The Federal Courts and You
Learn how the federal courts are structured and how they have an impact on the daily lives of law-abiding citizens — like you. Find out how the system is shaped and guided by the Preamble to the Constitution; the Judiciary Act of 1789; Marbury v. Madison; and the commitment to an impartial judiciary.
Stimulate interest in the modern relevance of four foundational concepts:
- The impact of federal courts on the lives of law-abiding citizens, like students.
- The priority the Founders placed on establishing justice.
- The wisdom of the way America’s court system was structured.
- The impartial role of judges.
Federal Courts’ Impact on Law-Abiding Citizens
Focus attention by bringing federal courts into the lives of those who may never enter a courthouse.
- Quiz: Impact of Federal Courts on Law-Abiding Citizens – Start a discussion.
Start at the beginning by asking why the phrase "to establish justice" is first in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.
- Slides: Preamble to the Constitution (pdf) – Explain the Preamble.
- Interpretive Reading: Preamble Script – Read the Preamble. Start a discussion.
- Diagram: Preamble Worksheet (pdf) – Identify key points.
The Judiciary Act of 1789
Use the Act as a blueprint for the creation and structure of America's court system.
- Background: Anniversary of the Federal Courts and the Judiciary Act of 1789
- Diagram: Judiciary Act Worksheet (pdf) – Identify key points.
- Lessons: Marbury v. Madison – the Judiciary Act and Judicial Review. Make the Connection.
Witness judges taking their oath, talking about their role, and sharing their pathways to the bench.