Establishment of the Federal judicial system

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Establishment of the Federal judicial system and the setting of the balance between the Federal and the local judicial branches of power With the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress first implemented the constitutional provision that “the judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Although subsequent legislation altered many of the 1789 Act’s specific provisions, and the 1891 Circuit Courts of Appeals Act effected a major change, the basic design established by the 1789 Act has endured: a supreme appellate court to interpret the federal Constitution and laws; a system of power federal courts, separated geographically by state boundaries and exercising

basically the same jurisdiction; and reliance on state courts to handle the bulk of adjudication in the nation. However, Article III and its implementing legislation also reveal the clash of major disagreements over the optimal extent of federal jurisdiction and the optimal federal court structure to accommodate that jurisdiction. . The Constitutional Convention’s decisions in 1787 about the national government’s court system were few but important. The framers agreed that there would be a separate federal judicial power and that to exercise it there would be a Supreme Court and there could be other federal courts. They specified the jurisdiction those courts could exercise, subject to congressional exceptions. They prescribed the appointment procedure for Supreme Court

judges, and they sought to protect all federal judges from reprisals for unpopular decisions: Judges’ compensation could not be reduced, and judges could not be removed from office other than by legislative impeachment and conviction. Putting flesh on this skeleton fell to the First Congress. The Judiciary Act and the Bill of Rights same forces that contended over the writing and ratification of the Constitution in 1787 and 1788 sparred in the First Congress in 1789 over the nation’s judicial system. Federalists generally supported the Constitution and the policies of President Washington’s administration, and they wanted to establish a lower federal judiciary. Anti-Federalists opposed the Constitution— or at least wanted significant changes in it— and favored at best

only a very limited federal judiciary. After the Constitution went into effect in 1789, outright opposition to it diminished quickly. Democratic Republicans, or “Jeffersonians,” emerged as a counter to the Federalists in power. department will be oppressive.” The star chamber of British legal history lingered in some people’s minds, and many more remembered how state courts issued judgments against debtors during the economic turmoil under the Articles of Confederation. Charles Warren identified four main changes that opponents sought in the Constitution’s judiciary provisions: guaranteeing civil as well as criminal trial juries, restricting federal appellate jurisdiction to questions of law, eliminating or radically curtailing congressional authority to establish lower

federal courts, and eliminating the authorization for federal diversity jurisdiction. Many who had supported the Constitution, however, believed a federal court system was necessary but doubted the need for a bill of rights. To them, the Constitution, in Hamilton’s famous phrase, “is itself, in every rational sense, and to every useful purpose, a bill of rights.” The Constitution as ratified contained specific limitations on the national government (e. g., Article III’s provision for criminal jury trials), and in a broader sense, it established an energetic national government, extending over a large republic, that would be capable of protecting people from the oppression of local factions. Courts would also protect rights. As Chief Justice John Jay later told the grand