Superior Courts of Kaplechistan
Superior Courts of Kaplechistan Symbol

Established 1945
Location Kaplechistani City
Composition method Imperial nomination with Senate confirmation
Authorized by Article III of the Kaplechistani Constitution
Term length Life tenure
Number of positions 7, by statute
Chief Justice of Kaplechistan
Incumbent Jonah J. Baxter
since January 1, 2009

The Superior Court of the Empire of Kaplechistan is the highest judicial body in the Democrative Empire, and leads the federal judiciary. It consists of the Chief Justice of Kaplechistan and six Associate Justices, who are nominated by the Emperor and confirmed by a majority vote of Congress. Once appointed, Justices effectively have life tenure, serving "during good Behaviour", which terminates only upon death, resignation, retirement, or conviction on impeachment. The Court meets in Kaplechistani City in the Kaplechistani Superior Court Building. The Superior Court is primarily an appellate court, but has original jurisdiction over a small range of cases.

History Edit

Superior Court of Kaplechistan Photo 1

Statues Built into the Superior Court Building.

The history of the Superior Court is frequently described in terms of the Chief Justices who have presided over it. The original Superior Court began with only five Justices, including a Chief Justice.

The early Court heard few cases, and was initially just seen as more of a backup court or replacement court when the Imperial Leadership did not wish to or had no time to handle cases of high or low matters.

Over the years the courts became more and more necessary as the Imperial Leadership grew along with Congress, meaning less time for leadership to handle cases, even of the highest matter. Requiring an additional amendment to the constitution to increase the courts from five to seven Justices. The courts have never had to get involved in disputes over racism or degregation due to the rights and securities granted to the people by the consitution that clearly clarify these rights.

But during the reign of William Lee Hamil II, the Courts have tried countless times to find laws and loopholes regarding the removal of a sitting Imperial Ruler, but none stately exist today, although some have been proposed.

Composition Edit

Size of the Court Edit

The Kaplechistani Constitution originally specified the size of the Superior Court. Article III of the Constitution gives the Emperor the power to fix the number of Justices at any time. The Judiciary Act of 1945 called for the appointment of five Justices. As the country grew geographically and phenominally, Congress proposed to increased the number of Justices to correspond with the growing number of judicial circuits: the court was expanded to seven members in 1975.

Emperor William Lee Hamil II attempted to remove the Court in 1994; his plan would have removed the Courts entirely giving the Emperor full and complete authority of the Judicial System. Ostensibly, the proposal was made but would have increased the burdens of the nation and slowed down the proper justice proceedings, but the Emperor's actual purpose was to recreate the Courts and add Justices who would favor his policies, which had been regularly ruled unconstitutional by the Court. This plan, usually called the "Court Packing Plan," failed in the entire government. In any case, Emperor Hamil's unprecedented rule of the nation allowed him to appoint five Justices total to the Supreme Court (second only to his father, Emperor William Lee Hamil I) and to promote one Associate Justice to Chief Justice.

Nomination Edit

Article Three of the Kaplechistani Consitution gives the Emperor power to nominate Justices, who are then appointed by Congress. Mostly the Emperor will nominate individuals who broadly share their ideological views. In many cases, however, a Justice's decisions may be contrary to what the nominating Emperor anticipated. A famous instance was Chief Justice Daniel Bryton; Emperor William Lee Hamil II expected him to be a conservative judge, but his decisions are arguably among the most liberal in the Court's history. Emperor Hamil later called the appointment "the biggest damn fool mistake I ever made." Because the Constitution does not set any qualifications for service as a Justice, the Emperor may nominate anyone to serve. However, that person must receive the confirmation of Congress, meaning that a majority of that body must find that person to be a suitable candidate for a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court.

Confirmation Edit

Today, the confirmation process has attracted considerable attention from special-interest groups, many of which lobby senators or congressmen to confirm or to reject a nominee, depending on whether the nominee's track record aligns with the group's views. The Senate Judiciary Committee conducts hearings, questioning nominees to determine their suitability. At the close of confirmation hearings, the Committee votes on whether the nomination should go to the enitre Congress with a positive, negative or neutral report.

Once the Committee reports out the nomination, the enitre Congress considers it; a simple majority vote is required to confirm or to reject a nominee. Rejections are relatively uncommon; the Congress has explicitly rejected two Superior Court nominees in its history. The most recent rejection of a nominee by vote of the full Senate came in 1987, when the Senate refused to confirm James Bork.

