Article III establishes the judicial branch of government, which is responsible for interpreting the laws. At the highest level, the judicial branch is led by the U.S. Supreme Court, which today consists of nine justices. In the federal system, the lower courts consist of the courts of appeals and the district courts. Learn more about judicial independence and judicial review in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.
This lesson exposes students to the judicial branch and the power of judicial review. They will read about an actual Supreme Court case, Torcaso v. Watkins, to see how the judicial branch used its power of judicial review to strike down an unconstitutional state law.
The Supreme Court, considered by some to be the most powerful branch, had humble beginnings. How did it stop being, in the words of Alexander Hamilton, “”next to nothing?” Do politics affect the court’s decisions? And how do cases even get there?
This episode features Larry Robbins, lawyer and eighteen-time advocate in the Supreme Court, and Kathryn DePalo, professor at Florida International University and past president of the Florida Political Science Association.
This short episode includes a one-page Graphic Organizer for students to take notes on while listening, as well as discussion questions on the back side.