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FEDERAL DEPOSITORY LIBRARY: Judicial Branch

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JUDICIAL BRANCH

    The judiciary branch consists of various courts and supporting agencies. A list of these agencies may be found at
  • Government Agencies and Elected Officials
  • The Supreme Court

    • Supreme Court of the United States
    • The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and such number of Associate Justices as may be fixed by Congress. The number of Associate Justices is currently fixed at eight (28 U. S. C. §1). Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States, and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate. Article III, §1, of the Constitution further provides that "[t]he Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."

    Lower Courts

    • U.S. Courts
    • Federal courts hear cases involving the constitutionality of a law, cases involving the laws and treaties of the U.S. ambassadors and public ministers, disputes between two or more states, admiralty law, also known as maritime law, and bankruptcy cases.
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Courts - Services and Forms
    • Bankruptcy helps people who can no longer pay their debts get a fresh start by liquidating assets to pay their debts or by creating a repayment plan. Bankruptcy laws also protect financially troubled businesses. This section explains the bankruptcy process and laws.
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • The Federal Circuit is unique among the thirteen Circuit Courts of Appeals. It has nationwide jurisdiction in a variety of subject areas, including international trade, government contracts, patents, trademarks, certain money claims against the United States government, federal personnel, veterans' benefits, and public safety officers' benefits claims. Appeals to the court come from all federal district courts, the United States Court of Federal Claims, the United States Court of International Trade, and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The court also takes appeals of certain administrative agencies' decisions, including the United States Merit Systems Protection Board, the Boards of Contract Appeals, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Decisions of the United States International Trade Commission, the Office of Compliance, an independent agency in the legislative branch, and the Government Accountability Office Personnel Appeals Board, and the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance also are reviewed by the court.
    • U.S. Court of International Trade
    • The United States Court of International Trade, established under Article III of the Constitution, has nationwide jurisdiction over civil actions arising out of the customs and international trade laws of the United States.
    • Court Locator
    • Search by ZIP Code or city and state, using the state's two-letter postal code (e.g. Lincoln, NE), to find nearby court locations in your district or circuit. Or you may view all court website links grouped by state.

    Special Courts

    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
    • The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces exercises worldwide appellate jurisdiction over members of the armed forces on active duty and other persons subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Court is composed of five civilian judges appointed for 15-year terms by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
    • The Court has exclusive jurisdiction over decisions of the Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board or BVA). The Court reviews Board decisions appealed by claimants who believe the Board erred in its decision. The Court's review of Board decisions is based on the record before the agency and arguments of the parties, which are presented in a written brief, with oral argument generally held only in cases presenting new legal issues.
    • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
    • The court is authorized to hear primarily money claims founded upon the Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations, and contracts (express or implied in fact) with the United States. The court’s primary jurisdiction lies in 28 U.S.C. § 1491, known as the Tucker Act. Under this and other statutes passed by Congress, the court may hear a variety of specialized claims against the federal government including contract claims, bid protests, military pay claims, civilian pay claims, tax claims, Indian claims, takings claims, Congressional reference cases, vaccine injury claims, and patent and copyright claims.
    • U.S. Tax Court
    • The mission of the United States Tax Court is to provide a national forum to expeditiously resolve disputes between taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service while carefully considering the merits of each case and ensuring the uniform interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code. The Court is committed to providing taxpayers, most of whom are self-represented, with a convenient place of trial and, when their disputes involve relatively small amounts of tax dollars, simplified procedures.

    Court Support Organizations

    • Judicial Administration
    • The Administrative Office is the agency within the judicial branch that provides a broad range of legislative, legal, financial, technology, management, administrative, and program support services to federal courts. Judicial Conference committees, with court input, advise the Administrative Office as it develops the annual judiciary budget for approval by Congress and the President.
    • Federal Judicial Center
    • The Federal Judicial Center provides training and research for the federal judiciary. The FJC develops orientation and continuing education programs for judges and other court personnel. It also studies judiciary operations and recommends to the Judicial Conference how to improve the management and administration of the federal courts. FJC operations are overseen by a board of directors whose members are the Chief Justice, the director of the Administrative Office, and seven judges chosen by the Judicial Conference.
    • Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
    • The job of the Panel is to (1) determine whether civil actions pending in different federal districts involve one or more common questions of fact such that the actions should be transferred to one federal district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings; and (2) select the judge or judges and court assigned to conduct such proceedings.
    • U.S. Sentencing Commission
    • The Federal Judicial Center provides training and research for the federal judiciary. The FJC develops orientation and continuing education programs for judges and other court personnel. It also studies judiciary operations and recommends to the Judicial Conference how to improve the management and administration of the federal courts. FJC operations are overseen by a board of directors whose members are the Chief Justice, the director of the Administrative Office, and seven judges chosen by the Judicial Conference.

    Additional Resources

    • Current Rules of Practice and Procedure
    • Contains inks to the national federal rules and forms in effect, as well as local rules (which are required to be consistent with the national rules) prescribed by district courts and courts of appeal.
    • Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
    • Governs procedure in the United States courts of appeals. The Supreme Court first adopted the Rules of Appellate Procedure by order dated December 4, 1967, transmitted to Congress on January 15, 1968, and effective July 1, 1968. The Appellate Rules and accompanying forms were last amended in 2016.
    • Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure
    • Governs procedures for bankruptcy proceedings. For many years, such proceedings were governed by the General Orders and Forms in Bankruptcy promulgated by the Supreme Court. By order dated April 24, 1973, effective October 1, 1973, the Supreme Court prescribed, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2075, the Bankruptcy Rules and Official Bankruptcy Forms, which abrogated previous rules and forms.
    • Inside the Federal Courts
    • Includes What the Federal Courts do, how they are organized, how cases move through them, who does what, governance and administration, Code of Conduct, and definitions.

  • Additional information:
  • Supreme Court Decisions, 1937-1975
    Contains the full text of decisions issued during this time period, fully searchable.

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