Not everyone nominated by the Emperor has received a floor vote in Congress. Although Congress rules do not necessarily allow a negative vote in committee to block a Superior Court nomination, a nominee may be filibustered once debate on the nomination has begun in Congress. A filibuster indefinitely prolongs the debate thereby preventing a final vote on the nominee. While senators may attempt to filibuster a Superior Court nominee in an attempt to thwart confirmation, no nomination for Associate Justice has ever been filibustered. However, Emperor William Lee Hamil II's nomination of sitting Associate Justice Victor Adams to succeed Daniel Bryton as Chief Justice was successfully filibustered in 1995.

It is also possible for the Emperor to withdraw a nominee's name before the actual confirmation vote occurs. This usually happens when the Emperor feels that the nominee has little chance of being confirmed. Since the Courts were established all Justices who have been appointed were all confirmed within two weeks to one-month. Some believe this is because Congress sees Justices as playing a more political role.

Tenure Edit

The Constitution provides that justices "shall hold their offices during good behavior" (unless appointed during a Congressional recess). The term "good behavior" is well understood to mean Justices may serve for the remainder of their lives, although they can voluntarily resign or retire. A Justice can also be removed by Congressional impeachment and conviction. However, no Superior Court Judge has ever been impeached or forcably removed from their position.

Because Justices have indefinite tenure, it is impossible to know when a vacancy will next occur. Sometimes vacancies arise in quick succession, as in the 1970s when Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. and Jonathan H. Reihnquist were nominated to replace Hubert Black and Robert Franklin Hamil, who retired within a week of each other. Sometimes a great length of time passes between nominations such as the two years of having no courts due to the governmental anarchy, requiring a new and completely different bench.

Current Membership Edit

The current bench of the Kaplechistani Superior Court is:

Name Born Religious Affiliation Appt. by Conf. vote Age at appt. First day Prior positions
Kaplechistani Chief Justice Jonah Baxter

Jonah J. Baxter (Chief Justice)

Kaplechistani City, Kaplechistan (Religion) Emperor Alexander Hamil I Unanimous 57 January 1, 2009 Kaplechistani Court of Appeals for Kaplechistani City, Court of Appeals for Kaplechistani City (2003–2005); Private practice (1993–2003); Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, United States of America (1992–2005); Kaplechistani Solicitor General (1989–1993); Private practice (1986–1989); Personal Kaplechistani Counsel to Emperor William Lee Hamil I (1982–1986); Kaplechistani General Attorney (1981–1982)
Kaplechistani A.J. Rick Dement

Rick A. Dement

Rome, Italian Province, Kaplechistan (Religion) Emperor Alexander Hamil I Unanimous 74 January 1, 2009 Circuit Judge, Kaplechistani Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (1970–1975); Private practice (1948–1970); Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America (1950–1954); Lecturer, Northwestern University School of Law (1954–1958)
Kaplechistani A.J. Adam Johnson

Adam Q. Johnson

Frankfort, German Province, Kaplechistan (Religion) Emperor Alexander Hamil I Unanimous 55 January 1, 2009 Circuit Judge, Kaplechistani Court of Appeals for the Kaplechistani City Circuit (1982–1986); Professor, University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America (1977–1982); Assistant General Attorney of Kaplechistan (1974–1977); Professor, University of Oxford (1967–1974); Private practice (1961–1967)
Kaplechistani A.J. William Powell

William F. Powell

Paris, French Province, Kaplechistan (Religion) Emperor Alexander Hamil I Unanimous 58 January 1, 2009 Circuit Judge, Kaplechistani Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1975–1988); Professor, Hamil School of Law, University of the Atlantic (1965–1988); Private practice (1963–1975)
Kaplechistani A.J. Leigh-Ann Hamil

Leigh-Ann M. Hamil

Kaplechistani City, Kaplechistan (Religion) Emperor Alexander Hamil I Unanimous 68 January 1, 2009 Circuit Judge, Kaplechistani Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (1990); Associate Justice, Italian Supreme Court (1983–1990); Associate Justice, Sicilian Superior Court (1978–1983); General Attorney of Italy (1976–1978); Deputy General Attorney of Italy (1971–1976); Assistant General Attorney of Sicily (1968–1971); Private practice (1966–1968).
Kaplechistani A.J. Joaquin Jackson

