Article Three of the United States Constitution

Article Three of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. Under Article Three, the judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as lower courts created by Congress. Article Three empowers the courts to handle cases or controversies arising under federal law, as well as other enumerated areas. Article Three also defines treason.

Section 1 of Article Three vests the judicial power of the United States in the Supreme Court, as well as inferior courts established by Congress. Along with the Vesting Clauses of Article One and Article Two, Article Three's Vesting Clause establishes the separation of powers between the three branches of government. Section 1 authorizes the creation of inferior courts, but does not require it; the first inferior federal courts were established shortly after the ratification of the Constitution with the Judiciary Act of 1789. Section 1 also establishes that federal judges do not face term limits, and that an individual judge's salary may not be decreased. Article Three does not set the size of the Supreme Court or establish specific positions on the court, but Article One establishes the position of chief justice.

Section 2 of Article Three delineates federal judicial power. The Case or Controversy Clause restricts the judiciary's power to actual cases and controversies, meaning that federal judicial power does not extend to cases which are hypothetical, or which are proscribed due to standing, mootness, or ripeness issues. Section 2 states that federal judiciary's power extends to cases arising under the Constitution, federal laws, federal treaties, controversies involving multiple states or foreign powers, and other enumerated areas. Section 2 gives the Supreme Court original jurisdiction when ambassadors, public officials, or the states are a party in the case, leaving the Supreme Court with appellate jurisdiction in all other areas to which the federal judiciary's jurisdiction extends. Section 2 also gives Congress the power to strip the Supreme Court of appellate jurisdiction, and establishes that all federal crimes must be tried before a jury. Section 2 does not expressly grant the federal judiciary the power of judicial review, but the courts have exercised this power since the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison.

Section 3 of Article Three defines treason and empowers Congress to punish treason. Section 3 requires that at least two witnesses testify to the treasonous act, or that the individual accused of treason confesses. It also limits the ways in which Congress can punish those convicted of treason.

Section 1: Federal courts

Section 1 vests the judicial power of the United States in federal courts, requires a supreme court, allows inferior courts, requires good behavior tenure for judges, and prohibits decreasing the salaries of judges.

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 Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Number of courts

Article III authorizes one Supreme Court, but does not set the number of justices that must be appointed to it. Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 refers to a Chief Justice (who shall preside over the impeachment trial of the President of the United States). Since 1869 the number of justices has been fixed at nine (by the Judiciary Act of 1869): one chief justice, and eight associate justices.[1]

Proposals have been made at various times for organizing the Supreme Court into separate panels; none garnered wide support, thus the constitutionality of such a division is unknown. However, in a 1937 letter (to Senator Burton Wheeler during the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill debate), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote, "the Constitution does not appear to authorize two or more Supreme Courts functioning in effect as separate courts."[2]

The Supreme Court is the only federal court that is explicitly established by the Constitution. During the Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made for the Supreme Court to be the only federal court, having both original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction. This proposal was rejected in favor of the provision that exists today. Under this provision, the Congress may create inferior (i.e., lower) courts under both Article III, Section 1, and Article I, Section 8. The Article III courts, which are also known as "constitutional courts", were first created by the Judiciary Act of 1789, and are the only courts with judicial power. Article I courts, which are also known as "legislative courts", consist of regulatory agencies, such as the United States Tax Court.

In certain types of cases, Article III courts may exercise appellate jurisdiction over Article I courts. In Murray's Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Improvement Co. (59 U.S. (18 How.) 272 (1856)), the Court held that "there are legal matters, involving public rights, which may be presented in such form that the judicial power is capable of acting on them," and which are susceptible to review by an Article III court. Later, in Ex parte Bakelite Corp. (279 U.S. 438 (1929)), the Court declared that Article I courts "may be created as special tribunals to examine and determine various matters, arising between the government and others, which from their nature do not require judicial determination and yet are susceptible of it."[2] Other cases, such as bankruptcy cases, have been held not to involve judicial determination, and may therefore go before Article I courts. Similarly, several courts in the District of Columbia, which is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress, are Article I courts rather than Article III courts. This article was expressly extended to the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico by the U.S. Congress through Federal Law 89-571, 80 Stat. 764, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. This transformed the article IV United States territorial court in Puerto Rico, created in 1900, to an Article III federal judicial district court.

