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Judges and the Judiciary: Exploring America's Court System

Formerly known as Congress and the Courts

A fully revamped collection compiling comprehensive resources that analyze how the complex web of judiciary structures, composition, oversight, procedures, and actions within America's court system touch the lives of everyday Americans.







About Judges and the Judiciary: Exploring America's Court System

Now subject-coded and updated with expanded coverage!

HeinOnline is proud to introduce our newly revamped and enhanced Judges and the Judiciary: Exploring America’s Court System database. Formerly known as Congress and the Courts, this collection was originally built around Bernard D. Reams, Jr., et al.’s Congress and the Courts: A Legislative History, 1787-2018, which collected congressional documents related to the composition and structure of Article III Courts. While this important work is still prominently featured in the database, it is now supported and supplemented with content that dives into more complex philosophical issues concerning the judiciary, including the removal of judges and judicial ethics, especially in the wake of recent reports that highlighted lavish gifts bestowed upon Supreme Court justices.

What's New
An Essential Resource

Comprehensive Coverage: This database is a one-stop resource for government documents, scholarly articles, books, and more exploring all aspects of America’s judiciary systems, with content updated regularly for the most up-to-date coverage.

Federal and State Content: Learn about the structure, creation, actions, and oversight of courts at both the state and federal levels.

Subject-Coding: To help guide users in their research, all titles within this database have been subject-coded, including 14 brand-new subjects.

Historical Context: Users can navigate through nearly 40 legislative histories and hundreds of Congressional Research Service (CRS) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports, hearings, and federal rules, providing essential historical context to understand the evolution of the American court system.

Federal Judicial Center Archive: Access the complete archive of publications from the Federal Judicial Center, which is the primary education and research agency for the federal courts. This inclusion provides nearly 700 publications consisting of valuable educational and research materials related to the federal judiciary.

Rich Diversity of Content: Round out your research with thousands of handpicked, highly cited scholarly articles that cover topics ranging from court jurisdiction to judicial power, ideologies, and the makeup of the judiciary. Want to take your research further? We’ve also compiled more than 1,000 related works to explore.

Title List: KBART (TXT) | CSV | HTML

Featured Content

Content will continue to be added regularly!

Subject-Coded Content for Simplified Searching

To help users target their research, HeinOnline editors have created 14 new subjects based on the subject matter of the titles in the collection. Explore these new subjects relating to America’s court system and their scope below:

Appellate courts, or a court of second instance, is any court that hears appeals from trial courts. It reviews the case and decides whether it agrees with the lower court’s decision. 

This subject explores issues such as judicial term limits, mandatory retirement, revisions to procedure, and other changes to courts’ daily business.

Step into the witness stand and go inside real cases.

This subject explores technology in the courtroom and the ethics, changes, and challenges it brings, from televising trials to defendants appearing over Zoom.

District courts, also known as trial courts, fall at the bottom of the judicial hierarchy. They resolve a variety of disputes and render decisions.

This subject explores the minutia of keeping courts running, from staffing, clerks, paperwork, and the processes that aid in dispensing justice.

This subject covers judicial benefits, such as healthcare, salary, pensions, and more.

This subject covers processes in place (or not in place) to ensure judicial impartialness and that trials are conducted fairly.

This subject covers judicial appointments, elections, and the creation of additional judgeships.

This subject specifically deals with juvenile justice and family court matters.

The various federal rules govern proceedings in courts, such as the admissibility of evidence. Learn about the ins and out of court proceeding.

While much of the content in this database covers the federal court system, users can easily access content on state-specific courts with this subject.

As intermediate appeals courts, the U.S. Courts of Appeals hears appeals from U.S. district courts. Learn about their work and functions.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the country. Use this subject to learn about the Court’s mighty power.

Understanding the U.S. Court System

The judicial branch of the federal government is responsible for determining the constitutionality of federal laws and resolving disputes about federal laws. Their rulings are enforced (or not enforced) by the executive branch. There are two courts systems in the United States—the federal court system and the state court system, which includes your municipal and local courts. There are three primary types of federal courts:

  • 94 district courts or trial courts, which are organized based on state boundaries, although states with large populations may be covered by more than one district. Cases held in these courts include a judge and jury.
  • 13 appellate courts, which are organized into 12 larger circuits and regions and hear challenges to district court decisions to determine if the original trial was fair and correctly decided. These courts must hear all cases submitted to them.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court, which is at the top of the judicial food chain and usually hears cases that have proceeded through district and appellate courts. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction for cases that involve two or more states, and it picks and chooses the cases it hears.


While the federal court system often receives the lion’s share of legal glory, state courts play an equally important role on a smaller scale. State courts can hear drunk driving cases, murder trials, and handle divorces, adoptions, personal injury, and probate. States establish their own court systems, and these courts are the final arbiter of state laws and state constitutions. When a state court interprets federal law or the Constitution, these cases can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

About HeinOnline's History of Supreme Court Nominations

Within Judges and the Judiciary: Exploring America’s Court System, researchers will find a direct link to HeinOnline’s History of Supreme Court Nominations* database. This is because one of Congress’s major responsibilities is to confirm judges, and there is no bigger American judicial stage than the U.S. Supreme Court. You can learn all about the successful and unsuccessful nominations to the nation’s highest court with this collection of more than 200,000 pages featuring the complete series of Supreme Court of the U.S. Hearings and Reports on Successful and Unsuccessful Nominations of Supreme Court Justices by the Senate Judiciary Committee by Roy M. Mersky and J. Myron Jacobstein. The collection also includes more than 400 titles containing relevant government documents, scholarly articles, and bibliographies applicable to each Supreme Court Justice.

Easily skip into this collection from the dedicated tab in Judges and the Judiciary. All done checking out History of Supreme Court Nominations? Hop right back into Judges and the Judiciary from its own tab linking back.

*Separate subscription required.

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