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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

About the Federal Court System

The Federal Court System

There are many different court systems and types of courts in this country. Article III of the U.S. Constitution establishes a federal court system as one of the three separate and distinct branches of the federal government.

Although many states and localities have their own court systems, Leadership Conference/Education Fund activities are focused on the federal court system because federal civil rights laws are mostly enforced in federal courts. In addition, civil rights laws are enforced in civil courts rather than criminal courts.

Types of Courts in the Federal System

Within the federal court system there are four main types of courts: the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, District Courts, and Bankruptcy Courts. Cases are generally heard first in the District Courts (trial courts), and if either party disagrees with the decision, can be appealed to a higher court (appellate courts) for further review. The Bankruptcy Courts have a special function: they only hear bankruptcy cases.

Leadership Conference/Education Fund activities are focused on the federal appellate courts (Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals), because the outcome of appeals cases have the potential to affect large numbers of people.

More on How the Federal Court System Works

These resources are from USCourts.gov.

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