Article III – Section 1:

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. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Only one Supreme Court, but the whole system below is pretty much up to Congress. I wonder what sort of action it would take to trigger the ‘good behavior’ clause?

Section 2, paragraph 1:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;– [between a State and Citizens of another State]1;–between Citizens of different States;–between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

1- Changed by the 11th Amendment.

Looks like there are very few situations were the courts don’t explicitly have rights in ruling on.

Section 2, paragraphs 2-3:

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.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Issues with high ranking officials go directly to the Supreme Court, but for most cases the only get there after going through the lower courts first. Interesting that only impeachment is specifically excluded from trial by jury. I thought that list might have been longer.

Section 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Treason, I still think of Benedict Arnold every time I hear the word. Probably one of the few things I remember from 6th grade U.S. History :-)

Using the word treason carries with it some strong baggage. It cuts to the soul of a person, that you’ve betrayed something so important, so well recognized that it casts an instant shame. I hope that those who choose to use this term against another do so recognizing the full weight and responsibility such a charge carries. Abuse of this term needs to carry it’s own allotment of shame and disgrace.

Other Constitution posts.