Article I Courts Defined and Explained
Learn more about courts created by the Congress under its power under Article I of the Constitution.5 min read
Article I Courts
These are courts created by Congress under its power under Article I of the Constitution and include:
There are federal courts located in the districts of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. In most instances, these courts function as U.S. district courts, yet they were created under Article I of the Constitution. These courts, called legislative courts to distinguish them from Constitutional courts, function similarly to state and local courts as well as performing their federal role. The legislative courts have jurisdiction over local cases and also those arising under federal law. These courts may also be given duties by Congress that are not strictly judicial in nature. Unlike the other federal courts, they were created by Congress under the article of the Constitution that grants Congress authority over the territories and other fields of federal power.
The judges of the legislative courts are appointed for a term of 10 years. They are not protected under the Constitution against salary reduction during their terms of office.
In addition to the territorial courts, Congress exercised its power under Article I of the Constitution to establish the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Tax Court.
U.S. Court of Military Appeals
The U.S. Court of Military Appeals was created by Congress in 1951. At that time, Congress also enacted the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which established a military judicial system. This system was designed to balance the need to maintain discipline in the armed forces and to give members of the military services who are accused of crimes rights paralleling those of accused persons in the civilian community.
The court's jurisdiction is worldwide but encompasses only questions of law arising from trials by court-martial in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard in cases where a death sentence is imposed, where a case is certified for review by the Judge Advocate General of the accused's service, or where the accused, who faces a severe sentence, petitions and shows good cause for further review. Such cases are subject to further review by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court may also review cases in which the court grants extraordinary relief. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review decisions of the military appellate courts in which the United States has taken an appeal from rulings by military judges during trials by court-martial. In the year ended September 30, 1992, 1,541 cases were filed in the U.S. Court of Military Appeals and 1,380 cases were terminated.
The five judges of the Court of Military Appeals are civilians appointed for 15-year terms by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The chief judge serves for five years and is succeeded by the next senior judge on the court. The court is located in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals
The U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals was created by Congress in 1988 to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over the decisions of the Board of Veterans' Appeals on the motion of claimants. Such cases include all types of veterans' and survivors' benefits, mainly disability benefits, and also loan eligibility and educational benefits. In the year ended June 30, 1992, the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals reviewed 1,931 cases and terminated 1,897. Its decisions are subject to limited review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
The court has seven judgeships. The judges of the court are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The court is based in Washington, D.C., but as a national court, it may sit anywhere in the United States.
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims, formerly the U.S. Claims Court, was established in 1982 as the successor to the trial division of the Court of Claims, which had been in existence since 1855. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has nationwide jurisdiction over a variety of cases, including tax refunds, federal taking of private property for public use, constitutional and statutory rights of military personnel and their dependents, back-pay demands from civil servants claiming unjust dismissal, persons injured by childhood vaccines, and federal government contractors suing for breach of contract. Most suits against the government for money damages in excess of $10,000 must be tried here. However, the district courts have exclusive jurisdiction over tort claims (a civil wrong or breach of duty) and concurrent jurisdiction over tax refunds.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims also hears appeals of decisions of the Indian Claims Commission and has jurisdiction to review certain cases involving federal government contractor disputes. Either house of Congress may refer to the chief judge a claim for which there is no legal remedy, seeking findings and a recommendation as to whether there is an equitable basis upon which Congress itself should compensate the claimant. Review of decisions in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims lies in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. During the year that ended September 30, 1992, 736 new cases were filed and 989 cases were terminated. On September 30, 1992, 718 cases were pending in the claims court.
The 16 judges of the U.S. Claims Court are appointed for terms of 15 years by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The court's headquarters are in Washington, D.C., but cases are heard at other locations convenient to the parties involved.
U.S. Tax Court
Established by Congress in 1924 under Article I of the Constitution, the U.S. Tax Court decides controversies between taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service involving underpayment of federal income, gift, and estate taxes. Its decisions may be appealed to the federal courts of appeals and are subject to the review of the U.S. Supreme Court on writs of certiorari. In the year that ended September 30, 1992, 30,345 new cases were filed and 34,823 were closed in the U.S. Tax Court. On September 30, 1992, 44,376 cases were pending.
The 19 tax court judges are appointed by the President for terms of 15 years.
The judges of the court elect one of their number to serve a two-year term as chief judge with responsibility for overall administration of the court in addition to a caseload. Retired judges may be recalled by the chief judge for service in the court. In addition, there are currently 17 authorized special trial judges appointed by the chief judge, who serve under rules and regulations promulgated by the court.
The Tax Court hears cases in approximately 80 cities. Its offices are located in Washington, D.C.