The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, frequently called the court-packing plan,[3] was a legislative initiative to add more justices to the Supreme Court proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after his victory in the 1936 presidential election. Although the bill aimed generally to overhaul and modernize the entire federal court system, its central and most controversial provision would have granted the President power to appoint an additional justice to the Supreme Court for every incumbent justice over the age of 70, up to a maximum of six.[4]

The Constitution is silent when it comes to judges of courts which have been abolished. The Judiciary Act of 1801 increased the number of courts to permit the Federalist President John Adams to appoint a number of Federalist judges before Thomas Jefferson took office. When Jefferson became President, the Congress abolished several of these courts and made no provision for the judges of those courts. The Judicial Code of 1911 abolished "circuit riding" and transferred the circuit courts authority and jurisdiction to the district courts.


The Constitution provides that judges "shall hold their Offices during good Behavior." The term "good behavior" is interpreted to mean that judges may serve for the remainder of their lives, although they may resign or retire voluntarily. A judge may also be removed by impeachment and conviction by congressional vote (hence the term good behavior); this has occurred fourteen times. Three other judges, Mark W. Delahay,[5] George W. English,[6] and Samuel B. Kent,[7] chose to resign rather than go through the impeachment process.


The compensation of judges may not be decreased, but may be increased, during their continuance in office.

Section 2: Judicial power, jurisdiction, and trial by jury

Section 2 delineates federal judicial power, and brings that power into execution by conferring original jurisdiction and also appellate jurisdiction upon the Supreme Court. Additionally, this section requires trial by jury in all criminal cases, except impeachment cases.

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, 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.

Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Clause 1: Cases and controversies

Clause 1 of Section 2 authorizes the federal courts to hear actual cases and controversies only. Their judicial power does not extend to cases which are hypothetical, or which are proscribed due to standing, mootness, or ripeness issues. Generally, a case or controversy requires the presence of adverse parties who have a genuine interest at stake in the case. In Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346 (1911), the Supreme Court denied jurisdiction to cases brought under a statute permitting certain Native Americans to bring suit against the United States to determine the constitutionality of a law allocating tribal lands. Counsel for both sides were to be paid from the federal Treasury. The Supreme Court held that, though the United States was a defendant, the case in question was not an actual controversy; rather, the statute was merely devised to test the constitutionality of a certain type of legislation. Thus the Court's ruling would be nothing more than an advisory opinion; therefore, the court dismissed the suit for failing to present a "case or controversy."

A significant omission is that although Clause 1 provides that federal judicial power shall extend to "the laws of the United States," it does not also provide that it shall extend to the laws of the several or individual states. In turn, the Judiciary Act of 1789 and subsequent acts never granted the U.S. Supreme Court the power to review decisions of state supreme courts on pure issues of state law. It is this silence which tacitly made state supreme courts the final expositors of the common law in their respective states. They were free to diverge from English precedents and from each other on the vast majority of legal issues which had never been made part of federal law by the Constitution, and the U.S. Supreme Court could do nothing about that, as it would ultimately concede in Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins (1938). By way of contrast, other English-speaking federations like Australia and Canada never adopted the Erie doctrine. That is, their highest courts have always possessed plenary power to impose a uniform nationwide common law upon all lower courts and never adopted the strong American distinction between federal and state common law.

Eleventh Amendment and state sovereign immunity

In Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. 419 (1793), the Supreme Court ruled that Article III, Section 2 abrogated the States' sovereign immunity and authorized federal courts to hear disputes between private citizens and States. This decision was overturned by the Eleventh Amendment, which was passed by the Congress on March 4, 1794 1 Stat. 402 and ratified by the states on February 7, 1795. It prohibits the federal courts from hearing "any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State".[8]

Clause 2: Original and appellate jurisdiction

Clause 2 of Section 2 provides that the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in cases affecting ambassadors, ministers and consuls, and also in those controversies which are subject to federal judicial power because at least one state is a party; the Court has held that the latter requirement is met if the United States has a controversy with a state.[9][10] In other cases, the Supreme Court has only appellate jurisdiction, which may be regulated by the Congress. The Congress may not, however, amend the Court's original jurisdiction, as was found in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (Cranch 1) 137 (1803) (the same decision which established the principle of judicial review). Marbury held that Congress can neither expand nor restrict the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. However, the appellate jurisdiction of the Court is different. The Court's appellate jurisdiction is given "with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

Often a court will assert a modest degree of power over a case for the threshold purpose of determining whether it has jurisdiction, and so the word "power" is not necessarily synonymous with the word "jurisdiction".[11][12]

Judicial review

The power of the federal judiciary to review the constitutionality of a statute or treaty, or to review an administrative regulation for consistency with either a statute, a treaty, or the Constitution itself, is an implied power derived in part from Clause 2 of Section 2.[13]

Though the Constitution does not expressly provide that the federal judiciary has the power of judicial review, many of the Constitution's Framers viewed such a power as an appropriate power for the federal judiciary to possess. In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton wrote,

The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution, is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.[14]

Others, however, disagreed, claiming that each branch could determine for itself the constitutionality of its actions.

