This course examines the function of the courts in the United States as legal and governmental institutions, focusing primarily but not exclusively on the federal judiciary. It begins with the historical development of the trial courts and the adversarial system, and then considers the organization and function of the federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court of the United States. It concludes with an examination of legal reasoning, including the significance of legal sources, the doctrine of precedent, analogical reasoning, and the method and purpose of judicial decision-making. Some of the questions addressed during the course include: Are trials a search for truth? Should courts be concerned primarily with resolving legal disputes or creating legal rules? Are federal judges insulated from political motivations and influences? Is the Supreme Court a legal institution or a political institution?Why do judges follow precedent? What is the relationship between judges and justice? (Not offered 2017-18).
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