American Government Lecture Three
Constitution Day is on September 17th each year, to celebrate that the "Framers" signed the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787, at the completion of the Constitutional Convention. These Framers were led by George Washington, who presided over the convention, and included Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and, from New Jersey, William Livingston and William Paterson. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were not part of the Constitutional Convention and never signed the Constitution, because they were away representing the United States in foreign nations at the time (in England and France, respectively). Indeed, this entire week, from September 17 through 23, is "Constitution Week."
The U.S. Constitution did not become law immediately on Constitution Day. Instead, it was sent to the 13 former colonies to consider replacing the Articles of Confederation that were governing them at the time. Vigorous debate between the "Federalists" (led by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison) and the "Anti-Federalists" (led by Patrick Henry and George Mason) ensued, with the Federalists favoring ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the Anti-Federalists opposing it. The Federalists wrote the "Federalist Papers" anonymously as a series of articles in a leading New York newspaper to urge ratification by the large state of New York, which was pivotal to formation of the new United States under the U.S. Constitution. Today the "Federalist Papers" are used as "legislative history" in interpreting what the U.S. Constitution really means.
Note the reference to "U.S." in "U.S. Constitution." Every state also has its own State Constitution. In New Jersey our State Constitution gave the people the power to recall congressmen from office, until the N.J. Supreme Court held, in a case argued by your instructor, that the U.S. Constitution prohibits recalling congressmen. Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, it takes priority and preempts any state law that is contrary to it.
This year there were commemorations of Constitution Day around the nation. Why? Because the U.S. Constitution is the longest governing document in the world, and the single biggest reason for the greatest prosperity this world has ever known: the United States of America.
- 1 The "Media"
- 2 "All Issues Are Political Issues"
- 3 Constitutional Convention
- 4 Articles of Confederation
- 5 Federal Judiciary
- 6 Judicial Activism
- 7 Political and legal terminology
- 8 Homework
- 9 References
"The media run this country" is a phrase you may have heard more than once. The "media" refers to the small group of people who decide what appears on television and in newspapers, and to a lesser extent radio. The internet is not considered part of the "mainstream media," because the internet is not controlled by a small group of people as television and newspapers are.
Who runs the media? Not farmers, soldiers, engineers, homeschoolers, ministers, police officers or any of the average Americans who work hard every week. Instead, the media is run by people who got their job there because they "knew somebody," and over time became powerful at a television or newspaper company. Some you see on television, but others are executives who work behind-the-scenes. As a group, they overwhelmingly support Democrats and liberal policies, such as abortion and government funding of leftist organizations.
Books, such as Bias, describe in detail how one-sided the views of the people in the media are. So why are they influential?
One reason is that when an average person hears something at least seven times, then he believes it. So if the media repeat something over and over, many Americans will believe it without checking on its truthfulness themselves. Another way of saying this the common phrase, "perception is reality."
Most politicians spend much of each day worrying and wondering what the media will say about them. This is partly due to egotism -- politicians want to be cast in favorable light in the media -- but this is also due to legitimate concern about the impact of negative media statements about them. The media forced President Nixon to resign in 1973; the media have incited wars such as the Spanish American War; and the media completely destroyed the credibility of certain elected officials such as the former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle.
The media can make enormous differences in the success or failure of businesses, entertainers, and even some sports athletes. Many people hire "publicists" to create positive media stories about them.
A politician disliked by the media has a difficult time winning an election, while a politician promoted by the media is likely to win. When virtually every newspaper endorsed Democrat Jim McGreevey for governor of New Jersey in 2001, he then easily defeated the more conservative, and better qualified, pro-life Republican Bret Schundler. Why did New Jersey newspapers prefer McGreevey? Because newspapers have liberal positions on issues like abortion, and McGreevey supported those liberal views. Later, after the election, McGreevey abruptly resigned from office, but the media almost never admit they made a mistake.