Hamilton goes on to counterbalance the tone of "judicial supremacists," those demanding that both Congress and the Executive are compelled by the Constitution to enforce all court decisions, including those that, in their eyes, or those of the People, violate fundamental American principles:

Nor does this conclusion by any means suppose a superiority of the judicial to the legislative power. It only supposes that the power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental.[14]

It can be of no weight to say that the courts, on the pretense of a repugnancy, may substitute their own pleasure to the constitutional intentions of the legislature. This might as well happen in the case of two contradictory statutes; or it might as well happen in every adjudication upon any single statute. The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise will instead of judgement, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body. The observation, if it prove any thing, would prove that there ought to be no judges distinct from that body.[14]

Marbury v. Madison involved a highly partisan set of circumstances. Though Congressional elections were held in November 1800, the newly elected officers did not take power until March. The Federalist Party had lost the elections. In the words of President Thomas Jefferson, the Federalists "retired into the judiciary as a stronghold". In the four months following the elections, the outgoing Congress created several new judgeships, which were filled by President John Adams. In the last-minute rush, however, Federalist Secretary of State John Marshall had neglected to deliver 17 of the commissions to their respective appointees. When James Madison took office as Secretary of State, several commissions remained undelivered. Bringing their claims under the Judiciary Act of 1789, the appointees, including William Marbury, petitioned the Supreme Court for the issue of a writ of mandamus, which in English law had been used to force public officials to fulfill their ministerial duties. Here, Madison would be required to deliver the commissions.

Secretary of State James Madison, who won Marbury v. Madison, but lost Judicial review.

Marbury posed a difficult problem for the court, which was then led by Chief Justice John Marshall, the same person who had neglected to deliver the commissions when he was the Secretary of State. If Marshall's court commanded James Madison to deliver the commissions, Madison might ignore the order, thereby indicating the weakness of the court. Similarly, if the court denied William Marbury's request, the court would be seen as weak. Marshall held that appointee Marbury was indeed entitled to his commission. However, Justice Marshall contended that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional, since it purported to grant original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in cases not involving the States or ambassadors. The ruling thereby established that the federal courts could exercise judicial review over the actions of Congress or the executive branch.

However, Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 78, expressed the view that the Courts hold only the power of words, and not the power of compulsion upon those other two branches of government, upon which the Supreme Court is itself dependent. Then in 1820, Thomas Jefferson expressed his deep reservations about the doctrine of judicial review:

You seem ... to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps ... Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.[15]

Clause 3: Federal trials

The Jury by John Morgan
A nineteenth-century painting of a jury.

Clause 3 of Section 2 provides that Federal crimes, except impeachment cases, must be tried before a jury, unless the defendant waives his right. Also, the trial must be held in the state where the crime was committed. If the crime was not committed in any particular state, then the trial is held in such a place as set forth by the Congress. The United States Senate has the sole power to try impeachment cases.[16]

Two of the Constitutional Amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights contain related provisions. The Sixth Amendment enumerates the rights of individuals when facing criminal prosecution and the Seventh Amendment establishes an individual's right to a jury trial in certain civil cases. It also inhibits courts from overturning a jury's findings of fact. The Supreme Court has extended the protections of these amendments to individuals facing trial in state courts through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Section 3: Treason

Iva Toguri mug shot
Iva Toguri, known as Tokyo Rose, and Tomoya Kawakita were two Japanese Americans who were tried for treason after World War II.

