About the Federal Courts

The Federal Court system is comprised of the Supreme Court, created by Article III of the U.S. Constitution, and lesser courts created by Congress under its Article I Section 8 power. District courts function as trial courts. The federal system also has trial courts of special and exclusive jurisdiction that decide specific types of issues such as copyright or bankruptcy issues. Appeals from the district and special courts are taken to the court of appeals for the judicial circuit in which the district court sits. The court of appeals for the Western District of Washington is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Appeals from the circuit courts are taken to the Supreme Court (State court appeals can also be taken to the Supreme Court if the case involves a federal question such as a constitutional issue).

The original source of this content was the Legal Law Institute, Cornell University School of Law.

To learn more about the federal courts, see the Federal Judicial Center's Inside the Federal Courts.