The growing use of the internet is reducing the influence of television and newspapers. Each year many American families are disconnecting their televisions, and many newspapers have been going bankrupt. In another ten or twenty years newspapers may have lost their influence entirely, and television will probably continue to decline also.
Elections to the House of Representatives (congressmen) are influenced the least by the media, because there 435 different districts, too many for the centralized media to focus on. Elections to the U.S. Senate and the presidency are strongly influenced by the media. Accordingly, it is not surprising that elected congressmen tend to be more conservative than elected senators and presidents.
"All Issues Are Political Issues"
George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm and 1984, famously observed that "all issues are political issues." His comment was not intended to be a compliment, but instead a criticism of many decisions in this world that are influenced by political considerations.
Politics pervades governmental decisions, obviously, but politics extends far beyond that. When you hear news you don't understand, or even if you think you understand it, ask yourself: is there a political reason for this?
For example, the Salem Witch Trials in 1692, in which about 20 were executed for allegedly being witches (a term that included men and women), are difficult to understand from a strictly legal perspective. But when the politics of the town are explained, then the bizarre episode is not so mysterious. Poor people in the town, who sat on the juries, were resentful of some of the accused wealthier defendants. The accusations and trials became a form of class struggle.
Similarly, the acquittal of African American celebrity O.J. Simpson of murdering his white ex-wife is surprising if one looks only at the mountain of evidence that was presented against him. To understand this, one must recognize the tense racial politics of the Los Angeles area, including the Rodney King incident and the subsequent race riots, and that helps explain why an almost entirely African American jury acquitted O.J. Simpson against charges presented primarily by a white prosecutor based on testimony by white police officers.
Politics extends even to fast food. The president of Chick-fil-A spoke out in defense of traditional marriage, and soon afterward the fast-food chain was the focus of a political dispute. Many went there in support of its position, while others said they would no longer go there. One executive filmed an abusive tirade that he unleashed on a Chick-fil-A employee due to the politics, and then that executive himself was fired from his job after his video "went viral" on the internet (was widely seen and talked about).
Even sports, which is supposed to be based entirely on skill, is influenced by politics. A Greek Olympic athlete was excluded from competing for her team because of a political joke she made on Twitter, despite how she had trained for years and qualified to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics. As another example, how much the outspoken Christian Tim Tebow plays in games for the New York Jets has become a political issue in the New York area. In last Sunday's game between the Jets and Steelers, Tim Tebow was abruptly pulled out of the game despite doing better than the other quarterback. The Jets then lost 27-10 without Tebow being allowed to throw a single pass, to a team that Tebow had defeated 8 months earlier. The Jets coach was surprised at a subsequent "press conference" (an invitation to the media to ask questions and obtain answers) when the media, which has been generally hostile to Tebow because of his political views, demanded that the coach explain why he pulled Tebow out of the game so quickly. This illustrated how fickle the media can be - don't expect the media to be friendly.
Participation by nations in the Olympics is also subject to politics. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter insisted that the United States boycott and not participate in the Summer Olympics in protest over the invasion of the communist Soviet Union by Afghanistan, because those Olympic Games were being held in Moscow. Predictably, the Soviet Union then retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics, because that year the Olympics were held in Los Angeles.
Television did not exist in 1787, but the Framers at the Constitutional Convention knew then how powerful and harmful the media can be. They agreed to keep the deliberations and details about the U.S. Constitution secret until it was finally completed. When the Framers finished their work and left Independence Hall for the last time, someone noticed Benjamin Franklin leaving the building and asked him whether the Framers gave us a monarchy or a republic. Benjamin Franklin responded, "a republic, if you can keep it." The struggle for the values on which the United States was founded is ongoing and never-ending.
To defend the Constitution effectively, it is important to recognize how powerful the media are and how political nearly everything is. No should expect legislators and elected government officials to "do what's right"; elected government officials are going to "do what helps them get reelected," and avoid doing anything that might cause them to be defeated. Presidents, for example, have a constitutional right to pardon unjustly convicted or unjustly published criminal defendants, but grant pardons infrequently because they can be hurtful politically. An exception is when the president is about to leave office, as Democratic President Clinton was in January 2001, when he granted dozens of pardons in his final few hours in office ... to many of his political supporters!