Section 3 defines treason and its punishment.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

The Constitution defines treason as specific acts, namely "levying War against [the United States], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." A contrast is therefore maintained with the English law, whereby crimes including conspiring to kill the King or "violating" the Queen, were punishable as treason. In Ex Parte Bollman, 8 U.S. 75 (1807), the Supreme Court ruled that "there must be an actual assembling of men, for the treasonable purpose, to constitute a levying of war."[17]

Under English law effective during the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, there were essentially five species of treason. Of the five, the Constitution adopted only two: levying war and adhering to enemies. Omitted were species of treason involving encompassing (or imagining) the death of the king, certain types of counterfeiting, and finally fornication with women in the royal family of the sort which could call into question the parentage of royal successors. James Wilson wrote the original draft of this section, and he was involved as a defense attorney for some accused of treason against the Patriot cause. The two forms of treason adopted were both derived from the English Treason Act 1351. Joseph Story wrote in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States of the authors of the Constitution that:

they have adopted the very words of the Statute of Treason of Edward the Third; and thus by implication, in order to cut off at once all chances of arbitrary constructions, they have recognized the well-settled interpretation of these phrases in the administration of criminal law, which has prevailed for ages.[18]

In Federalist No. 43 James Madison wrote regarding the Treason Clause:

As treason may be committed against the United States, the authority of the United States ought to be enabled to punish it. But as new-fangled and artificial treasons have been the great engines by which violent factions, the natural offspring of free government, have usually wreaked their alternate malignity on each other, the convention have, with great judgment, opposed a barrier to this peculiar danger, by inserting a constitutional definition of the crime, fixing the proof necessary for conviction of it, and restraining the Congress, even in punishing it, from extending the consequences of guilt beyond the person of its author.

Based on the above quotation, it was noted by the lawyer William J. Olson in an amicus curiae in the case Hedges v. Obama that the Treason Clause was one of the enumerated powers of the federal government.[19] He also stated that by defining treason in the U.S. Constitution and placing it in Article III "the founders intended the power to be checked by the judiciary, ruling out trials by military commissions. As James Madison noted, the Treason Clause also was designed to limit the power of the federal government to punish its citizens for 'adhering to [the] enemies [of the United States by], giving them aid and comfort.'"[19]

Section 3 also requires the testimony of two different witnesses on the same overt act, or a confession by the accused in open court, to convict for treason. This rule was derived from another English statute, the Treason Act 1695.[20]

In Cramer v. United States, 325 U.S. 1 (1945), the Supreme Court ruled that "[e]very act, movement, deed, and word of the defendant charged to constitute treason must be supported by the testimony of two witnesses."[21] In Haupt v. United States, 330 U.S. 631 (1947), however, the Supreme Court found that two witnesses are not required to prove intent, nor are two witnesses required to prove that an overt act is treasonable. The two witnesses, according to the decision, are required to prove only that the overt act occurred (eyewitnesses and federal agents investigating the crime, for example).

Punishment for treason may not "work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person" so convicted. The descendants of someone convicted for treason could not, as they were under English law, be considered "tainted" by the treason of their ancestor. Furthermore, Congress may confiscate the property of traitors, but that property must be inheritable at the death of the person convicted.

See also


  1. ^ "Landmark Legislation: Circuit Judgeships". Washington, D.C.: Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis, and Interpretation – Centennial Edition – Interim" (PDF). S. Doc. 112-9. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 639. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  3. ^ Epstein, Lee; Walker, Thomas G. (2007). Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. ISBN 978-1-933116-81-5., at 451.
  4. ^ "Feb 05, 1937: Roosevelt announces "court-packing" plan". This Day in History. A&E Networks. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  5. ^ "Judges of the United States Courts – Delahay, Mark W." Federal Judicial Center. n.d. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
  6. ^ staff (n.d.). "Judges of the United States Courts – English, George Washington". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
  7. ^ "Judges of the United States Courts – Kent, Samuel B." Federal Judicial Center. n.d. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
  8. ^ "Annotation 1 – Eleventh Amendment – State Immunity". FindLaw. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
  9. ^ United States v. Texas, 143 U.S. 621 (1892). A factor in United States v. Texas was that there had been an "act of congress requiring the institution of this suit". With a few narrow exceptions, courts have held that Congress controls access to the courts by the United States and its agencies and officials. See, e.g., Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., 514 U.S. 122 ("Agencies do not automatically have standing to sue for actions that frustrate the purposes of their statutes"). Also see United States v. Mattson, 600 F. 2d 1295 (9th Cir. 1979).
  10. ^ Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 264 (1821): "[T]he original jurisdiction of the Supreme court, in cases where a state is a party, refers to those cases in which, according to the grant of power made in the preceding clause, jurisdiction might be exercised, in consequence of the character of the party."
  11. ^ Cover, Robert. Narrative, Violence and the Law (U. Mich. 1995): "Every denial of jurisdiction on the part of a court is an assertion of the power to determine jurisdiction ..."
  12. ^ Di Trolio, Stefania. "Undermining and Unintwining: The Right to a Jury Trial and Rule 12(b)(1) Archived July 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine", Seton Hall Law Review, Volume 33, page 1247, text accompanying note 82 (2003).
  13. ^ "The Establishment of Judicial Review". Findlaw.
  14. ^ a b c "The Federalist Papers : No. 78". Archived from the original on 29 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-28.
  15. ^ Jefferson, Thomas. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Jarvis (September 28, 1820).
  16. ^ U.S. Constitution, Art. I, sec. 3
  17. ^ Bollman, at 126
  18. ^ Story, J. (1833) Commentaries sec. 1793
  20. ^ This rule was abolished in the United Kingdom in 1945.
  21. ^ Cramer, at 34


