AP US Government : Structure of the Federal Courts

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

The Supreme Court of the United States hears appeals from cases that were previously heard in __________________.

Possible Answers:

the District of Columbia Court of Appeals

a select number of Federal Appeals Courts

State Courts but not Federal Appeals Courts

Federal Appeals Courts and State Courts

Federal Appeals Courts but not State Courts

Correct answer:

Federal Appeals Courts and State Courts

Explanation:

Article Three of the Constitution leaves a great number of specifics about the Federal judiciary up to later developments. "The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish," is the most detail it gives about specific courts. Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court hears cases that have been through all levels of Federal appeals courts as well as through State appeals courts.

Example Question #2 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

Which of these is a characteristic of the federal judiciary?

Possible Answers:

Serve ten-year terms

Appointed by the president

Elected by the public

Always comprised of ten judges

Cannot be removed before their term is over

Correct answer:

Appointed by the president

Explanation:

Members of the federal judiciary are always appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. They are never elected, and they serve lifelong terms unless they are impeached. Also, Congress decides how many justices to place in the Supreme Court, but the Judiciary Act of 1869 fixed the number at nine.

Example Question #3 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

Who is the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (in 2015)?

Possible Answers:

John G. Roberts

Earl Warren

William Rehnquist

Warren Burger

Roger B. Taney

Correct answer:

John G. Roberts

Explanation:

The Chief Justice as of January 1, 2015 was John G. Roberts. He was preceded by William Rehnquist, who was preceded by Warren Burger, who was preceded by Earl Warren. Roberts was nominated to the position of Chief Justice by George W. Bush and took his seat in 2005. He is known to be conservative and to adhere to tradition and precedent.

Example Question #4 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

The first woman was appointed to the Supreme Court by __________.

Possible Answers:

Richard Nixon in 1971

John F. Kennedy in 1962

Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937

Ronald Reagan in 1981

Bill Clinton in 1998

Correct answer:

Ronald Reagan in 1981

Explanation:

The first woman appointed to the Supreme Court was Sandra Day O’Connor, in 1981, by President Ronald Reagan.

Example Question #5 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

How many Justices sit on the contemporary Supreme Court of the United States?

Possible Answers:

Nineteen

Nine

Six

Eleven

Fifteen

Correct answer:

Nine

Explanation:

There are nine Justices on the Supreme Court of the United States. There were originally six Justices—although this creates the obvious problem that there would be frequent instances of ties; however, it has been set at nine Justices for the majority of its history. The number of Supreme Court Justices is determined by Congress, not by the Constitution.

Example Question #6 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

Which of these best describes why Supreme Court Justices serve for life?

Possible Answers:

Because the Constitutional Framers believed that Judicial wisdom would take several years to accumulate

Because the Constitutional Framers wanted Justices to be free from public pressure and electoral accountability

Because the Constitutional Framers wanted to ensure that Justices would remain accountable to the public

Because the early political parties feared the dominance of the Executive Branch

Because the early political parties wanted to solidify their hold on power by ensuring their chosen Justices would serve long after the other members had been voted out of office

Correct answer:

Because the Constitutional Framers wanted Justices to be free from public pressure and electoral accountability

Explanation:

There are two reasons why the Constitutional Framers decided to make Supreme Court Justice positions unelected and tenured. The first is part of the system of checks and balances that pervades the American political process—if Justices cannot be removed from office by the Legislative or Executive Branch, then there is an additional layer of balancing of power. This is not an answer choice, however. The second reason is that the Constitutional Framers wanted Justices to be able to make intelligent and sound decisions, free from the corrupting influence of being accountable to the public. If Supreme Court Justices were elected, they would have to make their decisions based on what would get them elected—rather than trying to shape public policy and opinion, they would be subject to both.

Example Question #7 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

Who represents the United States Government in a Supreme Court case?

Possible Answers:

The Speaker of the House

The Attorney General

The Solicitor General

The President pro tempore of the Senate

The relevant department head

Correct answer:

The Solicitor General

Explanation:

The Solicitor General is a member of the United States Justice Department and is tasked with taking up the position of the United States Government in any Supreme Court case that involves it as either the defendant or the claimant. The Solicitor General also reviews lower cases decided against the United States Government and determines whether the government will contest the ruling in the Supreme Court.

Example Question #8 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

The first level of the Federal Court system is referred to as __________.

Possible Answers:

district court

the magistrates court

the lower court

province court

The Supreme Court

Correct answer:

district court

Explanation:

In the United States Federal court system, the district courts are where the vast majority of court cases are heard and resolved. They are the lowest level of the Federal court system.

Example Question #9 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

Court packing is most associated with which of the following United States presidents?

Possible Answers:

John F. Kennedy

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Ulysses Grant

Woodrow Wilson

Thomas Jefferson

Correct answer:

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Explanation:

Court packing was the colloquial term given to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempts to increase the number of judges in the Supreme Court in the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937. Roosevelt wanted to add more liberal judges to the Supreme Court to further enable the passage of his New Deal legislation.

Example Question #10 : Structure Of The Federal Courts

There are currently __________ Supreme Court Justices.

Possible Answers:

five

twelve

three

fifteen

nine

Correct answer:

nine

Explanation:

The current make-up of the Supreme Court is nine justices. The number of Justices has not been stipulated by the Supreme Court. Congressional acts have determined the number of justices and the current number of nine was set in 1869.

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