16. THE JUDICIARY. Origin and De velopment. (a) State Courts.— While our American judicial system, like so many of our institutions, was modeled after that of England and was permeated by the principles and tradi tions of the English law, it is also true that for practical purposes it dates not so much from the American Colonial Period as from the years of readjustment following the Revo lution. The necessity under which most of the States were placed by the separation from Eng land of adjusting their governmental institu tions to meet the demands of an independent existence afforded an opportunity for working out changes in their judicial systems which could not under any circumstances have been long postponed. Colonial administration of justice had been marked by serious defects. The judicial function was shared by executive and even legislative officials. The courts were, in the main, manned by untrained magistrates who dispensed justice according to their no tions of common sense and fair play rather than according to established and uniform rules of law. The State courts which came gradu ally to replace this archaic and inadequate sys tem followed in general the model of the then existing English judiciary. In the first place, there were the justices of the peace and local inferior courts for petty cases. There were, secondly, superior courts having original juris diction in civil and criminal cases and organ ized on a scheme either of districts or cir cuits. In the third place, there were courts of last resort usually exercising nothing but appellate jurisdiction. Some States further complicated the machinery of justice by setting up intermediate appellate courts occupying a place between the second and third groups just referred to. This general arrangement of courts still forms the backbone of our State judicial organization.
(b) Federal Courts.— Experience under the Articles of Confederation demonstrated the necessity of a separate system of Federal courts. The attempt to rely upon State tribu nals, supplemented by the feeble efforts of a judicial committee of the Congress, failed mis erably. The framers of the Constitution rec ognized that there must be national courts to deal with at least three important groups of cases: first, disputes arising between the States of the Union; second, disputes arising from the relations of the national government to foreign nations, such as matters covered by treaties; and third, controversies over the mean ing of the Constitution itself or the laws passed in pursuance of it. Since all these cases could if necessary be taken care of by one Federal tribunal, the framers of the Con stitution contented themselves with providing for the organization of a Supreme Court of the United States and stipulating that such inferior courts should be created "as Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.)) Not merely the details but the broad outlines of the judicial organization of the United States are accordingly to be sought in the acts of Congress rather than in the clauses of the Federal Constitution. The first Congress of the United States enacted the famous Judiciary Act of 1789, organizing the Supreme Court, establishing a system of inferior courts and marking out the jurisdiction of each. With
some amendments this act formed the basis of the entire system of Federal courts until it was replaced by a revised Judiciary Act in 1911.
Federal Judicial Organization.—At the pres ent time the judicial system of the United States comprises three grades of courts for the trans action of ordinary judicial business and two special courts: (1) The District Courts, 80 in number, form the lowest grade of Federal tri bunals. They try civil and criminal cases and have original jurisdiction only. They are the only Federal courts in which a jury is used. Each district has a Federal district attorney and marshal to facilitate the work of the court and enforce its decrees. The jurisdiction of the District Court attaches in two types of cases. The first is the group of cases involv ing the interpretation or application of the laws, treaties or Constitution of the United States, cases which are referred to as involving a "Federal)) question. The second kind of case is that in which the legal rights of citizens of different States are involved. Here the basis of jurisdiction is "diversity of citizenship?) The District Courts hear cases both in law and equity following the rules of procedure suitable to each. (2) The intermediate Federal courts are the nine Circuit Courts of Appeal created in 1891 to relieve the Supreme Court of some of its burden. These courts, sitting both in law and equity, hear appeals from the District Courts and in certain cases not involving the constitutionality of laws have final jurisdiction. In cases raising constitutional questions, appeal of course lies to the Supreme Court. Prior to 1911 a group of courts known as Circuit Courts stood between the District Courts and the Cir cuit Courts of Appeal, but in that year they were abolished and their work given to the District Courts. (3) The Supreme Court of the United States is the court of last resort on all ques tions brought up on appeal from lower Federal courts and in all cases removed from the State courts for a determination of the meaning or application of the treaties, statutes or Consti tution of the United States. It has original jurisdiction in all cases involving ambassadors and public ministers of a foreign government and those to which a State is a party. The court consists of a chief justice and eight asso ciate justices and a majority of the court is necessary to decide a case. c4) In addition to the courts of general jurisdiction just described, there are two special Federal courts. One of these is the Court of Claims which has juris diction in all cases involving claims of a con tractual nature against the Federal government. The Court of Claims has no power, however, to give effect to its own judgments. Successful litigants before it are obliged to look to Con gress for appropriations to satisfy the awards made. The 'other special Federal court is the Court of Customs Appeal which, as its name indicates, hears appeals upon all questions re lating to the administration of the tariff laws. Its jurisdiction in these matters is final.