Jurisdiction, or the authority to hear certain types of cases. Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction



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Federal Court Jurisdiction: Types of Cases
The judicial branch is made up of state courts and federal courts. These courts are only allowed to hear certain kinds of court cases. This is called jurisdiction, or the authority to hear certain types of cases. Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over eight types of cases, meaning only the federal courts can hear these types of cases.

Constitution Cases: If a law might contradict the Constitution then the case has to go to federal court.

Violation of Federal Law: If a person breaks a federal law the case has to go to federal court. If a case deals with a Constitutional power, such as bankruptcy, then it also has to go to federal court. Examples of federal crimes are kidnapping, tax evasion, counterfeiting money.

Controversies between States: If two states disagree it goes to federal court.

Disputes between Parties from Different States: If two people or two companies in different states decide to sue each other it goes to federal court.

Lawsuits Involving the Federal Government: If someone sues the federal government, or the federal government sues an individual or a company, the case has to go to federal court.

Foreign Government and Treaty Cases: Any dispute involving a foreign country has to go to federal court.

Cases Based On Maritime Law: Any case dealing with a crime committed on the high seas (or the oceans) has to go to a federal court.

US Diplomat Cases: If a U.S. diplomat living in another country breaks a U.S. law then it has to go to federal court.

Directions: All of the following court cases will go to federal court. Write the number of the court case listed in the appropriate box. Use pages 194-195 in your book for extra help.


  1. A student believes her freedom of speech and right to due process were violated when she was suspended for wearing a black armband to school.

  2. The U.S. ambassador in England decides not to pay his taxes in 2007.

  3. Ms. Fennimore is fed up with the costs of stamps and kicks her postman.

  4. Mr. Campbell is caught printing his own money with his face over George Washington’s picture.

  5. Well known explores Mark Carter and Sami Royce both claim that they found millions of dollars in treasure in a sunken ship off the Virginia coast.

  6. The Department of Defense sues a company that failed to deliver several Apache helicopters that it agreed to build for the army.

  7. Virginia and Maryland disagree over who has to clean up the Potomac River.

  8. Ms. Fennimore sues a man in Colorado for not sending her the Alvin and the Chipmunk glasses she bought on eBay.

  9. The Dominican Republic believes that U.S. companies are not following the terms in the CAFTA-DR trade agreement.

  10. A girl is kidnapped from her bedroom one night while everyone in her house slept.

  11. Washington state wants to sue Canada for building a factory near the U.S. border that is polluting the air and hurting the apple crop in Washington state.

  12. Linda Brown, an African-American student, sues her local school system because they violated her 14th Amendment rights by not allowing her to go to the school closest to her home because it was all-white.

  13. A resident of Maryland sues a resident of Sterling for damaging his car during a traffic accident.



Constitution Cases

Violations of Federal Law

Controversies Between States

Disputes between Parties of Different States













Cases Involving the Federal Government

Cases Involving Foreign Countries

Cases Based on Maritime Law

Cases Involving U.S. Diplomats














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