The Court System

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11298

"Law and Order" was a popular TV show. It's also a concept enshrined in our society to prevent people from seeking their own vengeance. Learn about the U.S. court system and how cases move through it!

categories

United States

subject
Government
learning style
Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Batman has become one of the most popular and exciting comic book characters to hit the big screen. He doesn't even have any super powers — not even one! He does have a lot of cool technology that helps him in his night job, which is … being a vigilante.

A vigilante is someone who goes outside of the law to get justice. That seems great when the line between bad guy and good guy is clear, like it often is in the comic-book world. In the real world, though, do we really want people running around enforcing their own justice, even in the worst crime cases?

Reflect on the following questions, and discuss with a parent or teacher:

  • What is the court system for?
  • How did the court system start?
  • What would society be like without a court system?

The idea of courts goes way, way back in history.

The ancient Greeks and Romans devised their own legal systems, as did the Islamic world, the Catholic Church, and other cultures and religions. Our legal tradition descends from centuries-old British common law, but the court system that sustains the law in the U.S. is explained in the Constitution.

Let's take a look at the exact passage that forms the foundation of the U.S. Court System. Read the U.S. Constitution Article III, courtesy of the National Constitution Center. The useful part for the purposes of this lesson is contained in Section 1. Answer the following questions based on what you uncover:

  • What court or courts does the U.S. Constitution establish in Article III, Section 1?
  • Who, according to the Constitution, is responsible for setting up all the other courts?
  • Why do you think the Constitution says so little about something so important?

Reflect on the following questions and discuss with a parent or teacher:

  • Based on what you know, how many different types or levels of courts are there?
  • Why have all these different courts and levels?
  • Why shouldn't we have just one type and one level of court?

There are so many different reasons why someone would need to use a court. As in other areas of life, like in medicine or computer technology, it is necessary to have specialists who know how to deal with certain kinds of issues. There are other reasons to have different levels and types of courts as well.

In the Got It? section, you will explore some of those reasons.

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