Skip to main content
Login to unlock Email share
This act is 222 years old, why should it still be important?The reason this act is still so important is that it maintains the basic structure or our court system. If our court system did not have any guidance or preset structure, it would surely collapse from the unbalance in power.
The Judiciary Act of 1789by Michael Oshatz
The Supreme CourtConsists of 6 justices: 1 chief justice and 5 associate justices, well qualified and appointed for life directly by the president. This court will handle any cases that involve treaties, constitutionality, disputes between states, admiralty, and bankruptcy. This court has the final say in any federal cases, however they are not obligated to review all cases brought to them.
Circuit CourtsThese courts at the time of the act's development handled cases with serious crimes, diversity cases, cases where one person was an alien to the U.S., and cases that exceeded $500. There were 3 of these courts that each included 1 district judge and two supreme court justices, to force the supreme court justices to know about local matters as well as federal matters.
What is it?- The Judiciary Act of 1789 is what defined how the U.S. court system would be run. The act describes the structure and operation of the judicial branch of the U.S. government.
How does it work?- The original court system that the act set up was a 3 tiered hierarchy of power consisting of the following:
District CourtsThere were originally 13 of these courts covering 13 federal districts. These courts handled minor criminal cases and admiralty cases.
How has it changed?Over the years, circuits have been increased to 11, Supreme Court justices have increased to 9, and more courts have been added in state level and federal level. Other than that, it is rather impressive that the overall concept of our court system has hardly changed since the Judiciary act of 1789 was passed.
Where has this act been used?A good example of this act's use in real life is a case known as Marbury Vs. Madison. In this case, new circuit court judges were being rushed to get into position before the presidency was handed from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson. Seeing that their jobs were at stake, William Marbury demanded that Secretary of State James Madison allow the appointments to go through. The Supreme court denied it saying that it was unconstitutional according to the Judiciary Act of 1789.