The Watering Hole: Wednesday, July 13, 2011: Hump Day: The Supreme Court

Guess what? There is no Supreme Court in the American Constitution. Newt Gingrich said it, so it must be so. Right?

Well, let’s take a look at Article III:

The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

Ok. The Constitution does establish a Supreme Court. But what about what else Gingrich said, “the fact is the Congress can pass a law and can limit the Court’s jurisdiction.” Is that true? Can Congress simply pass a law and limit what the Court can hear?

In a word, Yes.

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.

So, only in cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, does the Supreme Court have original jurisdiction. That means one can file a claim directly to the Supreme Court. IN ALL OTHER CASES, the Supreme Court acts as a Court of Appeals…the matter has to be heard by a lower court first.

Therein lies the rub. Congress has the power to “ordain and establish” lower courts. Without lower courts, there cannot be appeals to the Supreme Court. If Congress abolishes the lower courts, the only cases the Supreme Court can hear are those involving ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party.

By eliminating the lower federal courts, Congress can eliminate the ability of the people to obtain relief if their Constitutional Rights have been violated. This is what Gingrich is advocating: Go to jail, go directly to jail. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200. And forget about the Bill of Rights.

This is our daily open thread. Freedom of speech on this thread has been upheld by a 5-4 vote. That means one vote the other way, and we censor the hell out of you!