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1 The U.S. Legal System: A Short Description 1 (2005)

handle is hein.congcourts/usleshort0001 and id is 1 raw text is: THE US LEGAL SYSTEM:
A Short Description
Federal Judicial Center
Background
The United States Constitution establishes a federal system of government. The
Constitution gives specific powers to the federal (national) government. All power not
delegated to the federal government remains with the states. Each of the fifty states
has its own state constitution and governmental structure.
Power in both the state and federal governments is separated into three
branches - the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. The legislative branch has
the power to create laws; and the judicial branch has the power to interpret and apply
these laws in individual cases and controversies. Separation of government authority
prevents abuse of power. As a control on the powers of the executive and legislative
branches, the judicial branch has the power of judicial review. Judicial review provides
the power of a court to declare legislative or executive acts invalid, if those acts are
contrary to the federal or state constitutions.
As a product of federalism, the United States has dual court system consisting of
the federal and state courts. The U.S. Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the
federal government and specifies the authority of the federal courts. Federal courts
have exclusive jurisdiction only over certain types of cases, such as cases involving
federal laws, controversies between states, and cases involving foreign governments.
In certain other areas federal courts share jurisdiction with state courts. For example,
both federal and state courts may decide cases involving parties who live in different
states. State courts have exclusive jurisdiction over the vast majority of cases.

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