Congressional Authority Over the Federal Courts [May 16, 2005]   [open pdf - 162KB]

"This report examines Congress' legislative authority with respect to the Judicial Branch. While Congress has broad power to regulate the structure, administration and jurisdiction of the courts, its powers are limited by precepts of due process, equal protection and separation of powers. Usually congressional oversight of the judicial branch is noncontroversial, but when Congress proposes to use its oversight and regulatory powers in a manner designed to affect the outcome of pending or previously decided cases, constitutional issues can be raised. In recent years, Congress has considered using or has exercised its authority in an effort to affect the results in cases concerning a number of issues, including abortion, gay marriage, freedom of religion, 'right to die' and prisoners' rights. This report addresses the constitutional foundation of the federal courts, and the explicit and general authorities of Congress to regulate the courts. It then addresses Congress' ability to limit the jurisdiction of the courts over particular issues, sometimes referred to as 'court-stripping.' The report then analyzes Congress' authority to regulate the availability of certain judicial processes and remedies for litigants. Congressional power to legislate regarding specific judicial decisions is also discussed."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32926
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