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Judicial Review refers to the way in which the Judicial
branch fits into the system of checks and balances; federal courts have
the right and the power to decide whether or not a law or act is
constitutional. The Supreme Court and the federal courts have the power
to overturn any congressional or state legislation or other official
governmental action that found to be inconsistent with the Constitution,
Bill of Rights, or federal law.
The lower federal courts, with the U.S. Supreme Court, comprise the 3 tiers of the Judicial Branch. The lower federal courts include:
U.S. Court of Appeals
The Courts of Appeals (or appellate courts) hear appeals from the (district) courts in the 94 federal judicial districts. These 94 districts are organized into 12 regional circuits, with a U.S. Court of Appeals in each distict. Each court of appeals has jurisdiction over its circuit. Additionally, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction over specialized cases, primarily tax, patent, and international trade cases and appeals.
U.S. District Courts
US district courts are trial courts and they hear cases from a broad
range of issues. There are 94 federal judicial districts, and there is at least one district in every state. the district courts have jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal cases, and almost all categories of federal cases. Each district court falls under the jurisdiction of an appellate court (Court of Appeals).
U.S. Bankruptcy Courts
Bankruptcy courts are separate units of the district courts. Federal courts have exclusive jursidiction over bankruptcy cases. This means that bankruptcy cases can only be filed in (federal) district courts, and never in state courts. Bankruptcy cases can be filed in all 94 federal judicial districts.
U.S. Courts of Special Jurisdiction
There are a number of courts that have jurisdiction over certain types of cases. Links to the sites for these courts are below:
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
This court has nationwide jurisdiction over most claims against the United States.
U.S. Tax Court
This court offers a forum for taxpayers to dispute a tax deficiency determined by the Commissioner of the I.R.S. This court also has jurisdiction over a variety of other (tax/worker) cases.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
This court has worldwide appellate jurisdiction over members of the armed forces on active duty and other persons subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran's Claims
This court reviews certain Board of Veteran's Affairs decisions. It does not hold trials, receive new evidence, or hear witnesses. Th USCAVC reviews Board of Veteran's Affairs decisions, the written record, and the briefs of the parties.
U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
This panel determines 1) whether civil actions pending in different federal districts should be transferred to a single district for pretrial proceedings; and 2) the selection of judge/s and court assigned to conduct such proceedings.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Seal of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States Courts
Official website of the Federal Judiciary.
U.S. Courts: Federal Courts
Find information about federal courts and their history. You will also find links to: a glossary of legal terms, a court finder, electronic case files,
District/Circuit Map of Lower Federal Courts
This PDF shows the geographic boundaries of US Courts of Appeals and US District Courts.
Law Research Guide
The Gallagher Law Library is the campus authority on judicial and legal research. This research guide will lead you to more focused and specific resources.