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What is the role of the judicial branch?
To interpret the laws of the United States
To make the laws of the United States
To carry out and execute the laws of the United States
All of the above
Question 1 Explanation:
The judicial branch is tasked with interpreting United States law, including the Constitution. They exercise jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not those laws have been broken.
What is the process for filling a vacant federal judgeship?
Federal judges are directly appointed by the president.
Federal judges are appointed by the president, but must be approved by the Senate.
Federal judges are nominated by other members of the federal judiciary and approved by Congress.
Federal judges are nominated by other members of the federal judiciary and approved by the president.
Question 2 Explanation:
Through the appointment process, the judicial branch is subject to checks and balances by the executive and the legislative branches. The executive branch has the authority to make the appointments while the Senate has the authority to approve or block said appointments through a simple majority vote.
What was the purpose of the 1789 Judiciary Act?
To create a series of district and circuit courts to help manage the federal caseload
To give the Supreme Court authority to handle inter-state disputes
To set the number of Supreme Court justices at six
All of the above
Question 3 Explanation:
While the Constitution included a general idea of a judicial branch consisting of a Supreme Court and lower courts, the 1789 Judiciary Act actually established the working structure of this branch. The Act provided details regarding the authority of the Supreme Court and the number of justices it would have. It also created judicial districts and the courts that would preside in them, and established the circuit court system.
How did the creation of federal appeals courts in 1891 change the structure of the judicial branch?
Federal appeals courts became an intermediary step between the federal district courts and the Supreme Court.
Federal appeals courts became the highest-ranking courts in the federal government.
Federal appeals courts became the lowest-level courts in the federal court system.
Federal appeals courts took over all cases involving inter-state disputes.
Question 4 Explanation:
The addition of the appeals courts in 1891 created the existing federal court structure of the United States judicial branch. District courts are the entry-level courts. Decisions from the district courts can be appealed to the appeals courts. The Supreme Court hears cases that have been appealed and that they deem worthy of consideration; this usually involves cases with constitutional implications.
What does the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” mean for someone who has been accused of a crime?
To avoid conviction, innocence must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
The accuser is responsible for proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Cases can be retried over and over again until a conviction is achieved.
The accused is entitled to both an attorney and a trial by jury.
Question 5 Explanation:
The American judicial system puts the burden of proof on the accuser in criminal cases; this means that a defendant is presumed innocent unless it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are guilty.
Which of the following represents a case outside the jurisdiction of the federal courts?
A woman feels like her school has violated her right to freely practice her religion.
A man sues his neighbor for $12,000 worth of damage caused by a fallen tree.
A man in Georgia has a complaint against a Florida business.
A man is accused of counterfeiting $20 bills.
Question 6 Explanation:
State judicial systems handle crimes that do not cross state lines, involve less than $50,000 worth of damages, and do not involve federal law.
Which of the following cases could be considered under the jurisdiction of both state and federal courts?
A farmer in Nebraska is suing a seed distribution company located in Texas.
A man robs his local post office.
A U.S. diplomat from Oregon is accused of breaking a law while on assignment at an embassy in Brazil.
A woman is accused of making counterfeit money in her garage.
Question 7 Explanation:
In this particular case, the farmer has the option to bring his suit in either Nebraska (where his farm is located), Texas (where the company he is suing is located), or federal court (since the suit crosses state lines). This type of situation is known as concurrent jurisdiction.
Which of the following is the starting place for all federal cases?
Federal district court
Federal appellate court
The Supreme Court
Question 8 Explanation:
District courts are where all federal cases are initially heard. Depending on the outcome of the district court trial, the case can move up to higher federal courts through the appeals process.
How many United States federal district courts are there?
Question 9 Explanation:
There are 94 U.S. federal district courts. Every state has at least one judicial district; however, more populated regions have more district courts. Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all have federal district courts as well.
What is the role of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit?
To preview potential Supreme Court cases before they are officially added to the docket
To oversee the 12 United States Courts of Appeals
To hear cases pertaining to international trade and patents
All of the above
Question 10 Explanation:
Situated in Washington, D.C., the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is the only appeals court with national jurisdiction. The court’s main purview are appeals court cases with international economic implications.
