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For the most part, appellate courts only handle cases that have already been decided in a trial court. The person who lost at trial wants the appellate-level court to reconsider the case because they wish to challenge the outcome.

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In Indiana, there are three different kinds of trial courts : circuit courts, superior courts, and local city or town courts. Though these courts have different names, the three trial courts are actually more alike than they are different. The Court need not worry, though, since its can nearly always count on the support of the president and the Congress precisely because the Court serves an essential role in augmenting the power of the other branches of the federal government.

Slavery is enshrined in the Constitution too. Need we revere that? The idea that the Supreme Court could somehow address all the legal issues arising in a vast confederation was absurd from the outset, but all the more so now. Recognizing this, the authors of the Constitution created the Court as a body designed to address only conflicts between states, or between individuals of different states. In other words, it was supposed to head off conflicts that could lead to crises between state governments; it was designed to prevent wars between states.

Judicial Powers & Limitations - Principles of the Constitution

Even in the late 18th century though, the Court's status as a tiny elite club required the creation of the myth that the court was somehow "apolitical" which was buttressed by the creation of lifelong tenure for judges, no matter how senile or out of touch. Otherwise, prevailing ideas of representation in government at the time would have never allowed for a political institution like the Court to gain acceptance. This can be illustrated by the fact that in , Congress was far more "democratic" than it is now, in the sense that there were far more representatives per person than today.

Elections in many state governments were annual affairs, and legislative districts very small by today's standards, ensuring that your elected officials lived in close proximity to you and were physically accessible. In contrast to this, in , there was one Supreme Court judge for every , Americans. Today, there is one Supreme Court judge for every 35 million Americans.

Jurisdiction: Original, Supreme Court | Federal Judicial Center

Not even the Soviet politburo managed that level of non-representation. On the other hand, there is no reason why a council of state governments could not be employed to address issues of conflicts between states, and the states or even small portions thereof — not nine political appointees — should perform the function of judicial review.

This isn't the 18th century. Having delegates from a variety of diverse and geographically varied states remain in constant contact and regularly meet is by no means a logistical impossibility. Even worse, many of the justices haven't had a real job in decades and have no idea how reality actually works. It's unlikely that the older members of the Court could even use Google to find a phone number on the internet, let alone understand the complexities of how modern people run their businesses, raise their families, or function in every day life.

The Court is largely the domain of geriatrics who are paid generously to make complex judgments about a world they rarely engage and can scarcely understand. If Americans want a government that's more likely to leave them in peace, they should ignore the pleas to elect another politician who will just appoint another donor or political ally to the court. Instead, state and local governments should seek at every turn to ignore, nullify, and generally disregard the rulings of the Court when they run counter to local law and local institutions where — quite unlike the Supreme Court — average citizens have some actual influence over the political institutions that affect their lives.

Ryan McMaken ryanmcmaken is a senior editor at the Mises Institute.

Send him your article submissions for Mises Wire and The Austrian , but read article guidelines first. In practice, the Supreme Court has only rarely exercised its jurisdiction over foreign officials.

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Instead, the Supreme Court's original docket has been dedicated largely to resolving disputes between state governments. Article III, section 2, of the Constitution distributes the federal judicial power between the Supreme Court's appellate and original jurisdiction, providing that the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction in "all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls," and in cases to which a state is a party. In the Judiciary Act of , Congress made the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction exclusive in suits between two or more states, between a state and a foreign government, and in suits against ambassadors and other public ministers.

Supreme court

The Supreme Court's jurisdiction over the remainder of suits to which a state was a party was to be concurrent, presumably with state courts since the statute did not expressly confer these cases upon the inferior federal courts. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, federal justices and judges differed on the question of whether state and inferior federal courts could constitutionally exercise jurisdiction in cases that fell within the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction under Article III.

In the case of Farquhar v. Georgia in , the U. Circuit Court for the District of Georgia ruled that an individual could not sue a state in a federal circuit court because the Constitution's grant of original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court was exclusive. The U. Circuit Court for the District of Pennsylvania ruled in , however, in the case of United States v. Ravara , that the circuit courts could exercise criminal jurisdiction over a foreign consul, despite Article III's provision that the Supreme Court exercised original jurisdiction over "all cases affecting" consuls.

In his opinion in Marbury v. Madison , Chief Justice John Marshall stated that Congress could not confer the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction on any other court.


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The Supreme Court did not settle the question until the decision in Ames v. Kansas , in which the Court ruled that parties embraced by the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction could bring suit in any court with jurisdiction over the parties or subject matter. Georgia , the Supreme Court sparked controversy when it ruled that Article III permitted an original suit in the Supreme Court against a state by a citizen of another state. Congress and the states reacted quickly to what many saw as a threat to the sovereignty of the states and adopted the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited such suits in the federal courts.

The most frequent exercise of the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction has been in suits between two or more states.