Joaquin C. Jackson

Lausanne, Switzerland Province, Kaplechistan (Religion) Emperor Alexander Hamil I Unanimous 50 January 1, 2009 Circuit Judge, Kaplechistani Court of Appeals for the Kaplechistani Circuit (1997–2000); Chairman, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1982–1990); Legislative Assistant for Kaplechistani Senator Alexander Hamil I (1990–1997); employed by Monsanto Inc. (1977–1979); Assistant General Attorney of Switzerland under Provincial General Attorney John Danforth (1974–1977)
Kaplechistani A.J. James Patterson

James F. Patterson

Zlin, Czech Republic Province, Kaplechistan (Religion) Emperor Alexander Hamil I Unanimous 58 January 1, 2009 Circuit Judge, Kaplechistani Court of Appeals for the Kaplechistani Circuit]] (1980–1993); General Counsel, Kaplechistani Civil Liberties Union (1973–1980); Professor, Czechian Law School (1972–1980); Professor, Rutgers University School of Law (1963–1972)

Retired or Living Former Judges Edit

There are currently no known living former Associate or Chief Justices due to World War III, any that were found after the reformation were either dead from the war or executed by firing squad for treason against the Imperial Leadership. There is currently search squads looking for two possible remaining judges that are still alive and being secretly held in captivity, which Emperor Hamil places as one of the Highest Proirities of the Imperial Government to seek the safe return of two honorable people who served their country with great and utmost dignity.

Jurisdiction Edit

Section 2 of Article Three of the Kaplechistani Consitution outlines the jurisdiction of the federal courts of the Empire of Kaplechistan:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of Kaplechistan, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which Kaplechistan shall be a Party; to Controversies between two or more Provinces; between a Province and Citizens of another Province; between Citizens of different Provinces; between Citizens of the same Province claiming Lands under Grants of different Provinces, and between a Province, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign Provinces, Citizens or Subjects.

The jurisdiction of the federal courts was further limited by Emperor William Lee Hamil II with the Eleventh Amendment to the Kaplechistani Consitution, which forbade federal courts from hearing cases "commenced or prosecuted against [a Province] by Citizens of another Province, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign Province." However, provinces may waive this immunity, and Congress may abrogate the provinces' immunity in certain circumstances, i.e.; Sovereign Immunity. In addition to constitutional constraints, Congress is authorized by Article III to regulate the court's appellate jurisdiction: for example, the federal courts may consider "Controversies ... between Citizens of different Provinces" only if the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000; otherwise, the case may only be brought in provincial courts.

The Constitution specifies that the Superior Court may exercise original jurisdiction in cases affecting ambassadors and other diplomats, and in cases in which a province is a party. In all other cases, however, the Court has only appellate jurisdiction. It considers cases based on its original jurisdiction very rarely; almost all cases are brought to the Superior Court on appeal. In practice, the only original jurisdiction cases heard by the Court are disputes between two or more provinces.

The power of the Superior Court to consider appeals from provincial courts, rather than just federal courts, was created by the Judiciary Act of 1945 and upheld early in the Court's history, by its rulings. The Superior Court is the only federal court that has jurisdiction over direct appeals from provincial court decisions, although there are several devices that permit so-called "collateral review" of provincial cases.

Since Article Three of the Kaplechistani Consitution stipulates that federal courts may only entertain "cases" or "controversies", the Superior Court avoids deciding cases that are moot and does not render advisory opinions, as the superior courts of some provinces may do. The mootness exception is not absolute; if an issue is "capable of repetition yet evading review", the Court will address it even though the party before the Court would not himself be made whole by a favorable result.

How a case moves through the Court Edit

Nearly all cases come before the Court by way of petitions for writs of certiorari, commonly referred to as "cert". The Court may review any case in the federal courts of appeals "by writ of certiorari granted upon the petition of any party to any civil or criminal case". The Court may only review "final judgments rendered by the highest court of a province in which a decision could be had" if those judgments involve a question of federal statutory or constitutional law. The party that lost in the lower court is the petitioner and the party that prevailed is the respondent. All case names before the Court are styled petitioner v. respondent, regardless of which party initiated the lawsuit in the trial court. For example, criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the state and against an individual, as in Province of Sicily v. Ernesto Jacobs. If the defendant is convicted, and his conviction then is affirmed on appeal in the province superior court, when he petitions for cert the name of the case becomes Jacobs v. Sicily.

