Can someone please help me with the following American Government questions regarding the courts? 1. The Constitution directly created: - a. the three-tiered federal court system b. the Supreme Court only c. separate courts for civil and criminal cases or d. a system for electing judges 2.The final authority on the meaning of the Constitution is: - a. the published debates of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 b. the president c. Congress or d. the Supreme Court 3. The lowest level of the federal court system consists of the: - a. courts of appeals b. courts of public opinion c. district courts or d. none of the above 4. The primary function of the U.S. courts of appeals is to - a. conduct trials in federal cases of great importance b. clarify the issues in cases that will be sent up to the Supreme Court c. hear and dispose of the vast majority of cases appealed from the district courts or d. hear appeals from the fifty state supreme courts 5. Supreme Court cases must - a. pass through district courts b. involve a constitutional issue c. raise a federal question or d. by the permission of any four justices

Expert Answers

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Question 1:  The best answer here is B.  Article III of the Constitution starts by saying that

The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

This clearly does not set up a three-tiered system.  The only court that is actually specifically mentioned is the Supreme Court.  The 6th and 7th Amendments do refer to the idea that there are both civil and criminal cases, but they do not set up separate courts for these.  Judges are not elected at the federal level.  Therefore, B is the best answer.

Question 2: D is the best answer.  The Constitution does not say who gets to decide whether laws are constitutional.  However, the Supreme Court took that power in the 1803 case Marbury v. Madison.  The Court’s power of judicial review has been accepted ever since.

Question 3: The best answer is C.  There are three levels of the federal judicial system.  The lowest level is the district court.  The next level up is the appellate courts (also called circuit courts) and the highest level is, of course, the Supreme Court of the United States.

Question 4:  The best answer is C.  Appellate courts hear appeals from district courts within their regions.  They dispose of the vast majority of the cases because the Supreme Court hears very few cases. 

Question 5: Although it is not (as written) grammatical, Option D is the best answer.  The Supreme Court gets to decide which cases it will hear.  It has a “rule of four” in which a case will be heard if four justices vote to do so.  

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