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“John Marshall’s externship program offers quality field placements that develop professional and practical skills while ensuring  successful and meaningful on-the-job performance.” Paul Nam, Graduate (’12)

E-512 – Federal Courts


3 Credits

Can a federal court enforce a subpoena for confidential materials against a sitting President? Can it decide a suit by a federal judge challenging his impeachment by Congress? Should it do these things? Can a federal court interfere with the Military’s indefinite detention, with Congressional authorization and during “wartime”, of persons arrested in connection with foreign hostilities or alleged terrorism abroad? At home? Can Congress deprive federal courts of authority to hear these or other types of cases? Can it eliminate any federal courts altogether? When and how can one use the federal courts to sue for constitutional violations by a state or local government? By an FBI agent? When can—and when must--other types of cases be brought in federal court, or removed to it after begun in a state court? When can and when must they be brought and kept in state court? These are some of the questions that are considered in the Federal Courts course.

This course provides an overview of the nature and operation of the federal judicial system. It is both academic and practical, designed to provide an intellectual understanding of the federal judiciary necessary for all lawyers, as well as practical knowledge essential for representing clients in the federal courts. Among the topics covered are the bases of federal court jurisdiction; the role of the judiciary relative to other branches of the federal government and to state courts; limits on federal jurisdiction; choice of law in federal courts; and procedures for challenging state and federal governmental action in the federal courts. Special attention will be given to litigation under the federal “civil rights” statute, 42 U.S.C. §1983; the use of federal courts to pursue habeas corpus challenges of state criminal convictions; and particularly to recent developments in federal law and the role of federal courts in regulating conduct of the executive and legislative branches in connection with the “War on Terror”.

The course treats some issues and principles from Constitutional Law and Civil Procedure, but generally in greater depth and focused on the structure, functioning, and utilization of the federal court system. Completion of the course will provide a sound understanding of the federal judiciary essential to anyone who will represent or advise clients in that system, and important to all lawyers.

Fall Sections