Law and Politics

Start Free Trial

What does the judicial branch of government do exactly?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The judicial branch of government, at the federal trial court level and at the state trial court level, rules on cases and controversies when lawsuits are filed by people and/or entities against one another and also rules on the guilt or innocence of a defendant in criminal prosecutions.  In both...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The judicial branch of government, at the federal trial court level and at the state trial court level, rules on cases and controversies when lawsuits are filed by people and/or entities against one another and also rules on the guilt or innocence of a defendant in criminal prosecutions.  In both the federal and state judiciary, there are two appellate levels as well, such that the losing party has an absolute right to appeal to the next level and have a review of the decision and a right to ask the highest court if it will review the decision, which is left up to the highest court to decide.

It is important to understand that no court can rule on anything unless there is an actual case and controversy to rule on. In other words, if someone thinks that a law is unconstitutional, at the federal or state level, that person cannot go to the court and ask for a ruling. There must be a lawsuit or an appeal from a lawsuit before the court, or a criminal prosecution. Additionally, the party filing the lawsuit, the plaintiff, must be able to at least plead that he or she will be harmed in some way if the court does not rule in favor of the plaintiff. This is called standing, and this is another reason one cannot simply ask a court to rule on anything that is not before the court as a lawsuit or prosecution. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team