AG Ch 18-4 The Special Courtsx

 The federal court system is made up of two quite
distinct types of courts
 1) constitutional, or regular courts
 2) special courts
 Special courts were created by Congress to hear
certain cases involving the expressed powers of
 These courts (aka legislative courts) were not
established under Article III
 They don’t exercise the broad “judicial power of
the USA”
 Each court has very narrow jurisdiction
 The US government cannot be sued by
anyone, in any court, for any reason, without
its consent
 Suits may be brought only if the Congress
says the USA is open to suit
 Originally, a person with a claim against the
US could secure REDRESS (satisfaction of a
claim or payment) only be an act of Congress
 1855—Congress sets up the Court of Claims
 This body became the US Court of Federal
Claims in 1993
 16 judges appointed by the President and
approved by the Senate for 15-year terms
 They hold trials throughout the country
 Hear claims for damages against the Federal
 Claims upheld by this court cannot be paid
unless Congress appropriates the money
 Appeals from this court may be carried to the
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
 Congress acted under its power to “make all
needful Rules and Regulations respecting th
Territory…belonging to the USA”
 Courts created for each of the nation’s
territories: Virgin Islands, Guam, and the
Northern Marianas Islands
 These courts function much like the local
courts in the 50 states
 Congress has the power to oversee judicial
cases in DC (Article I, Section 8, Clause 17)
 Federal District Court, Court of Appeals
 Local courts established:
 1) superior court (general trial court)
 2) court of appeals
 1789—Congress created a system of military courts
for each branch of the military
 These military courts (aka COURTS-MARTIAL) serve
the special disciplinary needs of the armed forces
and are NOT a part of the federal judicial system
 All court officers are members of the military—
mainly officers
 1950—Congress created the Court of Military
Appeals for the Armed Forces
 This court is a civilian court separate from the
military courts
 5 judges—a chief judge and 4 associate
 Appointed by the President and confirmed by
the Senate for 15-year terms
 A limited number of decisions from this court
could be appealed to the US Supreme Court
 This court is usually the last word for military
persons trying to change the decision of their
 2003—court-like bodies composed of
commissioned officers created by President
George W. Bush
 These tribunals are not part of the courts-martial
 These commissions were set up to try “enemy
combatants”, mostly suspected terrorists
captured by American forces in Iraq and
 Most captives are held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
 These detainees include hundreds of people
suspected of belonging to al Qaida and others
who have committed violence against the USA
 The President, as Commander-in-chief, created
these commission by Executive Order
 2006—US Supreme Court ruled that the
President had overstepped his authority in the
case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
 The Court directed Bush to work with Congress
to develop new procedures for prosecuting
 Military tribunals have been established at
various points in America’s past
 Mexican-American War, Civil War, and WWII
 1942—Roosevelt created a tribunal to try 8
Nazi saboteurs who were landed on the East
Coast by submarine
 All 8 were convicted—6 executed, 2 received
long prison terms because they gave up
 Article I, Section 8, Clause 9
 Congress has the authority to constitute inferior
tribunals to the supreme court
 Created in 1988
 Chief Judge and up to 6 associate judges
 Appointed by the President and confirmed by
the Senate for 15-year terms
 This court hears appeals from the Board of
Veterans Appeals in the Department of Veterans
 This court deals with veterans who claim the
VA has mishandled valid claims for veterans’
 Appeals from this court can be taken to the
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
 Acting under its power to tax, Congress
created this court in 1969
 Independent judicial body in the legislative
 It is not part of the federal court system
 1 Chief Judge and 18 associate judges
nominated by the President and confirmed
by the Senate for 15-year terms
 This court hears civil cases involving disputes
over the tax code
 Most of the cases are generated by the
Internal Revenue Service
 This court’s decisions may be appealed to the
federal court of appeals

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