Segments in this Video

Judicial Branch (02:21)


This branch ensures the other branches of government do not violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court, established by the Constitution, is the highest federal court and appeals court in the country.

Establishing the Supreme Court (04:10)

The Supreme Court has nine justices who are appointed by the president and serve for life. Each appointment is approved by the Senate.

Power of the Supreme Court (05:54)

The Supreme Court did not have much power until the Bill of Rights was ratified. The court is meant to interpret the Constitution and not make policy, but its decisions can greatly influence policy. The concept of judicial review was established by an early Supreme Court case.

United States Courts System (04:23)

Each state has a law code and a state supreme court. The federal court system handles federal laws and the Supreme Court is the highest court. Two early Supreme Court cases dealt with the conflict between federal and state laws.

Landmark Supreme Court Cases (09:24)

Numerous Supreme Court cases have changed laws and society. Many cases dealt with free speech, civil liberties, and individual rights of citizens.

Dred Scott Decision (01:42)

Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857 stated that free or enslaved African-Americans were not American citizens and could not sue in federal court. It is considered one of the worst Supreme Court decisions.

Supreme Court Justices (08:50)

Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Justices are appointed to life terms but can be impeached. John Marshall was the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Operations (03:54)

Thousands of cases make it to the Supreme Court each year, but only about 150 are heard. At least four justices must agree to hear a case. A majority and dissenting opinion are issued after the justices deliberate.

Credits: The Judicial Branch of Government (02:03)

Credits: The Judicial Branch of Government

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The Judicial Branch of Government

Part of the Series : Understanding Government
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The Supreme Court’s responsibility is to interpret all laws and ensure that they do not conflict with the founding principles of the Constitution. Examine numerous landmark cases including Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch vs. Maryland, and Gibbons v. Ogden. The challenges faced by the Judicial Branch over the history of the United States are fascinating and crucial to complete understanding of the American political system.

Length: 44 minutes

Item#: BVL154880

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

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