Congress and the Courts Assignment Instructions

  • Our Founding Fathers created a system of government providing for checks and balances and a division of powers between the three branches of government.  Congress and the Courts have a unique relationship that you will learn about in this assignment.

    Use your own paper to complete the steps below.


    How are federal courts created? Use the link to Article III of the United States Constitution to explain your answer.
    How does one become a federal judge? Again look at the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section II,  to explain your answer.


    You might have noticed in Step One, the U.S. Constitution is pretty vague about the responsibility of the courts.  The primary responsibility of the courts was actually established by a famous Supreme Court case Marbury vs. Madison.
    Read and write a brief summary of the case.  Explain what precedent was established by the decision.


    Now that you know what judicial review is, lets look at some famous Supreme Court cases where judicial review was used to set limits on both the legislative and executive branches of government as well as the state governments.

    Use the link below to read about two supreme court cases. Briefly explain the precedent that was set by each case and how the case limited future government actions.

    All Government classes: you cannot use Gideon or Marbury as one of your examples.

    Famous Landmark Cases (PBS) 

    Famous Landmark Cases (USA Today)



    A. Now that you know what the job of a federal judge entails, what type of person do you think should become a federal judge? 

    Make a list of qualifications you believe a federal judge should have.  Then, use the link to  read the brief the biographies of the current justices on the Supreme Court.  Which ones meet your criteria?  What attributes do these judge have that you would add to your list?

    Biographical Link 2

    B. Qualifications are not the only thing the President considers in making federal appointments.  He looks at the mindset or political philosophy of the nominees.  Would you be a liberal or conservative judge on the court? Take the quiz linked below. Record your responses to the issues presented.

    How Your Views Compare with the Court


    Now, let's think about Congress and it's interaction with the courts. Use one of the links below to peruse current court rulings.

    Look at the articles and find an issue that the court has dealt with in the last year. Summarize the court's decision by answering the following questions:

    1. What was the issue at hand?

    2. What were the arguments on each side?

    3. What Constitutional issue was at stake?

    4. What did the court decide? or What do you think the court will decide?

    5. Do you agree or disagree with the court's ruling? or What do you think the court should decide?