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As noted last week, the third branch of our federal government is the Judiciary.The Constitution created a Judiciary Branch, or the United States Supreme Court.Then, the Judiciary Act of 1789, which then became the 11th Amendment to the Constitution, and subsequent laws of Congress created the federal court system for initial hearing of cases, through the appeals courts, and then to the Supreme Court.

Having this federal court system is important because we say that our system of one of the “rule of law,” which means there is need to some institution to determine whether the laws passed by our Congress, and then signed by the President, are constitutional.This was not specified in the Constitution, but beginning shortly after this document was ratified and our federal government was installed, a process known as “judicial review” evolved, by which the judiciary—acting as an independent institution—determines whether laws passed by the legislature, and signed by the executive, are constitutional.

Following our American Revolution, under the government that was created with the Articles of Confederation, there were very clear reasons why a national (federal) court system was needed.With this government, states were protesting boundaries, commerce between them, issues of transportation, and matters of incorporation.There was need for a “referee” of sorts, to decide between states, between an individual and his state, and between an individual and another state.

It is important for us to remember that we, as American citizens, have the right to challenge the constitutionality of any law that is passed by Congress, state legislature, or local government.If we believe such a law infringes upon our constitutional civil liberties, as they are defined by the Constitution, we can “take the government to court.
Now, please respond to the following:
Can you think of an issue that is with us today in which you believe that your human or civil liberties, or those of other American citizens, are being infringed upon or might be threatened should Congress pass a particular law?So, think of recent news stories.What is a law that you believe infringes on the your or others’ liberties?Or, what law do you fear might be passed that you believe would do this?Finally, what might you do about a law that already exists or might be passed in the future that either infringes, or threatens, civil liberties or our remaining human liberties under the Constitution?

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