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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

The Difference between Federal Courts and State/Local Courts

In addition to the federal court system, each state has its own court system. Some localities such as cities and counties have their own court systems as well. LCCR/EF focuses on federal courts because federal civil rights laws are mostly enforced in these courts.

Federal Courts State/Local Courts

Some Types of Cases Heard:

  • Cases concerning federal law (laws passed by Congress) and treaties
  • Cases that deal with the constitutionality of a law
  • Disputes between states
  • Bankruptcy cases, which are heard in a special court

Some Types of Cases Heard:

  • Cases concerning state laws (laws passed by state legislatures or other local bodies)
  • Most family law cases (divorce, custody), personal injury cases, and contract disputes. 
  • Most criminal cases.

Affect on federal civil rights law:

Rulings issued by federal courts are more authoritative interpretations of federal laws than state courts, and the Supreme Court has the final definitive say on issues regarding federal civil rights law.

Affect on federal civil rights law:

While state courts sometimes address federal laws, the federal courts' interpretations of federal law generally carries more persuasive weight.
 

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