emphatically the province & duty of the judicial department to say what the law is'
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What are the arguments for judicial review?
That it is essential if the judiciary are to effectively enforce checks & balances on the other branches of government
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What are the arguments against judicial review?
That it is unfair that unelected judges have the power to make decisions that can dramatically change peoples lives.
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What is the difference between an appellate court & original jurisdiction?
Appellate court is where appeals are submitted to it by lower federal & state courts & the Supreme Court decides which of these it will hear. Original Jurisdiction is when it starts in the Court.
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What is the rule of four?
If at least 4 of the 9 judges wish to hear the case it will be heard.
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What does a 'Majority opinion' explain?
Why a decision has been reached
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What does a 'minority opinion' explain?
Why some of the justices were unable to agree.
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What does strict constructionism do?
It limits judges to following the precise or literal meaning of the relevant section when interpreting the constitution & its amendments. May also use written evidence from those who wrote the constitution to 'construct' what the section was intended
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Why do strict constructionists argue that their method is appropriate?
They argue that unelected judges should restrain themselves from exceeding their power to interpret the law when it is the subject of a dispute & so should avoid striking down federal or local laws unless they have clearly breached the constitution.
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What do critics say about strict constructionism?
That it leads to a very narrow interpretation of the constitution that has limited the development of civil liberties that were not expressly provided by those Founding Fathers.
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How do strict constitutionalists respond to criticisms?
By arguing that the constitution has been amended on several occasions to respond to changes in society.
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What is strict constructionalism usually associated with?
Relatively conservative judicial philosophies such as orignalism. This is because it will tend to produce rulings that are consistent with the arms of the FF who created the constitution more than 200 years ago.
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What is loose constructionism?
It allows judges to go beyond the literal or original meanings of the text when interpreting the constitution. Judges consider how the meaning of the relevant section should be 'constructed' in line with contemporary social attitudes.
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What is loose constructionism usually associated with?
Liberal judicial philosophies such as judicial activism.
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What do loose constructionalists argue?
That judges should take an active role in bringing about change because they do not have to worry about re-election. They can therefore ensure that all Americans are protected under the Constitution.
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When did loose constructionism dominate?
The mid-1950s to the early 1970s, when activist judges such as Thurgood Marshall interpreted the Constitution to protect a range of civil liberties.
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What did the court rule in Roe v Wade (1973)
The court interpreted the 9th Amendment as providing for a right to privacy & extended this interpretation to justify a woman's right to abort a pregnancy.
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What are loose constructionists accused of?
'Legislating from the bench' by creating rights based on personal belief rather than on the wishes of the Founding Fathers. In doing so, they undermine the constitutions role in separating the powers of the 3 branches of government
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What is judicial restraint?
Where the court is viewed as a neutral referee & very much inferior branch of government.
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What is judicial activism?
Implies the court puts itself on a more even footing with the other branches of government, seeing itself as integral to the shaping of public policy & less inclined to observe precedent.
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What are "amicus curiae" briefs?
"Friends of the Court" briefs come from interest groups & other interested parties. They can be very influential & can provide expertise which the justices cannot be expected to possess all matters.
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Card 2


How long do supreme court judges serve?


For life.

Card 3


How many Supreme Court judges are there?


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Card 4


Who are federal judges appointed by?


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Card 5


Once appointed, who does the candidate stand before?


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