Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Appellate Jurisdiction

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article III, Section 2, and Clause 2:  “In all the other Cases before mentioned [all cases arising under the Constitution or the federal laws and treaties], the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”

                “This provision gives the Congress the RIGHT to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on any subject not previously allocated to it as a matter of primary jurisdiction by the Constitution.

                “This provision was not designed to give Congress the power to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts, but simply to make decisions on many topics conclusive after a hearing in the lower courts.  It was the purpose of the Founders to protect the Supreme Court from being submerged by a mountain of trivial cases when it should be concentrating its attention on matters of national importance” (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 612).

                “Recent debate over the Appellate Jurisdiction Clause has centered on proposals for legislation that would remove existing Supreme Court jurisdiction.  Constitutional scholars strongly disagree as to how far Congress may go in removing Supreme Court jurisdiction under the clause….

                “The Supreme Court has remained aloof from the scholarly contest, leaving its precedents to stand for broad congressional authority to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.  Thus far, the Court has followed the lead of John Marshall, who stated in the Virginia ratifying convention:  `Congress is empowered to make exceptions to the appellate jurisdiction, as to law and fact, of the Supreme Court.  These exceptions certainly go as far as the legislature may think proper for the interest and liberty of the people’” (See Andrew S. Gold in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 260).

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