Contrasts and Comparisons Between State and Federal Court Systems

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The federal system of government in the United States shares power between the federal government and the state governments. Our political system dictates that both the federal government and each of the state governments have their own court systems. Therefore, while the Constitution states that the federal government is supreme with regard to those powers delegated to it, the states remain supreme in matters reserved to them. Both the federal and state governments need their own court systems to apply and interpret their laws which are done by specifically spelling out the jurisdiction of their respective court systems.

U.S. District Courts, U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court are all one type of federal court, but unlike other courts, these courts are not courts of general jurisdiction and all judges of these courts are appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate and hold office for life. The second type of federal court which is established by Congress is magistrate courts, bankruptcy courts, U.S. Court of Military Appeals, U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. Court of Veteran’s Appeals. The President of the United States also appoints the judges of these courts with the advice and consent of the Senate. Judges of the second type of courts usually serve for a set number of years unlike the judges of the first type which could feasibly serve for life. State Courts are established by the Constitution and laws of each state. State court judges are selected in a variety of ways, including election, appointment for a given number of years, appointment for life, and combinations of these methods. The highest state court is often referred to as a Supreme Court. Some states also have an intermediate Court of Appeals. Below these appeals courts are the state trial courts. Some are referred to as Circuit or District Courts. The federal court system deals with issues of law relating to those powers expressly...
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