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Flashcards in Federal Judicial System Deck (33)
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Under Article III, Section 2, federal courts have the jurisdiction to hear which types of cases and controversies? 

  1. Arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States;
  2. Affecting foreign countries’ ambassadors, public ministers, and consuls;
  3. Involving admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;
  4. When the U.S. is a party;
  5. Between two or more states, or between a state and citizens of another state;
  6. Between citizens of different states or between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states; or
  7. Between a state, or its citizens, and foreign states, citizens, or subjects


The Supreme Court has what two types of jurisdiction? 

  1. Original jurisdiction; and 
  2. Appellate jurisdiction


Over what type of cases does the Supreme Court have original jurisdiction

From where is this power derived? 


The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over cases...

  1. Involving ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; and 
  2. Those in which a state is a party 

The source of the power: Article III, section 2


Can Congress modify the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction? 

No, but it can grant concurrent original jurisdiction to the lower federal courts 


What are the 2 ways for Supreme Court to hear an appellate case? 

  1. Writ of Certiorari (discretionary review): Court will grant review if at least 4 justices vote to accept
  2. Mandatory appeal: appeals for injunctive decisions issued by three-judge district court panels  


adequate and independent state grounds rule

Supreme Court will not hear an appeal from a state court decision that is supported by adequate and independent state grounds




What can the Supreme Court do if it is unclear whether a decision rests on independent and adequate state grounds? 

Hear the federal issue and remand the state issue to state courts


What is the exception to the adequate and independent state grounds rule?

SCOTUS will review a state court's decision if the state law tracks federal law and the state court has a practice of following the federal interpretations of the particular law


True or False: SCOTUS will only correct a state court judgment if the state court incorrectly applied federal rights



sovereign immunity

doctrine that holds the government cannot be sued for damages without its consent


What does the 11th Amendment prohibit?

An individual suing any state in federal court without that state's consent.

See more: 11th Amendment



What are the exceptions to the 11th Amendment? 

Lawsuits against states are allowed if: 

  1. State has consented
  2. Suit is for prospective relief (injunctive) against a state officer;
  3. United States or another State is the plaintiff
  4. Suit involves enforcement of laws under ​the violations of 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and Congress has expressly removed immunity 


Does the 11th Amendment prohibit claims against a state official personally for money damages? 



Does the 11th Amendment prohibit recovery of retroactive money damages by citizens against a state agency?





Does the 11th Amendment prohibit lawsuits against local governments

No, only against states 


Does the 11th Amendment prohibit bankruptcy proceedings?



Does the 11th Amendment prohibit the federal government from suing a state? 

No, only private individuals 


Requirements for a case to be justiciable (i.e. can be heard by the federal courts)

  1. Standing; 
  2. Ripeness; 
  3. Mootness; and 
  4. Not a political question 


Elements required for standing

  1. Injury-in-fact: P must show a concrete and particularized injury, actual or imminent, caused by alleged action; 
  2. Causation: D's conduct must have caused the claimant's injury; 
  3. Redressibility: Harm must be one the Court can remedy through their resolution of the case;


Does a taxpayer have standing to bring a lawsuit to challenge general government spending?

No, unless lawsuit is to challenge government expenditures violative of the Establishment Clause

(See Flast v. Cohen)


When may a litigant have standing to assert the rights of a third party not before the court? 

A third party may have standing to assert the rights of the aggrieved party if the Court finds...

  1. There is a special relationship between P and the injured party (e.g. doctor-patient, lawyer-client, parent-child), and the injured party finds it difficult to bring suit themselves; or
  2. Associational standing: an association may have standing to bring suit if any one of its members would have standing, and the issue is germane to the association's purpose.
  3. First Amendment overbreath: third party may bring a facial challenge, as long as Article III standing still exists.



Do organizations have standing to sue? 

Only if: 

  1. At least one member of the organization would have standing to sue;
  2. Interest asserted is germaine to purpose of the organization; and 
  3. Neither claim nor relief requires individual participation of members



A claim is "ripe," when the facts of the case have matured into an existing substantial controversy warranting judicial intervention.  

Source: Ripeness


Why are courts required to hear only ripe claims?

Because federal courts are not allowed to issue advisory opinions; must be faced with a real or imminent harm

⚠️ Watch out for questions on declaratory judgments (allowed) vs. advisory opinions (not allowed)



A case is moot when the controversy is resolved and there is no longer a live issue. 



What are the exceptions to the mootness requirement?

  1. Capable of repetition yet evading review: although P's particular injury will likely become moot before litigation is complete, it is highly likely injury will be repeated in the future (ex. Roe v. Wade and abortions);
  2. Voluntary cessation: D voluntarily ceases behavior once litigation starts, but could resume at any time; or
  3. Class action: As long as one member of class has a ripe claim, resolution of one P's injury will not defeat mootness


political questions

Issues that either: 

  1. Other branches have the power to decide per the Constitution; or 
  2. Are inherently incapable of judicial decision  


⭐️ Federal courts will not hear cases involving political questions 


Examples of non-justiciable political questions?

  1. Impeachment procedure;
  2. Gerrymandering;
  3. Foreign policy & war; 
  4. Guaranty clause; 
  5. Amendment ratification procedure.


abstention doctrine

When federal courts decline jurisdiction to hear a case, often because it may conflict with state courts



What are two scenarios in which federal courts will abstain from hearing a case? 

  1. Case involves unsettled state law better left to state courts (Pullman abstention); or 
  2. Federal courts typically decline family law cases (e.g. child custody, divorce), known as the Family Law Exception.


Younger Abstention Doctrine

Court will not enjoin a pending state criminal prosecution in the absence of  extraordinary circumstances where the danger of irreparable loss is both great and immediate.

See: Younger v. Harris 


Who has the power to decide whether a state decision was made on state grounds or federal grounds

SCOTUS may review the decision and make the determination


What are judges immune/not immune from? 

Immune: civil liability for judicial acts (including grave procedural errors) 

Not immune: lawsuits involving non-judicial acts.