Video:The US Federal Court Systemwith Robert Longley
The US federal courts exist to fairly and impartially interpret and apply the law. Here's a brief overview of how the US federal court system works.See Transcript
Transcript:The US Federal Court System
Creation of the US Federal CourtsThe US federal courts exist to fairly and impartially interpret and apply the law, resolve disputes and, perhaps most importantly, to protect the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. The very first bill considered by the U.S. Senate -- the Judiciary Act of 1789 -- divided the country into 12 judicial districts or "circuits." The court system is further divided into 94 eastern, central and southern "districts" geographically across the country. Within each district, one court of appeals, regional district courts and bankruptcy courts are established. Under the Constitution, judges of all federal courts are appointed for life by the President of the United States, with the approval of the Senate. Federal judges can be removed from office only through impeachment and conviction by Congress.
The Supreme Court and Court of AppealsThe Supreme Court: The Chief Justice and eight associate justices of the Supreme Court hear and decide cases involving important questions about the interpretation and fair application of the Constitution and federal law. Cases typically come to the Supreme Court as appeals to decisions of lower federal and state courts. The Courts of Appeals: Each of the 12 regional circuits has one U.S. Court of Appeals that hears appeals to decisions of the district courts located within its circuit and appeals to decisions of federal regulatory agencies. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction and hears specialized cases like patent and international trade cases.
Other Parts of the Federal Court SystemThe District Courts: Considered the trial courts of the federal judicial system, the 94 district courts, located within the 12 regional circuits, hear all cases involving federal civil and criminal laws. Decisions of the district courts are typically appealed to the district's court of appeals. The Bankruptcy Courts: The federal courts have jurisdiction over all bankruptcy cases. Bankruptcy cannot be filed in state courts. Special Courts: Two special courts have nationwide jurisdiction over special types of cases: the U.S. Court of International Trade - hears cases involving U.S. trade with foreign countries and customs issues; and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims - considers claims for monetary damages made against the U.S. government, federal contract disputes and disputed "takings" or claiming of land by the federal government.
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