Governor Chris Christie commuted (ended) a 7-year prison sentence for Brian Aitken, who received that harsh punishment merely for possessing a gun in the trunk of his car as he moved to New Jersey. After there was publicity and attention from politically powerful Second Amendment groups (the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms - guns) about this injustice, NJ Governor Chris Christie commuted Aitken's sentence and ordered his release from jail. But where there are not powerful political groups on the side of the unjustly punished, pardons and commutations of sentences are very rare, despite being authorized by the federal and state constitutions.
Articles of Confederation
The U.S. Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, which were unsuccessful in fully uniting the colonies after the American Revolution. The Articles of Confederation, which did create the United States, had these defects:
- no president
- no national court system
- no limits on states taxing goods received from businesses in other states (interstate commerce)
- no practical way to amend the document (unanimous consent, which is very difficult to achieve, was required)
- no way for Congress to raise money except by voluntary donations by the states
- no way to stop states that have major ports, such as Rhode Island, from taxing imports
- no way to put down rebellions, such as Shay's Rebellion
The Articles of Confederation were too weak to be successful. During the 1780s when the Articles of Confederation were in place, only two laws of significance passed: the Land Ordinance of 1785 (an successful law for selling government land at an expensive price to the public) and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (an unsuccessful law that established rules for settling and forming states in the territory northwest to the colonies, resulting in the eventual formation of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin). Query: how many of the states in the northwest territory are "swing states" in the upcoming presidential election?
The different sections of the newly formed United States had very different approaches to schooling children. In Puritan New England, public schools were established and attendance was compulsory as a way of trying to combat evil and promote good. Those public schools were very Christian, unlike public schools today. Meanwhile, the southern colonies had almost no compulsory schooling, and the farms relied on the apprentice system, much as Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio do today. In the middle colonies, such as Maryland, there were many religious schools.
The Land Ordinance of 1785 was enacted under the Articles of Confederation (before the U.S. Constitution was written and ratified), and it required new townships to set aside land for public schools.
Many, perhaps most, of the great Americans over the years were homeschooled, such as Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison.
Article III of the U.S. Constitution establishes the United States Supreme Court and authorizes Congress to create lower federal courts as part of a national court system. One of the first Acts passed by the new Congress in 1789, after the U.S. Constitution was ratified, was the Judiciary Act to create the federal court system. President George Washington signed this bill, officially entitled "An Act to Establish the Judicial Courts of the United States," into law on September 24, 1789. This law also established the office of Attorney General in the Executive branch, within the Department of Justice, to enforce the federal laws in the federal court system.
Congress has amended this law many times over the 223 years since it was first passed, but the basic structure of the federal court system remains largely the same.
The federal judiciary has three levels:
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Courts of Appeals
- U.S. District Courts
A typical case begins at the local district court level, and then goes on appeal to the Court of Appeals that supervises that district court. After the Court of Appeals renders a decision, the losing party can petition the U.S. Supreme Court for its review of the decision. The U.S. Supreme Court accepts only 1% of the requests for it to review case, and it renders only about 75 decisions a year out of tens of thousands of decisions rendered by the other federal courts each year.
In federal court, the plaintiff must have legal "standing" or else the case will be dismissed. That is, the plaintiff must suffer an individual harm caused by the defendant, and the court must be able to grant relief that would redress that harm. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, which means that a plaintiff must first prove that his case belongs in federal court. Further, under the Constitution, federal courts can only decide actual cases and controversies; they cannot issue advisory opinions.
Valid reasons for suing in federal court include lawsuits based on rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or federal statutes (including federal prosecutions of crimes). Legal standing also exists in federal court if the amount in dispute is substantial (more than $75,000) and the controversy is between citizens of different states ("diversity jurisdiction"). Most other cases, including the prosecution of most crimes ("criminal cases") and most disputes between individuals ("civil cases"), are handled in state courts.
