Which Courts Make up the National Judicial Branch?

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The courts that make up the national federal court system includes the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. district courts, the U.S. courts of appeals, the U.S. bankruptcy courts and the U.S. courts of special jurisdiction. The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the country.

The U.S. courts of special jurisdiction include several special courts that have specific purposes. These include the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the U.S. Court of International Trade, the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The U.S. bankruptcy courts are units of the district courts and facilitate bankruptcy cases for individuals, businesses and organizations.

The U.S. district courts are the federal court system's trial courts. These courts hear all kinds of federal cases, including criminal cases. There are 94 federal judicial districts spread among 12 regional circuits. Each state has at least one district court. The U.S. Court of Appeals takes appeals from the U.S. district courts. The U.S. Supreme Court takes only a very few special cases a year, primarily dealing with cases that test constitutionality. The Supreme Court bench consists of a chief justice and eight other associate justices, appointed by the president. Justices serve for life or until they choose to step down.