  • Irons, Peter. (1999). A People's History of the Supreme Court. New York: Penguin.

External links

Anastasoff v. United States

Anastasoff v. United States, 223 F.3d 898 (8th Cir. 2000), was a case decided by the U.S. Eighth Circuit on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. It is notable for being the only case to consider the "Anastasoff issue", that is whether Article Three of the United States Constitution requires a federal court to treat unpublished opinions as precedent.The case was subsequently vacated as moot on rehearing en banc, due to the governments decision to pay the taxpayer's claim in full with interest at the statutory rate. In the final decision, the court opinion stated:

Before being overturned, the Anastasoff decision was cited by multiple courts that used unpublished opinions in their decisions, such as United States v. Goldman, No. 00-1276 of September 29, 2000, and United States v. Langmade, No. 00-2019 of December 29, 2000.

Appellate jurisdiction

Appellate jurisdiction is the power of an appellate court to review, amend and overrule decisions of a trial court or other lower tribunal. Most appellate jurisdiction is legislatively created, and may consist of appeals by leave of the appellate court or by right. Depending on the type of case and the decision below, appellate review primarily consists of: an entirely new hearing (a non trial de novo); a hearing where the appellate court gives deference to factual findings of the lower court; or review of particular legal rulings made by the lower court (an appeal on the record).

Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn

Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, 563 U.S. 125 (2011), is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States involving taxpayer standing under Article Three of the United States Constitution.

A group of Arizona taxpayers challenged a state law providing tax credits to people who donate to school tuition organizations providing scholarships to students attending private or religious schools. The taxpayers claimed a violation of the Establishment Clause. The District Court dismissed the case, holding that the taxpayers did not state a valid claim. The decision was reversed by the Ninth Circuit, which ruled that the respondents had standing to sue, citing Flast v. Cohen.The Supreme Court ruled 5-4, in an opinion delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy, that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring suit. The Court stated that it had "rejected the general proposition that an individual who has paid taxes has a 'continuing, legally cognizable interest in ensuring that those funds are not used by the Government in a way that violates the Constitution.'" Ultimately, the Supreme Court found that any damages or harm claimed by the taxpayers by virtue of simply being a taxpayer would be pure speculation because the issue at hand was a tax credit and not a government expenditure. Justice Scalia filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Thomas.

In her dissent, Justice Kagan said “cash grants and targeted tax breaks are means of accomplishing the same government objective—to provide financial support to select individuals or organizations.” She further argued: “taxpayers should be able to challenge the subsidy.” The dissent was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Bruce Peabody, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, remarked “the case brought out four dissents, a signal that those justices were prepared to decide the substantive issue.” Equally, Peter Woolley, professor of political science and director of the PublicMind Poll, posited “in making this ruling on such narrow grounds, the court virtually guarantees that plaintiff in one guise or another will be back another day.”

Article Three

Article Three may refer to:

Article Three of the United States Constitution

Article 3 of the Constitution of India

Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Article 3 of the Constitution of Ireland

Article Three of the Constitution of Puerto Rico

The Article 3, a musical album by Me'shell Ndegeocello

Case or Controversy Clause

The Supreme Court of the United States has interpreted the Case or Controversy Clause of Article III of the United States Constitution (found in Art. III, Section 2, Clause 1) as embodying two distinct limitations on exercise of judicial review.First, the Court has held that the clause identifies the scope of matters which a federal court can and cannot consider as a case (i.e., it distinguishes between lawsuits within and beyond the institutional competence of the federal judiciary), and limits federal judicial power only to such lawsuits as the court is competent to hear.

