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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, and exercising jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis to determine whether those laws have been broken or not.
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:
The judicial branch is checked and balanced by the executive branch and the legislative branch through the judicial appointment process. 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 vague idea of a judicial Branch consisting of a Supreme Court and lower courts, the Judiciary Act is what established the working structure of the judicial Branch. The act ironed out details like the authority of the Supreme Court, the number of justices that would make up the Supreme Court, 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 federal court structure that is currently in place in the United States judicial branch today. 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.
The accuser is responsible for proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
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 unless it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty, it is to be presumed that they are innocent.
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:
Crimes that do not cross state lines, involve less than $50,000 worth of damages, and do not involve federal law are handled by state judicial systems.
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 1 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 a national jurisdiction. The court’s main purview is appeals court cases that have international economic implications.
How does a decision made in a federal appeals court in a criminal case differ from the decisions handed down by 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.
What role does precedent play in the decision-making processes of the federal courts?
Legal precedents carry the full force of the law.
Legal precedents are banned from being brought as arguments in district court trials, but they can be used in evaluating a case at the appellate or Supreme Court level.
While without any actual legal power, legal precedents are extremely effective ways to argue cases in federal court.
Legal precedents are only permitted to be used when arguing cases in district court; they cannot be cited in the higher courts.
Question 12 Explanation:
Citing legal precedents from previous federal cases is one of the most effective ways attorneys can argue in federal court. By citing decisions from previous federal cases, particularly if they come from higher ranking courts, one’s argument becomes much stronger. Lower courts are typically obliged to adhere to decisions and outcomes that have been handed down in higher courts over similar disputes.
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:
Judge’s opinions come after a decision has been rendered by the court. In the decision, the judge reviews the key components of the case, assesses the laws that were pertinent to the case, and gives a rationale 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. Marshalls 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. Marshalls exist to keep order in federal courts and ensure their operations are allowed to 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:
US Attorneys are nominated by the President and approved by a vote in Congress. U.S. Attorneys, unlike federal judges, only serve for 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 waiting to go to 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 direct authority to hear cases regarding conflicts between the states themselves. They also hear cases involving issues regarding 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 under no requirement to hear all the cases that are 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 United States 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 U.S. 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.
Which of the following is an example of something the executive branch can do to check the power of the Supreme Court?
Remove a Supreme Court Justice from the position
Prevent the Supreme Court from hearing specific cases
Refuse to carry out a court order
All of the above
Question 25 Explanation:
While there are few examples of this actually occurring throughout history, the executive branch could, technically, choose not to carry out the enforcement of a court order. While court orders carry the full weight of the law, the executive branch’s role as the enforcement arm of the federal government gives it the power to scale back or even potentially refuse to do its job in cases where there is little public pressure to do so. One of the most famous examples of this is President Andrew Jackson’s refusal to comply with elements of the verdict of Worcester v. Georgia dealing with tribal sovereignty.
When do annual Supreme Court sessions begin?
Question 26 Explanation:
Supreme Court sessions begin annually each October. These sessions end when the court’s scheduled docket has been completed; as such, the length of Supreme Court sessions varies year to year.
What is the purpose of a writ of certiorari?
To refer cases back to lower courts
To bring lower court cases to the Supreme Court for review
To appeal for the removal of a federal judge
To call for a special session of the Supreme Court
Question 27 Explanation:
From time to time, requests are made for the Supreme Court to examine cases from the lower courts to evaluate whether or not mistakes were made in the trial. These requests can come from the lower court that initially heard a particular case or from one or both of the parties.
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 as they pertain to the case. This gives the Supreme Court Justices the opportunity to build familiarity with the case, assemble relevant background information, and prepare questions to ask 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 is the protocol the Supreme Court must 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 2/3 majority, otherwise the ruling from the lower court stands.
A majority of all justices (5 of the 9) must be achieved, otherwise the ruling from the lower court stands.
A majority of the justices present (as long as there are at least 6) must be achieved, otherwise the ruling from the lower court stands.
Question 30 Explanation:
In a Supreme Court ruling, there need to be at least 6 justices participating. The majority of the justices participating must agree in order for a ruling to be made. If this does not happen, the decision from the lower court remains; however, when this happens, the case is not considered as any type of legal precedent to be cited by future cases.
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