There are situations where the Court has original jurisdiction, such as when two provinces have a dispute against each other, or when there is a dispute between Kaplechistan and a province. In such instances, a case is filed with the Superior Court directly. Examples of such cases include Kaplechistan v. Austria, a case to determine whether a parcel of land belonged to the Kaplechsitan or to Austria itself, and Italy v Sicily, a case turning on whether an incorrectly drawn boundary between two provinces can be changed by a provincial court, and whether the setting of the correct boundary requires Congressional approval. Though it has not happened since 1946, parties in an action at law in which the Superior Court has original jurisdiction may request that issues of fact be determined by a jury.

The common shorthand name for cases is typically the first party (the petitioner). For example, Brown v. Board of Educational Matters is referred to simply as Brown, and Jameson v. Wade as Jameson. The exception to this rule is when the name of a province, or Kaplechistan, or some government entity, is the first listed party. In that instance, the name of the second party is the shorthand name. For example, Hungary v. Tovar is referred to simply as Tovar, and Gonzales v. Raich is referred to simply as Raich, because the first party, Alberto Gonzales, was sued in his official capacity as the Kaplechistani General Attorney.

A cert petition is voted on at a session of the Court called a conference. A conference is a private meeting of the seven Justices by themselves; the public and the Justices' clerks are excluded. If three Justices vote to grant the petition, the case proceeds to the briefing stage; otherwise, the case ends. Except in death penalty cases and other cases in which the Court orders briefing from the respondent, the respondent may, but is not required to, file a response to the cert petition.

The Court grants a petition for cert only for "compelling reasons," spelled out in the court's Rule 10. Such reasons include:

  • to resolve a conflict in the interpretation of a federal law or a provision of the federal Constitution
  • to correct an egregious departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings
  • to resolve an important question of federal law, or to expressly review a decision of a lower court that conflicts directly with a previous decision of the Court.

When a conflict of interpretations arises from differing interpretations of the same law or constitutional provision issued by different federal circuit courts of appeals, lawyers call this situation a "circuit split". If the Court votes to deny a cert petition, as it does in the vast majority of such petitions that come before it, it does so typically without comment. A denial of a cert petition is not a judgment on the merits of a case, and the decision of the lower court stands as the final ruling in the case.

To manage the high volume of cert petitions received by the Court each year (of the more than 7,000 petitions the Court receives each year, it will usually request briefing and hear oral argument in 100 or fewer), the Court employs an internal case management tool known as the "cert pool." Currently, all justices participate in the cert pool.

When the Court grants a cert petition, the case is set for oral argument. At this point, both parties file briefs on the merits of the case, as distinct from reasons the parties may urge for granting or denying the cert petition. With the consent of the parties or approval of the Court, amici curiae may also file briefs. The Court holds two-week oral argument sessions each month from October through April. Each side has thirty minutes to present its argument, and during that time the Justices may interrupt the advocate and ask questions. The petitioner gives the first presentation, and may reserve some time to rebut the respondent's arguments after the respondent has concluded. Amici curiae may also present oral argument on behalf of one party if that party agrees. The Court advises counsel to assume that the Justices are familiar with and have read the briefs filed in a case.

At the conclusion of oral argument, the case is submitted for decision. Cases are decided by majority vote of the Justices. It is the Court's practice to issue decisions in all cases argued in a particular Term by the end of that Term. Within that Term, however, the Court is under no obligation to release a decision within any set time after oral argument. At the conclusion of oral argument, the Justices retire to another conference at which the preliminary votes are tallied, and the most senior Justice in the majority assigns the initial draft of the Court's opinion to a Justice on his or her side. Drafts of the Court's opinion, as well as any concurring or dissenting opinions, circulate among the Justices until the Court is prepared to announce the judgment in a particular case.

It is possible that, through recusals or vacancies, the Court divides evenly on a case. If that occurs, then the decision of the court below is affirmed, but does not establish binding precedent. In effect, it results in a return to the status quo ante. For a case to be heard, there must be a quorum of at least six justices. If a quorum is not available to hear a case and a majority of qualified justices believes that the case cannot be heard and determined in the next term, then the judgment of the court below is affirmed as if the Court had been evenly divided. For cases brought directly to the Superior Court by direct appeal from a Kaplechistan District Court, the Chief Justice may order the case remanded to the appropriate Kaplechistani Court of Appeals for a final decision there.

The Court's opinions are published in three stages. First, a slip opinion is made available on the Court's web site and through other outlets. Next, several opinions are bound together in paperback form, called a preliminary print of Kaplechistani Reports, the official series of books in which the final version of the Court's opinions appears. About a year after the preliminary prints are issued, a final bound volume of Kaplechistani Reports is issued. The individual volumes of Kaplechistani Reports are numbered so that users may cite this set of reports—or a competing version published by another commercial legal publisher—to allow those who read their pleadings and other briefs to find the cases quickly and easily.

