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The Court System: Federal

The federal system also has three levels, the district courts, the court of appeals and the United States Supreme Court. On the federal level, states are broken down into several geographic district courts. The federal courts of appeal hear cases from all the district courts in their area. Currently, there are 11 federal courts of appeals. Many hear cases coming out of district courts from several states which comprise each circuit. The United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. is the highest court in the land. Appeals to the Supreme Court are not automatic, but based upon petitions, which allow the Supreme Court justices to pick and choose what cases they will hear.

Only the United States Congress has the authority to pass legislation which overrules decisions of the Supreme Court. This is part of the checks and balances of power the founding fathers of this country created to ensure that no one branch of the government (legislative, judicial, or executive), had too much power. The United States Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the President and serve for life. There are 9 Justices.

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