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The Federal Judiciary System The federal Judiciary is made up of a three-tiered court system At the bottom are the federal district courts the middle is the appellate courts and the top level is the Supreme Court District courts are at the bottom of the three-tier federal court system The district courts are the beginning for most federal cases District courts are trial courts the district courts hear the testimony about the facts of a case On average district courts handle more than 250000 thousand cases a year with only a small percentage of the criminal and civil cases actually going to trial The second tier consists of the appellate courts or the court of appeals After a district court hears the facts of a case and issues a decision the decision can be appealed The appeals are then heard by the appellate court system Appellate courts can only consider questions of law and legal interpretation in most cases the appellate court must accept the lower courts factual findings Decisions made in the appellate courts are final unless the Supreme Court agrees to hear a further appeal The Supreme Court is at the top and its function is to hear appeals regarding decisions made at lower level federal courts and state supreme courts The Supreme Court is also in place to resolve conflicts or issues of constitutional and federal law and interpret the constitution The Supreme Court is the ultimate authority in constitutional interpretation and its decisions can only be changed by an amendment to the constitution The most important responsibility that the Supreme Court has to deal with is the decisions regarding if a law or government action violates the constitution Judicial review therefore puts the Supreme Court in a crucial role in the American political system making it the referee in disputes among various branches of government and as the ultimate authority
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