U.S. Supreme Court
Today there are nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court (that number has varied in prior centuries). It's an odd rather than even number so that tie votes are very rare.
One of the most important presidential powers is the appointment of a new Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, when there is a vacancy. The U.S. Constitution provides that such appointment must be based on the "Advice and Consent" of the Senate, which means that "confirmation" by a majority vote of the Senate is required. U.S. Const. Art II, Sec. 2, Cl. 2 (The President "by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court ....").
The U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to grant petitions for certiorari ("cert"), which means that it will then review and decide the merits of the case, based on the "Rule of Four." The Rule of Four is simply this: if 4 out of the 9 Supreme Court Justices vote to hear a case, then the petition for cert is granted and the Supreme Court schedules the case for a full argument by both sides for a decision on the merits of the case by the Court.
The current Supreme Court "grants cert" and hears about 75 cases each year, which is only about 1% of the cases brought before on petitions. Nearly all the cases are on appeal from a U.S. Court of Appeals; a few are on appeal from state courts, such as a state Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court uses two criteria in deciding whether to "grant cert" and hear an appeal:
- is there a conflict between courts in different parts of the Nation, which the Court should resolve?
- is the issue of immense national interest that the U.S. Supreme Court should decide?
The first reason -- a conflict between courts in different parts of the Nation -- is known as a "Circuit split." Each U.S. Court of Appeals is a numbered Circuit, as discussed below, and when they disagree on an issue and render conflicting decisions, then the U.S. Supreme Court likes to accept one of the cases to establish what the rule of law will be for that issue nationwide.
For example, if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (which includes New Jersey) ruled that a search warrant is needed under the Fourth Amendment before police can search the trunk of someone's car, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (which includes New York) ruled that cops can search the trunk of someone's car without obtaining a search warrant, then the U.S. Supreme Court would "grant cert" on appeal from one of the two cases in order to establish a national, uniform rule concerning whether a search warrant is needed or not.
Unfortunately, many of the legal issues decided by the U.S. Supreme Court are more obscure than the above example. Among the 75 cases decided each year by this Court, only about 5-10 of them are recognizable to the general public.
One of the more interesting cases, in which your instructor was involved, was whether violent video games should receive protection as free speech under the First Amendment. Even though there was no "Circuit split" on this issue, your instructor filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to consider the issue due to its national importance. Millions of teenagers waste their lives playing hundreds of hours of video games each year, many of them extremely violent.
The Court heard oral argument from the State of California, which had passed a law limiting the sale of violent video games to children, on Election Day 2010 (the timing was a coincidence, and shows how the Court operates independent from elections). It took the Court longer to decide this case than any other issue that "Term" (the Court term lasts from October through June of the following year, before adjourning for the summer). Finally, on June 27, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision: 5 out of the 9 Justices, a slim majority, held that violent video games are protected as free speech under the First Amendment, even with respect to their sale to children, and no law can limit their sale or rentals to children). Do you agree?
Your instructor was immediately asked by USA Today to write an editorial about the decision, which it then published.
Court of Appeals
There are 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals, numbered 1 through 11, plus D.C., plus a special "Federal Circuit" for handling patent and a few other specific issues:
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Vermont, Connecticut and New York)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (located in Philadelphia, this Circuit handles appeals from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, plus the US Virgin Islands)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Virginia, West Virginia and North and South Carolina)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Arkansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and North and South Dakota)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (by far the largest Circuit, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Alabama, Georgia, and Florida)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (appeals from federal court in D.C.)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (patent issues and claims against the U.S.)
These Circuits average about a dozen active judges each, with far more for the massive Ninth Circuit, and less for the smaller Circuits such as the D.C. Circuit. In total there are more than 100 federal appellate judges in the United States.
