(RoyalPatriot.com) – Separation of powers was an essential goal for the Founding Fathers when they established the United States. They had just escaped tyranny and wanted to establish a government with a system of checks and balances to prevent tyranny from developing in their newly formed country. Thus, there are three branches of government, no one with too much power. The judicial branch is unique from the executive and legislative branches in that members are not elected by the public. Rather, the president nominates them and the Senate must confirm them.
Formation of the Judicial Branch
Article III of the US Constitution establishes the judicial branch. It consists of federal courts and the highest in the land — the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The establishment of federal courts is left to Congress. These courts are inferior to the Supreme Court, which doesn’t hear many cases at all, especially compared to the number of lawsuits brought to lower courts on any given day.
Congress decides the structure of the federal judiciary. It’s also responsible for setting the number of Supreme Court Justices. Since 1869, there have been 9 justices, but before that, there were as few as 6. There’s one Chief Justice, while the rest are Associate Justices. The SCOTUS is the only constitutionally-mandated court — Congress established the others to help with federal business, particularly as a growing landscape of cases necessitated.
Once confirmed, a federal justice serves until they retire, pass away, or are impeached.
The main power of the judicial branch is to interpret the laws and how they may apply to cases that come before the justices. To do so, federal judges evaluate these cases and look at precedents, if any exist.
The courts also look at whether legislation is constitutional, a process known as judicial review. Courts can nullify any law it deems unconstitutional. Many of these cases measurably shape the country.
The SCOTUS justices decide which cases they will hear. With thousands of requests, it’s a necessary measure. Typically, only appellate cases make it to this level.
The judicial branch plays an important role in the US government. Its justices have shaped the face of the country several times, sometimes with controversial decisions.
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