Congressional Authority Over the Federal Courts
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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This report examines Congress legislative authority with respect to the Judicial Branch. While Congress has broad power to regulate the structure, administration and jurisdiction of the courts, its powers are limited by precepts of due process, equal protection and separation of powers. Usually congressional regulation of the judicial branch is noncontroversial, but when Congress proposes to use its powers in a manner designed to affect the outcome of pending or previously decided cases, constitutional issues can be raised. For instance, Congress has in recent years considered using or has exercised its authority in an attempt to affect the results in cases concerning a number of issues, including abortion, gay marriage, freedom of religion, right to die and prisoners rights. This report addresses the constitutional foundation of the federal courts, and the explicit and general authorities of Congress to regulate the courts. It then addresses Congress ability to limit the jurisdiction of the courts over particular constitutional issues, sometime referred to as court-stripping. The report then analyzes Congress authority to limit the availability of certain judicial processes and remedies for constitutional litigants. Congressional power to legislate regarding specific judicial decisions is also discussed. Much of the material in the section on congressional power over court jurisdiction is also included in CRS Report RL32171, Limiting Court Jurisdiction Over Federal Constitutional Issues Court-Stripping, Kenneth R. Thomas.
- Government and Political Science
- Sociology and Law