Article III of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch as a separate, equal branch of the federal government. Known as the guardians of the Constitution, the federal courts are responsible for ensuring that everyone has equal access to the rights and responsibilities outlined in the Constitution. Fair and impartial judgments allow the federal courts to interpret and apply laws to resolve disputes fairly.
The Founding Fathers of the United States considered an independent federal judiciary important in ensuring fairness and equal justice for all citizens of the United States. Their vision for the nation promotes judicial independence in two major ways. First, federal judges are appointed for life, and Congress can remove them from office only through impeachment and conviction. Second, the Constitution provides that neither the President nor Congress can reduce the salary of a federal judge. These two protections help an independent judiciary to decide cases free from popular passions and political influence.
The U.S. Court of appeals for the Federal Circuit handles appeals from lower courts. The Federal Circuit is unique among the thirteen Circuit Courts of Appeals. It has nationwide jurisdiction in many areas, including international trade, government contracts, patents, and certain claims for money from the United States government, federal personnel, and veterans' benefits. Appeals to the court come from all federal district courts, the United States Court of Federal Claims, the United States Court of International Trade, and the United States Court of Veterans Appeals.