For example, the Court has determined that this clause prohibits the issuance of advisory opinions (in which no actual issue exists but an opinion is sought), and claims where the appellant stands to gain only in a generalized sense (i.e. no more or less than people at large), and allows only the adjudication of claims where (1) the plaintiff has actually and personally suffered injury or harm "in fact", (2) the injury or harm suffered by the plaintiff is fairly traceable to the defendant's actions and (3) the injury or harm would be capable of redress by the court.

As with all parts of the law, there are exceptions. One of the most significant deals with free speech and free expression cases involving the First Amendment where a party suing over a restriction on freedom of speech issues can argue the unconstitutionality of a statute restricting certain types of speech or expression, even where the restriction might not directly affect them, such as a bookseller or video game dealer may argue that a restriction on some media restricts their customer's ability to choose various works and the restrictions could have a "chilling effect" on some publishers who might not release some works that would be affected by the law. Other than this, generally, there are usually no exceptions to the standing issue at the Federal level.

Secondly, the Court has interpreted the clause as limiting Congress' ability to confer jurisdiction on federal courts. It does so by establishing an outer limit of the types of matters within which Congress may constitutionally confer jurisdiction. Historically, the Court has not interpreted this Clause to limit Congressional power to restrict the jurisdiction of the federal courts.

The delicate phrasing of the Clause and the ambiguity of the terms therein has inspired frequent academic debate. Though the Supreme Court has given much attention to the legal issues arising from this provision of the Constitution, many problematic issues remain unresolved. Critics argue that the standing requirements imposed by this Clause enable judges to avoid difficult issues, decide the merits of a case before the parties have had a fair opportunity to litigate, and avoid the necessity of applying law the judge finds distasteful.


Certiorari is a court process to seek judicial review of a decision of a lower court or administrative agency. The term comes from the name of an English prerogative writ, issued by a superior court to direct that the record of the lower court be sent to the superior court for review.

Certiorari was inherited as part of English common law by the countries in the Commonwealth of Nations and by the United States. It has subsequently evolved in the legal system of each nation, as court decisions and statutory amendments are made. In modern law, certiorari is recognized in many jurisdictions, including England and Wales (now called by a different name), Canada, India, Ireland, the Philippines and the United States. With the expansion of administrative law in the 19th and 20th centuries, the writ of certiorari has gained broader use in many countries, to review the decisions of administrative bodes as well as lower courts.


Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin controversia, as a composite of controversus – "turned in an opposite direction," from contra – "against" – and vertere – to turn, or versus (see verse), hence, "to turn against."

Diversity jurisdiction

In the law of the United States, diversity jurisdiction is a form of subject-matter jurisdiction in civil procedure in which a United States district court in the federal judiciary has the power to hear a civil case when the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and where the persons that are parties are "diverse" in citizenship or state of incorporation (for corporations being legal persons), which generally indicates that they differ in state and/or nationality. Diversity jurisdiction and federal-question jurisdiction (jurisdiction over issues arising under federal law) constitute the two primary categories of subject matter jurisdiction in U.S. federal courts.

The United States Constitution, in Article III, § 2, gives the Congress the power to permit federal courts to hear diversity cases through legislation authorizing such jurisdiction. The provision was included because the Framers of the Constitution were concerned that when a case is filed in one state, and it involves parties from that state and another state, the state court might be biased toward the party from that state. Congress first exercised that power and granted federal trial circuit courts diversity jurisdiction in the Judiciary Act of 1789. Diversity jurisdiction is currently codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

In 1969, the American Law Institute explained in a 587-page analysis of the subject that diversity is the "most controversial" type of federal jurisdiction, because it "lays bare fundamental issues regarding the nature and operation of our federal union".

Ideological leanings of United States Supreme Court justices

The United States Supreme Court is the highest federal court of the United States. Established pursuant to Article Three of the United States Constitution in 1789, it has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and state court cases involving issues of federal law plus original jurisdiction over a small range of cases. In the legal system of the United States, the Supreme Court is generally the final interpreter of federal law including the United States Constitution, but it may act only within the context of a case in which it has jurisdiction. The Court may decide cases having political overtones but does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions, and its enforcement arm is in the executive rather than judicial branch of government.

As established by the Judiciary Act of 1869, the Court normally consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The justices base their decisions on their interpretation of both legal doctrine and the precedential application of laws in the past. In most cases, interpreting the law is relatively clear-cut and the justices decide unanimously. However, in more complicated or controversial cases, the Court is often divided.

