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U.S. Federal Government: Judicial


Quill pens and old-fashioned lanterns lend a historical air to the old Supreme Court Chamber.Article III of the United States Constitution begins, "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 Supreme Court is the nation's "court of last resort," often using its decisions to interpret laws passed by the Legislative Branch and determining their constitutionality. It depends on the Executive Branch to enforce those interpretations.

Lower courts (including state courts not administered by the federal government) can hear both civil and criminal cases. There are specialized courts as well, including bankruptcy and tax courts.

For more information on the United States court system, visit the United States Department of Justice's webpage describing district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court.


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