Courts matter!: Here’s what voters need to know

The Courts Matter Coalition of Nebraska is dedicated to educating, informing – and if necessary, taking action on the nominees to our federal courts.

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When we think of our nation’s courts, we often think of Washington, D.C., where the most prominent issues in the country are raised. But the Supreme Court of the United States is just a small fraction of our federal court system. The cases heard by the Supreme Court make up less than 0.1 percent of the over 100,425,000 cases that are heard annually in America.
So what about the remaining 99.9 percent of court cases? They don’t make national headlines, but all of them are heard in lower federal courts and state court systems.
The federal court system has two tiers of courts before a case reaches the Supreme Court. First, the District Courts. Then, the Appellate Courts (or, Court of Appeals). These courts handle federal laws.
The state court system handles state laws and functions a bit differently. Cases start at trial courts, then move on to the appellate court system, and then finally to the State Supreme Court.
So there are a lot of key decisions made before a case might reach the Supreme Court – and voters play key roles in the outcomes of these decisions. Each court’s ruling sets precedents for the laws we uphold across the country, so it’s up to us as voters to ensure each court represents the core values of the community it serves.
But you might ask: Hey, if I’m not on jury duty, how does my vote matter? It’s your vote that ultimately decides who gets to make those rulings.
It starts at the very top: The president nominates most federal judges to be confirmed by the Senate. But with so many judges to nominate across the country, the president leans heavily on the recommendations of Senators presiding over the judge’s state or region.
And while there are a variety of ways to appoint a state judge, most of these methods involve either a popular vote or appointment by officials that we elect in our local races. Both federal and state judges are nominated for life as the final arbiters when it comes to the rights of all Americans. That’s why it’s crucial that we ensure the nominees are capable and trustworthy individuals committed to upholding the constitutional rights of ALL their fellow citizens.
That’s where the Courts Matter Coalition of Nebraska comes in. This collection of diverse organizations is dedicated to educating, informing, and if necessary, taking action on the nominees to our federal courts.
Now more than ever, every Nebraskan’s vote matters in protecting their constitutional rights. It’s essential that voters understand how their decisions on Election Day matter to the courts. Visit CivicNebraska.org/courts to learn more.

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