The Federal Courts and You
Judicial independence and impartiality are built into the history, structure, and function of the federal court system. The appellate process is fundamental to preserving impartiality. Find out how these principles are guided by the Preamble; the Judiciary Act of 1789; the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison; and every judge’s oath of office.
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.