These Circuits have a duty to accept and hear appeals brought before them. Someone in a federal lawsuit has a mandatory right to appeal a district court decision to this level, and obtain a review of what the district court decided.
Because the U.S. Supreme Court considers only 1% of the cases brought before it, about 99% of the decisions by these Courts of Appeals are the last word in a lawsuit.
Several of these Courts of Appeals are known to be conservative-leaning, while others are liberal-leaning in their viewpoint, often reflecting the political views of the region they represent.
A decision in one Court of Appeals does not bind (control) the decisions in other Courts of Appeals. However, it is common for a Court of Appeal to refer to decisions by other Courts of Appeals when resolving an issue before it, when there is no prior decision in its own Court of Appeals that controls the outcome.
Appellate courts use 3-judge panels
Unlike the district court level, where decisions are rendered by only one "trial" judge, the decisions rendered by each Court of Appeals is by a 3-judge panel. It's an odd number to reduce the possibility of a tie vote.
In rare cases of immense importance, such as abortion, the losing party may petition all the active judges on a Court of Appeals to "rehear en banc" a decision by a 3-judge panel. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (or "the Eighth Circuit" for short) did exactly that in the past year to overturn a panel decision that favored abortion, and the en banc court then voted 7-4 to uphold a good pro-life law in South Dakota.
District Court is the trial level, where cases are decided by juries or by the judge himself. There are a total of 89 districts in the 50 United States (New Jersey and Alaska have only one federal district each, but Oklahoma has three!). There are also district courts in territories of the United States, such as Puerto Rico, where proceedings must be conducted in English even though Spanish is the language of that island.
In federal court, the Seventh Amendment guarantees a right to a jury trial when someone sues for damages. But when a lawsuit is only for an injunction or declaratory relief, such as ordering a school to remove the Ten Commandments, then there is no right to a jury trial, and the judge will conduct a "bench trial" whereby the judge decides the issue. Furthermore, it is possible for both parties to waive their right to a jury trial before a complaint is filed (such as in a contract) or afterwards (by failing to timely request a jury trial).
There is much strategy among attorneys in choosing whether they prefer a jury trial or a bench trial, and there are some surprising views on the topic. A study found, for example, that often a criminal defendant is better off with a bench trial.
"Article III Judges"
"Article III" judges are those appointed by the President and confirmed by a majority of the U.S. Senate to lifetime tenure as federal judges, to either the district court, a Court of Appeals, or the U.S. Supreme Court. They are not elected and they can only be removed from office if impeached by the Senate, which is rare and has never been done due to how they decided a case.
There are also non-Article III judges, such as magistrate and bankruptcy judges. They are appointed for a fixed term (such as eight years), which can be renewed. These jobs are not guaranteed until they retire, as Article III jobs are. Magistrate judges can conduct jury trials only if both sides to the dispute consent.
Each State also has its own court system. Most states have elected judges, but some (including New Jersey) do not. In New Jersey, a judge is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, and after a fixed period of years comes up for renewal. Only if he is renewed does he enjoy the equivalent of "tenure" or a lifetime job.
Judges tend to be more conservative if they are elected, because voters tend to be more conservative than most lawyers. In the South (and in New York) the state judges are elected. When judges are elected, their cases must be reassigned to other judges upon losing reelection.
The "Warren Court" (the Supreme Court when its Chief Justice was Earl Warren) lasted 16 years, from 1953 to 1969, and became known for its liberal "judicial activism." It banned school prayer (Engel v. Vitale), established expansive new rights for criminal defendants, such as the "Miranda warning" ("you have the right to remain silent ...."), the exclusionary rule (evidence seized improperly cannot be used against a defendant in court), and the right of most criminal defendants to have an attorney provided for them at taxpayer expense. The Warren Court also ordered states to redraw their state legislative districts in order to make them equal in size by population, which hurt the more conservative rural districts by requiring them to include more liberal city populations in their districts. In general, the Warren Court declared new "rights" to exist in the Constitution that are not expressly there, under a view that the meaning of the Constitution is "evolving" rather than fixed at the time it was written.
