Judicial System Review

Thursday October 27, 2011 – Periods 1 & 3
Monday October 31, 2011 – Periods 4 & 6

  Today we reviewed the judicial system beginning with the level of both state and federal courts. We watched the opening of a court trial to gain an understanding of court proceedings in a criminal case. We listened to the judges instructions to the jury as he described their duties as jurors.

  Today also marked the end of our practice SSA on the American Jobs Act and the beginning of our SSA research paper on healthcare. We began our lesson with a news article “Man Dies From Toothache, Couldn’t afford Meds” and watched part of the video “Sick Around America.”


Judicial Viewpoints

Tuesday October 25, 2011 – Periods 1 & 3
Wednesday October 26, 2011 – Periods 4 & 6

Today we reviewed how cases come before the Supreme Court. Then we examined judicial viewpoints.

  We learned that political factors have a major influence on judicial appointments and decisions and judges are political officials as well as legal ones. Supreme Court justices also contend with influences such as their personal views, social forces, and public attitudes. Since the Court only hears cases that affect an important constitutional issue, the justices must try to base their decisions on the principles of law and not on outside influences. Because the judiciary has become an increasingly powerful policymaking body in recent decades, it raises the question of the judiciary’s proper role in a democracy. The philosophies of judicial restraint and judicial activism provide different answers to this question.

Supreme Court Cases

Thursday October 20, 2011 – Periods 1 & 3
Monday October 24, 2011 – Periods 4 & 6

  Today we took the chapter 5 quiz over the Bill of Rights. After the quiz, we did a quick review on the judicial court system that we learned in our last class.

  Then we learned that some cases begin at the Supreme Court because they fall under its original jurisdiction. The vast majority of cases, however, reach the Court only as appeals from lower court decisions. The main route to the Supreme Court is when a lower court petitions the Court for a writ of certiorari, an order to send up the records on a case for review. When cases come to the Court, the justices and clerks decide which ones are worthy of serious consideration, and the chief justice puts them on a “discuss list” for all the justices to consider. If four of the nine justices agree to accept the case, the Court will do so. After the Court accepts a case, the lawyers on each side submit a brief. Parties who have an interest in a case’s outcome may also submit a written brief called amicus curiae. The justices listen to oral arguments from lawyers for each side of each case. The Court then recesses and considers arguments in these cases. A majority of justices must be in agreement to decide a case. The Court issues one of four types of written opinions, which are as important as the decision itself. An opinion may be unanimous. A majority opinion expresses the view of the majority of justices. A justice who agrees with the majority’s decision but for a different reason may write a concurring opinion. A dissenting opinion is the opinion of justices on the losing side in a case.

Class notebooks were collected at the end of the period to be graded for six week progress reports.

U.S. Judicial System

Tuesday October 18, 2011 – Periods 1 & 3
Wednesday October 19, 2011 – Periods 4 & 6

Today we reviewed amendments 8-10. We will have a quiz over chapter 5 in our next class.

  Next we examined the United States judicial system. It has two systems of courts: federal courts and state courts. The federal system consists of federal district courts, where most federal cases begin. Above them are the federal courts of appeals, which review cases appealed from the lower courts. The U.S. Supreme Court is the nation’s highest court. Each state has its own court system. In this dual-court system, state courts have jurisdiction over cases involving state law. Federal courts have jurisdiction in cases that involve U.S. laws, treaties with foreign nations, interpretations of the Constitution, bankruptcy, and maritime laws. The federal courts also hear cases if the parties involved are ambassadors, state governments, the federal government, or citizens of different states.

Bill of Rights: Amendments 9-10

Thursday October 13, 2011 – Periods 1 & 3
Monday October 17, 2011 – Periods 4 & 6

Today we began with a review over Amendments 4-8. After the review, we learned that

  the Ninth Amendment provides that people’s rights are not restricted to those specified in Amendments 1 through 8.

  The Tenth Amendment restates that any powers not granted to the federal government nor prohibited to the states are reserved to the states and to the people.

Finally we discussed our practice Frame essay and looked at the SSA components of Examine and Research. We spent the last part of class working in groups on one of three assignments.

Bill of Rights: Amendments 4-8

Tuesday October 11, 2011 – Periods 1 & 3
Wednesday October 12, 2011 – Periods 4 & 6

Today we began with a review over Amendments 1-3. After the review, we learned that

  the Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

  The Fifth Amendment includes protections for people accused of crimes: the right to a grand jury and protections against double jeopardy, self-incrimination, and government seizure of property without just compensation. It also requires that the national government follow due process of law.

  The Sixth Amendment guarantees additional rights to the accused: to have a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, to hear and question witnesses, and to be defended by a lawyer.

  The Seventh Amendment assures the right to a jury trial in civil cases.

  The Eighth Amendment protects against excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.

Finally we discussed our practice Frame essay and looked at the SSA components of Frame and Research.

Bill of Rights: Amendments 1-3

Friday October 7, 2011 – Periods 1 & 3
Monday October 10, 2011 – Periods 4 & 6

   Today we learned that the Constitution was designed to adapt to the changing times while still preserving the basic forms and principles of government. Amendments to the Constitution may be proposed and ratified in two ways. An amendment is proposed at the national level but is ratified in a state-by-state process. One method of proposing an amendment is by a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate. The other way is for two-thirds of the states to ask Congress to call a convention. One method for ratifying a proposed amendment is for the legislatures in three-fourths of the states to vote on it.  The other method is for the states to hold special conventions and then have three-fourths of the conventions approve it.

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. They protect individual rights by limiting government powers.

  The First Amendment protects the freedoms of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights of assembly and to petition the government.

  The Second Amendment protects the rights of states to maintain a militia and of citizens to bear arms.

  The Third Amendment restricts quartering of troops in private homes.

Finally we wrote a sample Frame and Research for the American Jobs Act.