Origins of the Federal Court System


What types of jurisdiction does the U.S. Supreme Court have?

The U.S. Supreme Court has both original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction. Original jurisdiction means that a case originates in that particular court. The U.S. Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in lawsuits between different states, some cases in which a state is a party, and cases involving foreign diplomats.

Appellate jurisdiction means that a higher court has the power to review judgments by a lower court. In other words, the losing party in a case can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the high court to take the case. The U.S. Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over all decisions of the federal courts of appeals, decisions by the highest state courts (usually called state supreme courts) that involve a federal question (constitutional law), and decisions by special panels of three judges in federal district courts.


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