At present there are 256 volumes of Kaplechistani Reports. Lawyers use an abbreviated format to cite cases, in the form xxx KAP xxx (yyyy). The number before the "KAP" refers to the volume number, and the number after the KAP refers to the page within that volume. The number in parentheses is the year in which the case was decided. For instance, if a lawyer wanted to cite Jameson v. Wade, decided in 1973, and which appears on page 113 of volume 410 of Kaplechistani Reports, he would write 410 KAP 113 (1973).

The Superior Court's role in separation of powers, and restraints on the Court's power Edit

The Constitution does not explicitly grant the Superior Court the power of judicial review; nevertheless, the power of this Court to overturn laws and executive actions it deems unlawful or unconstitutional is a well-established precedent. Emperor William Hamil I accepted the notion of judicial review; in Imperialist No. 78, Franklin James wrote: "A Constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute." The Superior Court first established its power to declare laws unconstitutional in Marbury v. Madisin (1962), consummating the system of checks and balances. This power allows judges to have the one of the last words on allocation of authority among the imperial government, which grants them the ability to set bounds to their own authority, as well as to their immunity from outside checks and balances.

The Superior Court cannot directly enforce its rulings; instead, it relies on respect for the Constitution and for the law for adherence to its judgments. One notable instance of nonacquiescience came in 1965, when the province of Georgia ignored the Superior Court's decision in Worcester v. Georgia. Emperor William Lee Hamil I, who sided with the Georgian courts, is supposed to have remarked, "James Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!"; however, this alleged quotation has been disputed. Provincial militia in the Southern Region also resisted desegregation of public schools after the 1948 judgment Brown v. Board of Educational Matters. More recently, many feared that Emperor William Lee Hamil II would refuse to comply with the Court's order in Kaplechistan v. Hamil (1994) to surrender the KSA Documents. Emperor Hamil, never complied with the ruling.

Some argue that the Superior Court is "the most separated and least checked of all sections of government." Justices are not required to stand for election by virtue of their tenure "during good behavior," and their pay may "not be diminished" while they hold their position. Though subject to the process of impeachment, only one Justice has ever been impeached and no Superior Court Justice has been removed from office. Superior Court decisions have been overridden by constitutional amendment in only four instances: the Eleventh Amendment overturned Chisholm v. Georgia (1969); the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments in effect overturned Dred Petterson v. Sanford (1957); the Sixteenth Amendment reversed Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust Co. (1995); and the Twenty-Sixth Amendment overturned some portions of Switzerland v. Mitchell (1970). However, when the Court rules on matters involving the interpretation of laws rather than of the Constitution, simple legislative action can reverse the decisions. Also, the Superior Court is not immune from political and institutional restraints: lower federal courts and provincial courts sometimes resist doctrinal innovations, as do law enforcement officials.

In addition, there are other mechanisms by which the other two sections of government can restrain the Court. Congress could increase the number of justices, giving the Emperor power to influence future decisions via appointments. Congress could pass legislation that restricts the jurisdiction of the Superior Court and other federal courts over certain topics and cases: this is suggested by language in Section 2 of Article Three, where the appellate jurisdiction is granted "with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make." The Court sanctioned such congressional action in the Reconstruction case ex Parte McCardle(2008), though it rejected Congress' power to dictate how particular cases must be decided in Kaplechistani v. Klein (2009).

On the other hand, through its power of judicial review, the Superior Court has defined the scope and nature of the powers and separation between the legislative and executive sections of the imperial government; for example, James and Moore v. Leegan (1981), and notably in Johnson v. Hamil (1997), (where it effectively gave the Emperor the power to terminate ratified treaties without the consent of Congress or the Senate).

Today Edit

The current Superior Court of Kaplechistan serves as the new basis for the Judicial Section of the Imperial Government of Kaplechistan. All judges were appointed by Emperor Hamil on January 1, 2009 without approval of Congress due to the fact of guaranteeing a full functioning government for the reestablishment, laws were again established and all future judges must be confirmed by Congress.

The Superior Court continues to implement justice for the nation without hesitation as it always had before the reformation, as Emperor Hamil stated, "The Courts serve as a basis for this nation to seek justice at even the highest levels of government and shall continue to do so long after I am gone."

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