In regard to a criminal case, how do procedures in a federal appeals court differ from those in a federal district court?
Federal appellate courts do not hold trials.
Federal appellate courts are overseen by a panel of judges as opposed to district courts which each have a single judge.
Federal appellate courts evaluate whether a trial was carried out in a fair and legal way whereas federal district courts rule on the guilt or innocence of the accused.
All of the above
Question 11 Explanation:
Federal appellate courts review findings made by the district courts and have the options of upholding the decision, reversing the decision, or directing the district court system to hold the trial again. A panel of judges comes to this decision; the majority opinion is the final decision.
The principle of stare decisis is the policy of courts
to respect all legal rights that are owed to a person.
to make the loser pay for the costs of the trial.
to adhere to principles established by decisions in earlier cases.
to provide a lawyer to defendants who cannot afford one.
Question 12 Explanation:
“Stare decisis” literally translates as “to stand by decided matters.” This is also known as the doctrine of precedent. In the United States, courts seek to follow precedent whenever possible, seeking to maintain stability and continuity in the law.
What is the purpose of a judge’s formal opinion?
To offer an evaluation of the laws involved in the particular case
To explain the decision-making process behind a legal decision
To establish the degree to which the decision should be considered legal precedent
All of the above
Question 13 Explanation:
A judge’s opinion comes after a decision has been rendered by the court. In the decision, the judge reviews the key components of the case, assesses the pertinent laws, and gives justification for the outcome. Judges often use their opinions to set the tone for how strong or weak a precedent the case has set in regards to the laws in question.
How long do federal judges serve?
Until age 62
Until age 65
Until retirement, death, or removal by impeachment
They must be reappointed every 8 years
Question 14 Explanation:
Federal judgeships are lifetime appointments. The only way a federal judge loses his or her seat is by retirement, death, or formal removal by congressional impeachment. This is why candidates for federal judgeships are usually carefully vetted and scrutinized before being nominated and approved.
What role do the U.S. Marshals fill as a part of the judicial branch?
They are the enforcers of the court and the court’s affairs.
They ensure judges follow the rules.
They communicate between the judicial branch and the other two federal branches.
They are the primary messengers between district and appellate courts.
Question 15 Explanation:
U.S. Marshals exist to keep order in federal courts and ensure their operations proceed smoothly. Their powers include collecting fines, making arrests, issuing subpoenas, transporting prisoners, and keeping court participants safe.
How does one become a U.S. Attorney?
U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the Supreme Court.
U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President and then approved by Congress.
U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the Supreme Court and then approved by Congress.
U.S. Attorneys are appointed by Congress and approved by the Supreme Court.
Question 16 Explanation:
U.S. Attorneys are nominated by the President and approved by a vote in Congress. U.S. Attorneys, unlike federal judges, only serve four-year terms.
Which of the following is the term for a judge that hears preliminary evidence, issues warrants, and makes decisions regarding bail for defendants awaiting trial?
Question 17 Explanation:
Magistrates do a lot of the key set-up work for the federal district courts. Their efforts help keep the dockets of the federal courts moving, and in some instances, they even hear cases deemed to be of lesser importance.
Which of the following cases would be under the direct jurisdiction of the United States Supreme Court?
New Jersey and New York are disputing ownership of a tract of land.
A business in Georgia is sued by a man in Wisconsin.
A man commits federal income tax fraud.
All of the above
Question 18 Explanation:
The Supreme Court has has original jurisdiction over suits between two or more states. They also hear cases regarding issues with diplomats from other nations. All other federal cases only come before the Supreme Court as a result of the appeals process through the lower courts.
What happens when a higher federal court opts not to hear an appeal?
The case moves up to the next level of federal courts.
The case is passed to the state courts.
The case is passed to another district.
The decision made by the highest ranking court to hear the case stands.
Question 19 Explanation:
Higher courts are not required to hear all the cases brought up for appeal. When an appeal is dismissed by the appellate or Supreme Court, whatever decision had been reached in the last hearing of the case stands.
How many justices serve on the modern Supreme Court?
There are seven justices, all of equal standing.
There are six justices and one ranking Chief Justice.
There are nine justices, all of equal standing.
