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Judicial Branch & Supreme Court

Judicial Branch & Supreme Court

Discussion and Essay Questions

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Sample of Discussion and Essay Questions

  1. The Littlest Government and The Judiciary of the Articles of Confederation
    • Why is a judicial branch so essential to a government?
    • Why, according to Hamilton, are laws “a dead letter without courts to expound and define their true meaning and operation.”
    • Can you think of any situation in which granting the states sole power to interpret federal laws would have been disastrous?
      • What if Southern states had been free to interpret for themselves the terms of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?
      • What if every state had the power to interpret federal tax laws?
    • What’s the bottom line: why did the framers of the Articles of Confederation not create a federal judiciary?
  2. Article III and the Birth of the Federal Judiciary and The Supreme Court
    • Who appoints federal judges?
    • Who must approve these appointments?
    • How long do judges serve?
    • Does this seem very democratic to you? Should so much power lie with the president and two-thirds of the Senate?
    • Is there an alternative? Should we elect judges? Should the people, at least, be allowed to approve appointments? Should we be able to vote them off the bench? Why is the Senate and not the House given the authority to approve appointments?
    • If judges sat for fixed terms, would the Court be more democratic?
  3. Federal Court Jurisdiction
    • What’s the difference between original and appellate jurisdiction?
    • What are the original and appellate jurisdictions of the Supreme Court?
    • Why is it more important for the Court to have extensive appellate rather than original jurisdiction?
    • What is the difference between a unanimous and split Court decision?
    • Why do some legal scholars argue that the best decisions are unanimous?
      • What does the Court hope to achieve through its rulings?