United States Constitution

PREAMBLE : We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution



Article III, Section II

Text of Article 3, Section 2:
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, 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 the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;– between a State and Citizens of another State,–between Citizens of different States,–between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

The 'Travis Translation' of Article 3, Section 2:
The judges of the courts have the power to decide any case that involves or questions: the Constitution, laws of the United States, or a treaty signed by the United States. Courts will also decide any case that involves Ambassadors or foreign ministers from other countries. They have the final say on cases that happen on the oceans. They decide: arguments when the United States is involved, cases between two or more states, cases between a state and somebody from another country, cases between citizens of different states, cases between citizens of the same state when different states give them the same land, and to all cases between a state, the citizens in that state, and other countries and their citizens. [This was changed by the 11th Amendment.]

If an Ambassador or Minister from another country, or if a state is involved, the Supreme Court can hear the case first. In all the other cases, the smaller courts will hear the cases first, and the loser can appeal their case. The Supreme Court is the final authority. The Supreme Court can look at both the law and the facts of each case, with the rules Congress has passed.

Trial for all federal crimes, except kicking people out of government (impeaching them), will be in front of a jury. The trial will be held in the same state where the crime was committed. If the crime was not committed in a State, Congress can decide by law where to hold the trial.

This section of the Constitution contains, essentially, the job description of the judicial branch (see also Judicial Review), what it can rule on and what it can’t rule on. It describes the extent of the power, or jurisdiction, of both the Supreme Court and any other federal courts beneath the Supreme Court. It is also used to delineate the limits of that power, including Congress’ ability to limit certain judicial power by legislation (also known as the Exceptions Clause) and other limits implied by the text of the Constitution. There have also been further limits placed on the power of the federal courts by the 11th Amendment.

The section also includes a short provision guaranteeing jury trials in criminal proceedings, a right which was also supplemented by the 6th Amendment.