1. Unique Judiciary
The judicial system in America was the first federal judicial system in the world which expounded the principle of judicial supremacy and judicial review of the executive acts and legislative acts of the other two organs of the state i.e. the executive and the legislature.
2. Organization of the federal courts
There are two types of federal courts; constitutional courts and legislative courts.
3. Constitutional courts
Constitutional courts are those, which are created in accordance with the provisions of Article III of the constitution. The establishment of inferior courts is, not mandatory. Their jurisdiction defined by the statutes of congress, starting with the judiciary act of 1789. The congress can, at will, abolish the inferior courts but not the Supreme Court.
Jurisdiction of Federal Courts in USA
i. Case arising under the constitution, law and treaties
Only cases of justifiable character come before the Federal Courts, and no questions of executive of legislative character.
ii. Cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls.
Federal jurisdiction extends to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls.
iii. Admiralty Cases
They embrace all cases arising from disputes on freight charges, wages of seamen, damages due to collisions and marine insurance.
iv. Cases in which the United States or a state is a party.
The jurisdiction of the federal courts extends over all controversies or disputes in which United States is one of the parties, or when the dispute is between two states off the union or between a stat and a citizen of another state.
v. Disputes between citizens of different states
The judicial power of the federal courts extends to all cases between the citizens of different states of the USA and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.
5. Supreme Court is the third chamber of the legislature
It has been termed as a super legislature or a third chamber of the legislature. The supreme court of USA may safely be termed as the most autocratic political institution of America.
a. Growth and adaptability of the constitution
The Supreme Court has put a liberal interpretation to the constitution. It has facilitated the growth of the constitution without the necessity of formal amendment. Thus the Supreme Court has rendered remarkable service towards the growth of the constitution. The Supreme Court has declared laws unconstitutional not only on the basis that they wren beyond the jurisdiction of a particular organ but also on the ground that they were remarkable or unjust.
b. Supreme court is the protector of federation
It is the Supreme Court, which has satisfied the needs of the most industrialized country consisting of fifty states. Without a liberal interpretation by the Supreme Court, the US federalism might have failed in the time of growing industrialization and centralism. Thus the supreme court of USA proved to be the protector of the federation.
6. Circuit Courts
Circuit’s courts were created in 1891; the total number of circuit courts is twelve while a specific is meant for District of Columbia. The number of judges varies from 3 to 10 in such courts. Each circuit court also includes a judge of the Supreme Court.
There was a time when the justices of the Supreme Court were assigned to judicial circuits and held circuit court throughout the country in addition to sitting as members of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice Presides over a conference of the senior circuit court judge from the various circuits, which is held in Washington at least once a year. The purpose of the same is to survey the work of the federal judicial system.
7. District Courts
Whole country has been divided in 94 districts and a district court established in each. These courts hold their sessions in different cities and towns in addition to permanent seats in big cities.
Each state constitutes at least one district, while the more populous states have two, three or even eight within their boundaries. Some districts are sub-divided into division. In each district there is at least one judge though in many cases there are several judges for a single district. Where there is more than one judge in a district, each holds court simultaneously.
8. Legislative Courts
These courts, called legislative courts because they have been created by the congress under some specific grant of legislative power as provided in Article II of the constitution. They are special courts created to aid the administration of laws, enacted by congress in pursuance of powers delegated to it or implied in such powers.
The legislative courts are judicial courts and follow the same procedure as the constitutional courts. The difference lies in the source of their authority and the nature of the cases over which they have jurisdiction.
9. The court of customs and Paten Appeals
This court was established in 1910 and it comprises five judges. It has appellate jurisdiction against the decision of custom court and the orders of patent commissioners.
It is in continuous session, usually in Washington, but it may hold its session in any judicial circuit at any time.
10. Court of Claim
This court was created in 1885, comprising one chief judge and five other judges. The claims against the government may be of different types. For example, disputes arising out of non-payment of salaries or relating to property acquired by government for private persons.
11. Courts of customs
This court was created in 1890. It consists of nine judges and has the jurisdiction to settle all disputes relating to customs.
12. Tax court
It was established in 1942. It is a sixteen-member court. It hears disputes arising from decisions of the federal tax-collection agencies.
13. Territorial Courts
These are setup by the congress in the American territories. Those with greater authority are located in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Panama Canal Lane.
14. Court of Military appeals
This court is considered to be the last court of appeal for all court-martial cases. It functions in Washington. It is an appellate court and hears appeals against the decision of the Court-Martial. It has no original jurisdiction.