When Congress first met on March 4, 1789, one of the first items of business was to fulfill the requirements of Article III, section 1, of the Constitution. Article III, section 1, provides 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." The First Congress responded by enacting the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established 13 district courts in major cities, three circuit courts, and a Supreme Court composed of a Chief Justice and five Associate Justices (Library of Congress).
History of the United States Court System
The Judiciary Act of 1789 was one of the first pieces of legislation enacted by the newly formed U.S. Congress. The law created a dual court system – federal and state – that existed in no other country at the time. More than 240 years later, the system remains a vibrant protector of the rights and liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution (United States Courts).
The Constitution’s Article III was ratified in 1787, creating a Federal Judiciary that would feature the U.S. Supreme Court at its pinnacle. Left to Congress, however, was the job of fleshing out what the Constitution created (United States Courts).
The Judiciary Act of 1789 established a three-tiered federal court system – the Supreme Court, three appellate courts, and 13 district courts. The Act also provided the courts and the justice system with needed staff (United States Courts).
Today the Federal Judiciary closely resembles the three-tiered system Congress fashioned in 1789. Today’s Supreme Court is comprised of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices. Congress also has created 13 courts of appeals and 94 district courts (United States Courts).
The Court System of the United States
The judicial branches of the United States federal and state governments are responsible for the application and interpretation of the law. The Unites States court system is divided into two administratively separate systems, federal and state, each of which is independent of the executive and legislative branches of government. Such a dual court system is a heritage of the colonial period. By the time the U.S. Constitution had first mandated the establishment of a federal judiciary, each of the original 13 Colonies already had its own comprehensive court system based on the English model. Thus the two systems grew side-by-side, and came to exercise exclusive jurisdiction in some areas and overlapping, or concurrent, jurisdiction in others (Schmalleger, 2009).
The two types of courts in the U.S. court system are the federal courts, and the state courts. State courts handle state law violations, while the federal courts handle more severe crime at the federal level because a grand jury has to be involved. The two courts are known as the dual court system. The dual court system came about, refers to the difference between State and Federal governments. This dates back to 1789, when the first 13 original colonies had developed court systems based on the system in England. With this idea, the United States formed as relatively loose federation of semi-independent provinces. Other states that joined this union were promised limited federal intervention into local affairs. The state courts system were needed to hear cases when violations of those laws occurred and state legislatives were also able to create laws (Schmalleger, 2009). Federal and State
American courts are organized into a dual or two-part structure, both a Federal and State Courts system; with each state its own, unique system. The historic basis for this structure was the concern shown by the original colonies for relinquishing sovereignty to a central government, and the strong thread of state rights that runs through the United States...