In modern discourse, the justices of the Court are often categorized as having conservative, moderate, or liberal philosophies of law and of judicial interpretation. It has long been commonly assumed that a justice's votes reflect his or her judicial decision-making philosophy as well as their ideological leanings, personal attitudes, values, political philosophies, or policy preferences. A growing body of academic research has confirmed this understanding, as scholars have found that the justices largely vote in consonance with their perceived values. Analysts have used a variety of methods to deduce the specific perspective of each justice over time.

Judicial review in the United States

In the United States, judicial review is the ability of a court to examine and decide if a statute, treaty or administrative regulation contradicts or violates the provisions of existing law, a State Constitution, or ultimately the United States Constitution. While the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly define a power of judicial review, the authority for judicial review in the United States has been inferred from the structure, provisions, and history of the Constitution.Two landmark decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court served to confirm the inferred constitutional authority for judicial review in the United States: In 1796, Hylton v. United States was the first case decided by the Supreme Court involving a direct challenge to the constitutionality of an act of Congress, the Carriage Act of 1794 which imposed a "carriage tax". The Court engaged in the process of judicial review by examining the plaintiff's claim that the carriage tax was unconstitutional. After review, the Supreme Court decided the Carriage Act was constitutional. In 1803, Marbury v. Madison was the first Supreme Court case where the Court asserted its authority for judicial review to strike down a law as unconstitutional. At the end of his opinion in this decision, Chief Justice John Marshall maintained that the Supreme Court's responsibility to overturn unconstitutional legislation was a necessary consequence of their sworn oath of office to uphold the Constitution as instructed in Article Six of the Constitution.

As of 2014, the United States Supreme Court has held 176 Acts of the U.S. Congress unconstitutional.

List of people who have served in all three branches of the United States federal government

Following is a list of persons who have served in all three branches of the United States federal government. Membership in this list is limited to persons who have:

served in the executive branch, as President of the United States, Vice President, a Cabinet officer, or another executive branch office requiring confirmation by the United States Senate; and

served as a member of either the United States Senate or of the House of Representatives; and

served as a United States federal judge on a court established under Article Three of the United States Constitution.

Unincorporated territories of the United States

Under United States law, an unincorporated territory is an area controlled by the United States government that is not "incorporated" for the purposes of United States constitutional law. In unincorporated territories, the U.S. Constitution applies only partially. In the absence of an organic law, a territory is classified as unorganized. In unincorporated territories, "fundamental rights apply as a matter of law, but other constitutional rights are not available". Selected constitutional provisions apply, depending on congressional acts and judicial rulings according to U.S. constitutional practice, local tradition, and law.There are currently thirteen unincorporated territories, comprising a land area of approximately 12,000 square kilometers (4,600 square miles) containing a population of approximately four million people; Puerto Rico alone comprises the vast majority of both the total area and total population.Of the thirteen territories, five are inhabited. These are either organized or self-governing but unincorporated. These are Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. There are also nine uninhabited U.S. possessions, of which only Palmyra Atoll is incorporated. (See Territories of the United States, Unorganized territory and insular area.)

United States constitutional criminal procedure

The United States Constitution contains several provisions regarding the law of criminal procedure.

Petit jury and venue provisions—both traceable to enumerated complaints in the Declaration of Independence—are included in Article Three of the United States Constitution. More criminal procedure provisions are contained in the United States Bill of Rights, specifically the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. With the exception of the Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the Vicinage Clause of the Sixth Amendment, and (maybe) the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment, all of the criminal procedure provisions of the Bill of Rights have been incorporated to apply to the state governments.

Several of these rights regulate pre-trial procedure: access to a non-excessive bail, the right to indictment by a grand jury, the right to an information (charging document), the right to a speedy trial, and the right to be tried in a specific venue. Several of these rights are trial rights: the right to compulsory process for obtaining witnesses at trial, the right to confront witnesses at trial, the right to a public trial, the right to a trial by an impartial petit jury selected from a specific geography, and the right not to be compelled to testify against oneself. Others, such as the assistance of counsel and due process rights, have application throughout the proceeding.

If a defendant is convicted, the usual remedy for a violation of one of these provisions is reversal of the conviction or modification of the defendant's sentence. With the exception of structural errors (such as the total denial of counsel), constitutional errors are subject to harmless error analysis, although they must be harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. With the exception of a Double Jeopardy or Speedy Trial violation, the government will usually be permitted to retry the defendant. Pursuant to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), these provisions are the source of nearly all reviewable errors in federal habeas review of state convictions.

