The Judiciary Act of 1789

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Our current court system has much to thank for the Judiciary Act of 1789.

There are three branches of government in the United States of America. These branches are the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The executive branch deals with the President of the United States of America. The legislative branch deals with the law makers and the laws, meanwhile, the judicial branch deals with the interpretation and the following of the laws. The Judicial Act of 1789 was important for doing even more. Here is what this important act did:

Created U.S Supreme Court
Created Judicial Districts
Created Office of Attorney General
Created Alien and Tort Statue

The First United States Congress on September 24, 1789 passed a key statute which established the United States judiciary. It was responsible for setting up the federal court system for the United States of America. And under Article Three of the United States Constitution, power was given to U.S Congress to establish court system levels.

The U.S Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court was established as the highest court in the land. The decisions handed down by it could not ever be over turned not even by the President of the United States of America.

The Supreme Court is made up of Six Supreme Court justices (One Chief Justice and five Associate Justices). This is the number set by the Judiciary Act of 1789. The U.S Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all civil and criminal actions, suits, which also include charges against United States Ambassadors.

The Judicial Districts Created

The Judiciary Act of 1789 also created thirteen districts located within the eleven states responsible for the ratification of the United States Constitution. Each state is represented by a single district. Exempt are the states of Virginia and Massachusetts, two states which are comprised of two districts. The state of Massachusetts was divided into the District of Maine (this was in 1789). The state of Virginia was divided into the District of Kentucky (was part of Virginia at the time) and the District of Virginia (which also contained the state of West Virginia which broke away before the start of the American Civil War 1861 – 1865). The states of Rhode Island and North Carolina were added into the judicial districts in 1790.

The serious crime and civil cases which are taken by the circuit courts are made up of two Supreme Court judges and one district judge. The Appellate courts have jurisdiction over the district courts in the United States, meanwhile, the jurisdiction over admiralty cases, petty crimes, lawsuits, and small claims cases are taken over by single judge district courts. The federal civil jurisdiction includes cases involving diversity jurisdiction between citizens’ parties of different states and the nation which was the plaintiff. Of course, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all. Appellate cases can be heard from what has been transferred from Superior Courts and even State Supreme Courts.

The Office of Attorney General Created

The Judiciary Act of 1789, in addition, created the office of the Attorney General. It called for the providing for the appointment of a United States marshal and some deputies. What’s more was the adding of a district attorney which is located within each judicial district. Furthermore, the landmark act would call for a judicial oath (swearing oath) for the justices and the district judges.

The Creation of the Alien and Tort Statute

The Judiciary Act of 1789 also included the Alien and Tort Statute. It was responsible for providing the jurisdiction of federal courts over lawsuits made by aliens for torts in violation of the laws of nations or the treaties of the United States of America.

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