Republican presidential candidates successfully campaigned against "judicial activism" by the U.S. Supreme Court, and many agree that some of its decisions -- particularly banning school prayer -- have been extremely hurtful to the United States.
This issue is not new: even Thomas Jefferson complained about "judicial activism" when he successfully campaigned for president in 1800, and Jefferson then unsuccessfully insisted that a U.S. Supreme Court Justice be impeached and removed from office based on his decisions (Samuel Chase, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence). Jefferson preferred "strict constructionism," meaning that the powers given by the Constitution to the federal government should be interpreted narrowly.
Political and legal terminology
There are many unusual political and legal terms, and new ones are created almost every year. Often these terms are taken from ordinary usage but given a special meaning in the political or legal context.
For example, the term "trial balloon" has an important political meaning: it refers to "leaking" a planned decision to the media to see if the public reaction is negative before the decision is officially announced, much like floating a balloon into the air to see if it pops. If the public reaction is negative to a "trial balloon," then the politician can change the decision before officially making it. He can even claim that the advance "leak" of the news of the decision was false, despite having privately authorized it himself!
There are many more tricks in politics, which are aptly described by other terminology. Once you'll be hearing about in the next six weeks in the media is the term "coattails", which refers to how the success of a presidential candidate can lift members of his same political party to success when they are on the same ballot (for other offices). If Obama does well on Election Day, then his "coattails" may cause Democratic Senate candidates to win also; the converse will likely be true if Romney does well on Election Day. Ronald Reagan had enormous coattails in the Election of 1980, but less of a coattail effect when he won by an even bigger margin in 1984.
Answer the first five questions, and then two of the remaining three:
1. Describe the process for a case (lawsuit) in federal court, including where a federal case begins, where the first level of appeal is, and where the second possible level of appeal would be. Give a hypothetical example picking a beginning location in the nation for the case (e.g., New Jersey).
2. What is the Rule of Four?
3. Are federal judges elected? Should they be? Also, give an example of a non-Article III judge, and explain what that term means.
4. What are the two types of cases that are litigated in federal courts?
5. Discuss the influence of the media on politics.
6. Do you think it was smart for the Framers of the U.S. Constitution to agree to withhold information from the media during the Constitutional Convention? Explain.
7. "All issues are political issues," observed George Orwell. Do you think this can be true even for sports, entertainment, or fast food? Pick an example and discuss it.
8. Explain the two bases on which the U.S. Supreme Court grants cert, and which one it likely used in granting cert in the violent video game case.
Extra credit (answer two of the following four questions):
9. Recently Apple won a billion-dollar patent case in federal district court in California against Samsung based on claims that Samsung had violated patents owned by Apple for the iPhone. Which court would handle the appeal? (Think about this question carefully before answering - many attorneys would give an incorrect answer.)
10. Where is the pardon power in the U.S. Constitution (include section and clause numbers), and upon whom does it confer the power to pardon? Was Governor Chris Christie acting pursuant to this power when he commuted Aitken's sentence? Explain.
11. Would a lawsuit by students demanding the right to establish a Bible club be brought in federal or state court? Which would increase the likelihood of success by the plaintiffs in such a case: a jury trial or a bench trial? Explain.
12. One federal appellate judge, whose decisions had been reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court more than any other judge, quipped words to the effect "it can't catch them all." What did he mean by that, and was he right?
You can post your answers at American Government Homework Three.
- 28 USC § 1332(a).
- http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/eanf/ (The ruling was announced as being 7-2, but it was 5-4 on the issue of whether states can limit the sale of violent video games to children.
- Because of the Ninth Circuit's size, rehearings en banc in the Ninth Circuit consist of a panel of eleven judges: the chief judge and ten other randomly selected judges 
- There is no right to a court-appointed attorney to defend against petty crimes and misdemeanors, such as traffic tickets.