United States federal judge

In the United States, the title of federal judge means a judge (pursuant to Article Three of the United States Constitution) appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate pursuant to the Appointments Clause in Article II of the United States Constitution.

In addition to the Supreme Court of the United States, whose existence and some aspects of whose jurisdiction are beyond the constitutional power of Congress to alter, Congress has established 13 courts of appeals (also called "circuit courts") with appellate jurisdiction over different regions of the United States, and 94 United States district courts.

Every judge appointed to such a court may be categorized as a federal judge; such positions include the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, Circuit Judges of the courts of appeals, and district judges of the United States district courts. All of these judges described thus far are referred to sometimes as "Article III judges" because they exercise the judicial power vested in the judicial branch of the federal government by Article III of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, judges of the Court of International Trade exercise judicial power pursuant to Article III.

Other judges serving in the federal courts, including magistrate judges and bankruptcy judges, are also sometimes referred to as "federal judges"; however, they are neither appointed by the President nor confirmed by the Senate, and their power derives from Article I instead.

United States v. More

United States v. More, 7 U.S. (3 Cranch) 159 (1805), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that it had no jurisdiction to hear appeals from criminal cases in the circuit courts by writs of error. Relying on the Exceptions Clause, More held that Congress's enumerated grants of appellate jurisdiction to the Court operated as an exercise of Congress's power to eliminate all other forms of appellate jurisdiction.

The second of forty-one criminal cases heard by the Marshall Court, More ensured that the Court's criminal jurisprudence would be limited to writs of error from the state (and later, territorial) courts, original habeas petitions and writs of error from habeas petitions in the circuit courts, and certificates of division and mandamus from the circuit courts. Congress did not grant the Court jurisdiction to hear writs of error from the circuit courts in criminal cases until 1889, for capital crimes, and 1891, for other "infamous" crimes. The Judicial Code of 1911 abolished the circuit courts, transferred the trial of crimes to the district courts, and extended the Court's appellate jurisdiction to all crimes. But, these statutory grants were construed not to permit writs of error filed by the prosecution, as in More.More arose from the same Federalist/Jeffersonian political dispute over the judiciary that gave rise to Marbury v. Madison (1803) and Stuart v. Laird (1803). Benjamin More, a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia, argued that the repeal of statutory provisions authorizing compensation for his office violated the salary-protection guarantees for federal judges in Article Three of the United States Constitution. Below, a divided panel of the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia had sided with More, interpreted the repeal act prospectively, and sustained his demurrer to the criminal indictment for the common law crime of exacting illegal fees under color of office.

Venue (law)

Venue (law) is the location where a case is heard.

Vicinage Clause

The Vicinage Clause is a provision in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution regulating the vicinity from which a jury pool may be selected. The clause says that the accused shall be entitled to an "impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law". The Vicinage Clause limits the vicinity of criminal jury selection to both the state and the federal judicial district where the crime has been committed. This is distinct from the venue provision of Article Three of the United States Constitution, which regulates the location of the actual trial.

The Vicinage clause has its roots in medieval English criminal procedure, the perceived abuses of criminal vicinage and venue during the colonial period (when trials for treason were being held in England rather than in the colony where the crime is alleged to have happened) and Anti-federalist objections to the United States Constitution. The clause is one of the few constitutional criminal procedure provisions that has not been incorporated to apply to proceedings in state courts, the other examples being the Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment and (possibly) the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment.

The Clause has led to very little litigation, in part because of its overlap (as a practical matter) with the venue provision of Article Three and Rule 18 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Further, with the exception of the Court for the District of Wyoming, whose district includes the portions of Yellowstone National Park in Idaho and Montana, no federal judicial district includes the territory of two or more states (except, historically, the District of Potomac, which existed from February 1801 to March 1802).

Warth v. Seldin

Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490 (1975), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court reviewed the concept of judicial standing and affirmed that if the plaintiffs lacked standing, they could not maintain a case against the defendants.

Wisconsin v. Illinois

Wisconsin v. Illinois, 278 U.S. 367 (1929), also referred to as the Chicago Sanitary District Case, is an opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States which held that the equitable power of the United States can be used to impose positive action on one state in a situation in which nonaction would result in damage to the interests of other states. Pursuant to Article Three of the United States Constitution, the case was heard under the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction because it involved a controversy between two states, Illinois and Wisconsin. Chief Justice William Howard Taft wrote the opinion for a unanimous Court.

and legacy

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