More State Legislature and The Courts - Week 8 - POLS 2312
More State Legislature and The Courts - Week 8 - POLS 2312 POLS 2312-006
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sera on Saturday October 15, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 2312-006 at University of Texas at Arlington taught by Daniel D Sledge in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see State & Local Government in History at University of Texas at Arlington.
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Date Created: 10/15/16
Note taker: Sera POLS 2312 A Little More State Legislature + The Courts US Congress and a few state legislatures have “professional” legislatures: o High pay o Full time job o Well-staffed Texas and other states have “amateur” legislatures o Not highly paid o Not a full time job o Not highly staffed (Texas is not considered fully “amateur” because it is highly staffed) How Bills Become Laws in Texas The process for a bill to become a law in Texas is very similar to how it works in Congress 1. A member of the Texas State House or Senate introduces a bill (referred to as “throwing it into the hopper”) 2. The bill will be referred to a committee by the Speaker of the House or Lieutenant Governor (depending on where it is introduced) where hearing will be held over it and debates will be held; during this time, it is edited in any way needed 3. The bill is sent out to the House/Senate floor where it is discussed further and then voted on 4. The bill is then sent to the other branch of legislature for the same process 5. Since different changes can be made to the same bill in the House and Senate, leading ultimately to two different bills being passed, a conference committee is formed from members of the House and Senate to discuss and amend the bill together. 6. After the bill is done being edited, it is sent back through the House and Senate to be voted on again 7. The bill is then sent to the Governor who can sign it into law, veto it (almost guaranteeing it will not become a law), or refuse to sign it (it still becomes a law, but sends a message about what the governor thinks of the law) The Filibuster First used in the US Senate Gives a great deal of power to individual Senators “Cloture” – vote to end a filibuster – requires 60 votes (in the US Senate) South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond holds the record for the longest filibuster at 24 hours 18 minutes while filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957 US Senators can talk about whatever they want when filibustering (can read phone books, cook books, etc.) Filibustering in Texas Note taker: Sera POLS 2312 o Discussion is limited to issues of “germane” to the bill being debated (you must talk about the bill, cannot talk about random things) o Senators cannot eat, drink, or use the bathroom o No sitting or leaning o Senators get a strike every time they violate a rule, at 3 strikes, they must end their filibuster o Wendy Davis filibustered for 11 hours against an anti-abortion bill on the last day of a special session The Courts “Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the mature of its functions will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them.” – The Federalist Papers #78 “Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever want to a ball game to see them umpire.” – Chief Justice John Roberts, 2005 Famous Cases Plessy v Ferguson (1896) – legalized segregation Brown v Board of Education (1954) – segregation declared unconstitutional Loving v Virginia (1967) – interracial marriage was made legal Roe v Wade (1973) – abortion is legal U.S. v Windsor (2013) – federal government must respect state-level marriage State Court Systems Federal District Courts hear several hundred thousand cases a year- mostly over bankruptcy Around 100 million cases are filed in state trial courts every year State courts resolve the vast majority of legal disputes in the US State Court Structure Trial Courts: an “empty slate” Justice Courts, Municipal Courts, County-level courts, and state district courts Appellate Courts Appellate courts do not decide issues of guilt or innocence or ensure that trials were conducted properly An appeal must argue that prejudicial legal errors (Errors that would have affected the outcome) were made in the original case Note taker: Sera POLS 2312 In some cases, a court may hear an “actual innocence” appeal- actual DNA evidence proving innocence Courts of Last Resort Hear appeals from the intermediate appellate courts Texas Supreme Court (9 Justices): has final appellate jurisdiction in civil cases Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (9 justices): Has final appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases Texas and Oklahoma are the only two states with two separate supreme courts Civil Law: often deals with relations between individuals and/or between organizations, state or federal government may take action for violations of regulations or contracts o May face fine or penalty, may have to give up property, but no jail time Criminal Law: Violations of law. The state takes action against an individual who has broken the law through a prosecutor o Jail is an option State of Texas v Calvin Burdine Calvin Burdine was charged with murdering a man, there was substantial evidence against him, but during his trial, his defense lawyer appeared to sleep during the entire trial Burdine was found guilty and got ahold of a high quality lawyer who appealed that they could not incarcerate a man whose lawyer was asleep during the trial Cockrell v Burdine: Burdine appealed to the federal court system because this was no a 6 amendment issue th o 6 amendment: Right to council was extended to state criminals in the Gideon v Wainwright case Ruling from the Federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals: “Unconscious council amounts to no council at all” Burdine’s trial was redone, with conscious council, and he was once again found guilty for murder Federal Court Structure US District Courts (trial courts) US Appellate Courts (hears the appeals of District Court decisions) Supreme Court (decides on the appeals) The United States Supreme Court 9 justices: 8 “associate” justices and one Chief Justice All judges have equal say and each has one vote If the Chief Justice is in the majority in a decision, he assigns the writing of the majority opinion; if not, the most senior justice in the majority does it Article 2, Section 2: “The President shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall… appoint judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Note taker: Sera POLS 2312 Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for…” o All federal justices/judges must be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate Judges nominated to the Supreme Court must be impartial and unbiased, they cannot take public stances on controversial issues o Robert Bork, in the 80’s, was nominated by Reagan to the Supreme Court, however, because he had taken public stances on controversial issues in the past, he was not confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate
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