The simplicity of the mechanism is a guarantee of its efficiency

“The most difficult thing for a foreigner to understand about the United States is the judiciary,” said 19th-century French politician Alexis de Tocqueville, author of the historical-political treatise Democracy in America, which is called the best book about America.

A century and a half has passed, but experts unanimously claim that nothing has fundamentally changed. And even local citizens, as before, do not differ much from visitors in this respect.


At the same time, borrowing and direct copying of the American judicial system, even by developed countries, proves the effectiveness of its work. For example, in 2004, Japan introduced an American-style professional legal education system, and the description of the judiciary in the Japanese Constitution almost verbatim quotes the American model.

Compare for yourselves: “All judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court and such inferior courts as shall be established by law” and “The judicial power of the United States is vested in one Supreme Court and such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time establish.”

Regionalism = separatism = sudden collapse of the country

The main reason for the incomprehensibility of the American judicial system for the vast majority of mere mortals is that the courts of this country do not constitute a single structure. By and large, one cannot speak of a unified American system of courts.

The United States is a federal state, which means that the legal system allows for the parallel functioning of two judicial systems: federal courts and state courts.

Both are headed by the Supreme Courts of the federation and each state, respectively. These systems are independent, isolated, but in contact with each other on a wide range of issues.

Thus, it would not be an exaggeration to say that there are 54 almost independent systems operating in the United States, based on multiple sources of American law. These are the courts of fifty states, the District of Columbia and three federal territories – Guam, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Duplication of functions of state institutions is the reason for the escalation of interdepartmental conflicts

The USA belongs to the decentralized type: the administration of justice in the main array of claims is handled by the states. In matters of national importance, exclusive justice is exercised by the federation. It is this circumstance, called “the dualism of the judiciary”, that determines the specific complexity of the judicial system in the United States.

Each state, and the federation as a whole, has its own legal systems, reflecting the different political and social traditions of the state. State courts interpret the statutory law of an entity in their own way. Therefore, it is considered that the common law is almost always the law of a particular state. That allows you to maintain the status quo.

At the same time, the courts of one system often apply and interpret laws developed in another system. In many cases, state courts have pointedly ignored the doctrines of the US Supreme Court. This norm is based on the principle of peaceful coexistence and non-interference in the work of each other by various systems.

This competing jurisdiction is designed to ensure the stability and evolution of the US judiciary as a whole.

The separation of powers is a sign of inner freedom

It is generally accepted that the almost complete independence of the judiciary (and not only) in every US state is a sign and a clear illustration of the triumph of democratic principles and the philosophy of regionalism. At the same time, the internal mechanisms of the operation of such a system are almost not considered, which can be understood by studying the history of its occurrence.

The generally accepted point of view has become that the wide area of ​​judicial jurisdiction of the states is a relic of their former isolation: the colonial division into North-South, the long period of the logistical division of the country into two oceanic coasts and the Center …

The most significant consequence of this state of affairs was the fact that on the territory of thirteen the colonies of the North, before independence, there was no judicial body that could become the prototype of the federal court.

Thus, the refusal to create a centralized body with dictatorial powers could become a necessary measure in the context of the young country’s struggle for independence and the lack of necessary experience, both among the authorities and industry professionals.

Indeed, the United States became the first country where the principle of separation of powers was enshrined in the Constitution. However, this fact, as well as the limitation of the power of the federal court, is most easily explained by the US colonial complex: the diversification of power is a preventive measure that protects against the control and intervention of the mother country, as well as from the subsequent seizure of full power.

The abuses of executive power are mitigated by the control of the judiciary, the benefits of hypothetical manipulation of the decisions of the Supreme Federal Court are mitigated by the ability of each state’s judiciary to live and work by its own laws and rules.

Such a system has obvious advantages in the conditions of war and the threat of intervention, and at the same time, an excess inertial potential – in peacetime, requiring mobile changes and rapid coordinated evolution of the entire state apparatus. Thus, a diversified, like the American, judicial system, in our opinion, can be called a “permanent state of emergency” system.