The 225th Anniversary of the Judiciary Act, and how federal courts continue to affect average Americans today, will be a key theme in the U.S. courts' public education efforts for 2014.
The federal courts have partnered with nonprofit civics organizations and created new educational content on the U.S. Courts website, to spell out the unique role of the federal courts. Similar themes will be emphasized at naturalization ceremonies planned for Constitution Day, Sept. 17. And federal judges can use educational material on the anniversary for schools and other public speaking engagements throughout the year.
The Judiciary Act was enacted Sept. 24, 1789, during the first session of Congress. President George Washington made his first judicial nomination that same day, and within days the first federal judges were being confirmed.
The Judiciary Act established one federal court system across the entire nation. In the world’s first dual-court system, the new federal courts handled interstate and international cases, disputes regarding the U.S. Constitution, and civil and criminal cases arising under federal laws. State courts continued to oversee cases involving state laws and civil disputes within states.
As a new online quiz at the U.S. Courts web site makes clear, federal courts affect many daily activities of law-abiding citizens, from reading a morning news story to drinking a glass of water. The site’s Educational Resources section also has a fact sheet on the Judiciary Act of 1789, and numerous other classroom resources about the federal courts.
The outreach to classrooms has been assisted by a partnership with Consource, a free online library of Constitutional history and a member of the 26-organization Civics Renewal Network. Consource has posted online lesson plans about the federal judiciary for varying grade levels.