Our Federal System of Government
Session 28: Judicial Branch Introduction
- Ask students to turn to Article III of the United States Constitution, and have a student (or the teacher) read it aloud. Ask students what they notice is different about this article. (They will say that it is shorter than the others, that treason is defined in the article, and other responses.) Prompt a discussion by asking students why they think that is. Remind students that one of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation was that there was no national Judicial Branch. Therefore, the founding fathers were less sure what they wanted this branch to be. They left it to the new Congress to design the courts system.
- Explain that we have not always had three levels of courts in the federal system. The United States Courts of Appeal were added by an act of Congress.
- Distribute the handouts related to U.S. Courts (Attachment O: About U.S. Courts and Attachment P: About U.S. Courts - Study Guide). Allow students class time to read and complete the study guide. Remind them that they should answer these questions in paragraph form.
- Before the end of class, go over the answer to the study guide. Ask students to volunteer to read their paragraphs.