Chapter 14 - The Courts


Judicial Glossary

judicial review


Marbury v. Madison (1803)


criminal case


civil case


plea bargain






common (judge-made) law






stare decisis


original jurisdiction


appellate jurisdiction


federal question




rule of four


solicitor general


amicus curiae brief


judicial restraint


judicial activism






concurring opinion (concurrence)


dissenting opinion


senatorial courtesy


class action suit


U.S. Attorney (pg. 499)


1. "Deciding to decide" is an important aspect of Supreme Court policymaking. Explain the process by which (a) cases come to the the Supreme Court and (b) the way in which the Court controls its docket.









2. The solicitor general is an important actor in the federal judicial system. Give an example of conflicting pressures he or she could face.





3. Explain two ways in which judges can exercise a policymaking role.





4. The Supreme Court is a collection of nine independent-minded justices. Give an example of how the justices interract during the decision-making process. (pg. 484 - 485 [feature 14.2] )






5. Explain the specific ways a chief justice may exert leadership and wield power on the Court.





6. Federal judges hold their jobs "during good behavior" which means for life. Explain the process by which judges are selected for the federal judiciary.





7. Opinion writing is the justices' most critical function. Explain the role of law clerks in this process. (pg.488)





8. A president's judicial appiontments are likely to last far beyond his administration. They are part of his political legacy. Contrast the philosophy of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton with regard to Supreme Court appointments.(pgs.493-495)

a. Carter



b. Reagan and Bush



c. Clinton



9. Explain the specific reasons Judge Robert Bork's nomination was rejected by the Senate. (pg.496)




10. What controversy arose during Clarence Thomas's nomination hearings ?




11. Describe the main difference between federal district courts and U.S. circuit courts.

a. district courts


b. circuit courts