Federal judiciary of the United States
The federal judiciary of the United States is one of the three co-equal branches of the Federal government of the United States organized under the United States Constitution. Article III of the Constitution requires the establishment of a Supreme Court and permits the Congress to create other federal courts, and place limitations on their jurisdiction. Article III United States federal judges are appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate to serve until they resign, are impeached and convicted, retire, or die.
Courts[change | change source]
The federal courts are composed of three levels of courts. The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court. It is generally an appellate court that operates under discretionary review, which means that the Court can choose which cases to hear, by granting of writs of certiorari. There is generally no right of appeal to the Supreme Court. In a few situations (like lawsuits between state governments or some cases between the federal government and a state) it sits as a court of original jurisdiction.
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate federal appellate courts. There are 13 appellate courts that determine if the law was applied correctly in trial courts. In some cases, Congress has diverted appellate jurisdiction to specialized courts, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.
There are 94 United States district courts. These are general federal trial courts, although in many cases Congress has diverted original jurisdiction to specialized courts, such as the Court of International Trade, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Alien Terrorist Removal Court, or to Article I or Article IV tribunals. The district courts usually have jurisdiction to hear appeals from such tribunals (unless, for example, appeals are to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.)