Article I “Legislative Courts” – have administrative, quasi-legislative, and judicial duties used for the express purpose of helping to administer specific congressional statutes


     The Judiciary Act of 1789 established the three levels of the federal court system in existence today. Periodically, however, Congress has exercised its power, based on Article III and Article I of the Constitution, to create other federal courts.  Courts established under Article III are known as constitutional courts and those created under Article I are called legislative courts.  The Supreme Court, courts of appealsfederal district courts, and the Court of International Trade are constitutional courts

Legislative Courts:
“Article I Courts”

     Legislative courts, unlike their constitutional counterparts, often have administrative and quasi-legislative as well as judicial duties.  Another difference is that legislative courts are often created for the express purpose of helping to administer a specific congressional statute.  Constitutional courts, on the other hand, are tribunals established to handle litigation.

     Finally, the constitutional and legislative courts vary in their degree of independence from the other two branches of government.  Article III (constitutional court) judges serve during a period of good behavior, or what amounts to life tenure.  Because Article I (legislative court) judges have no constitutional guarantee of good-behavior tenure, Congress may set specific terms of office for them.  In sum, the constitutional courts have a greater degree of independence from the other two branches of government than the legislative courts.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces – worldwide appellate jurisdiction over members of the armed forces on active duty and other persons subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims – reviews Board of Veterans’ Appeals decisions appealed by claimants who believe the Board erred in its decision.

U.S. Tax Court – a trial court to expeditiously resolve disputes between taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service.

U.S. Court of Federal Claims – a special trial court which deals with most claims for money damages against the U.S. government, and damages related to vaccine compensation.

Court of International Trade – addresses cases involving international trade and customs laws.


     Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases involving personal, business, or farm bankruptcy.  This means a bankruptcy case cannot be filed in state court.  Through the bankruptcy process, individuals or businesses that can no longer pay their creditors may either seek a court-supervised liquidation of their assets, or they may reorganize their financial affairs and work out a plan to pay their debts. [1] [2]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is pertinent to people everywhere, and is being utilized in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]:  IIP Digital website: “History and Organization of the Federal Judicial System” (retrieved 2015):

[2]: Home pages of each court’s website.


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