This course examines the role of the federal courts in our constitutional system, including the sharing of power among the three branches of our national government, and the relationships between the federal and state governments. It will focus on the types of cases federal courts are authorized to hear, justiciability doctrines, congressional control over jurisdiction, the federal courts' review of both state court and lower federal court decisions, federal common law, federal question jurisdiction, litigating against the government and government officials, and the power of the federal courts to grant writs of habeas corpus. One theme running throughout the course is the proper role of the federal courts relative to the other branches of government, and the proper role of the federal courts relative to the states.
Wright, Oakley and Bassett, Federal Courts Cases and Materials (12th edition, Foundation Press)
Lecture and discussion, with emphasis on discussion
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Class participation and exam
Students should be prepared to participate in class discussion. This course can be theoretical and challenging, but is ultimately practical, dealing with the fundamentals of practice in the federal courts.