JUDICIARY, that branch of the gov ernment which is concerned with the ad ministration of justice, in cases civil or criminal; the system of courts of justice in a country; the judges collectively.
Nationa/.—Article III. of the Federal Constitution provides for the establish ment of United States courts to have jurisdiction both in law and in equity. This jurisdiction is in general distinct from, but is sometimes concurrent with, that of the State courts. The system which Congress adopted at its first ses sion remains unaltered in its essentials to the present time, except for the ad dition of the Court of Claims in 1855. The judges are nominated by the Presi dent and confirmed by the Senate. They retain office during good behavior. The judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, District Courts, a Court of Claims, a Court of Customs Appeal, District of Columbia courts, and a court for China. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction only of "cases affecting ambassadors, other public min isters and consuls, and those in which a State shall be a party"; but cases de cided in the other Federal courts, under certain prescribed conditions, can be re viewed by the Sufireme Court by virtue of its appellate jurisdiction. The limits of the original jurisdictions of the Dis trict and Circuit Courts, and the appel late jurisdiction of the latter over the former, are provided by law. Besides other matters, the Circuit Court has ex clusive jurisdiction of patent suits and the District Court of admiralty cases. The Court of Claims has jurisdiction of claims against the United States. The justices of the Supreme Court, be sides their functions as such, are each assigned to one of the circuits, being then known as circuit justices. There is also a separate circuit judge for each circuit, and a district judge for each dis trict. Circuit Courts may be held by the circuit justice, by the circuit judge or by the district judge sitting alone, or by any two of these sitting together.
The judges of each circuit and the jus tice of the Supreme Court for the cir cuit constitute a Circuit Coutt of Ap peals. As constituted at first, the Su
preme Court consisted of a chief-justice and five associate justices, but the num ber of the latter has been changed from time to time, and there are at present eight. Besides these regular Federal courts, the Senate sits when necessary as a court of impeachment; the District of Columbia has a Supreme Court over which the Supreme Court of the United States has appellate jurisdiction; and Territorial Courts are provided, the judges of which are nominated for terms of four years by the President, and con firmed by the Senate, and over which the Supreme Court has also appellate jurisdiction. Cases decided in the high est court of any State may also be re viewed by the United States Supreme Court, but only when Federal questions are involved; that is, when the contro versy deals with the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States.
State.—The judicial systems of the several States are too widely different to permit of explanation. In some of them courts of equity are distinct from those of law, while in others the same tribunals exercise both functions, and in still others all distinction between actions at law and suits in equity is abolished. The manner of selecting judges also varies in different States and from time to time. At the period of the formation of the United States, the elec tion of judges by the people was un known, except in Georgia. At the pres ent time, however, the people elect judges in 24 of the States. Judicial terms vary from 2 to 21 years, the aver age being 10 years. The question has been much discussed whether the judici ary should be elective by the people, or appointive by the executive or Legisla ture, or "councils of appointment." Most of the States have decided in favor of the former, but many of these have found it necessary to lengthen the terms of their elective judiciary in order to lessen the necessary evils of the system, which tends to supplant judicial justice by political shrewdness.