There are eight justices and one ranking Chief Justice.
Question 20 Explanation:
On the Supreme Court, there are eight justices known as associate justices and one who serves as the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice presides over things like Supreme Court sessions, judicial conferences, and impeachment trials. The Chief Justice is also the first to vote in formal deliberations.
Who was the first female justice appointed to the Supreme Court?
Sandra Day O’Connor
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Question 21 Explanation:
Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981. She was the first woman ever to sit on the Supreme Court.
Who was the first African-American justice appointed to the Supreme Court?
Henry Billings Brown
Question 22 Explanation:
Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson. He was the first of only two African-Americans who have served on the court to date (the other being his replacement, Justice Clarence Thomas).
How do political influences and special interests impact the Supreme Court?
Justices are expected to make decisions that follow the political positions of the presidents who appointed them.
Justices are expected to make decisions that follow the political positions of the members of Congress who confirmed them.
Justices are expected to make decisions that follow the political positions of the special interest groups that help pay the justices’ salaries.
Justices are expected to remain apolitical and removed from the influence of special interests.
Question 23 Explanation:
While Presidents tend to nominate justices whose records reflect similar political views, the Supreme Court is not a political body. The role of the Court is to offer impartial decisions based upon the law, the Constitution, and the facts presented in court — politics and the influence of outside forces should not be part of the equation.
Which of the following is a way the Supreme Court can check the power of the legislative branch?
The presidential line of succession
Question 24 Explanation:
The power of judicial review allows the Supreme Court to decide if a law passed by Congress follows the Constitution or not. If not, the law is deemed unconstitutional and can be nullified by the court.
How can the executive branch check the power of the judicial branch?
The President has the power to remove federal judges who don't conform
The President has impeachment power over all federal officers
The President has the power to appoint all federal judges
All of the above
Question 25 Explanation:
The executive branch doesn’t have much of a check on power of judges once they are put in place. Instead, it is the legislative branch that holds the main checks on their power (the legislative branch has impeachment powers over all federal officers).
When do annual Supreme Court sessions begin?
Question 26 Explanation:
Supreme Court sessions begin each October. These sessions end when the court’s scheduled docket has been completed, meaning the length of Supreme Court sessions varies year to year.
What does a writ of certiorari do?
Challenges the legality of detention
Directs the lower court to transmit records for a case which the Supreme Court will hear on appeal
Waives the court costs of an indigent party
Seeks to command a public official, including a lower court judge, to take a particular action
Question 27 Explanation:
Parties who are unsatisfied with the decision of a lower court can petition the Supreme Court to hear their case. The primary way of doing this is to ask it to grant a writ of certiorari. This is an order made by the Supreme Court directing the lower court to send up the record of the case for review.
Which of the following steps comes first in a Supreme Court case?
Question 28 Explanation:
Before any arguments happen in open court, both sides submit written briefs outlining their claims and arguments pertaining to the case. This gives the Supreme Court Justices the opportunity to become familiar with the case, assemble relevant background information, and prepare questions for the lawyers.
What process do the Supreme Court Justices follow to come to their decisions?
They meet in private without notes, recordings, or spectators.
They meet in private, but written notes are kept and sealed for historical purposes.
They meet in public, but recording these sessions in any way is not allowed.
They meet in public with full record keeping and press access.
Question 29 Explanation:
The Supreme Court Justices meet in private conference sessions to deliberate and eventually vote on the cases they hear. These sessions are closed to the public, and no recording of any kind is permitted.
What protocol must the Supreme Court follow to determine their official decision?
All of the justices must come to a consensus, otherwise the ruling from the lower court stands.
The justices must come to a two-thirds majority, otherwise the ruling from the lower court stands.
A majority of all justices (five of the nine) must be achieved, otherwise the ruling from the lower court stands.
A majority of the justices present (as long as there are at least six) must be achieved, otherwise the ruling from the lower court stands.
Question 30 Explanation:
In a Supreme Court ruling, at least six justices must be participating. The majority of the participating justices must agree in order for a ruling to be made. If a majority is not achieved, the decision from the lower court remains; however, in this instance, the case is not considered as any type of legal precedent to be cited by future cases.
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