Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
**Comment: Nowhere in the Constitution is the Supreme Court explicitly granted the power of judicial review, that is, the power to declare acts of Congress and state legislatures and the actions of national and state officials unconstitutional and to reverse the decisions of state courts on constitutional questions. The power accorded to the Supreme Court is tersely described in Article III as "the judicial Power"; the institution of judicial review has grown out of the interpretation of that power. The initiative was seized by Chief Justice Marshall in Marbury v. Madison (1803), who took upon himself the power to interpret the Constitution as necessary to reach a decision in the case.
Judicial review has become an integral part of the U.S. political system, and it would take nothing less than a constitutional amendment to do away with it. A lively dispute, however, has been going on throughout U.S. history about the extent to which the power should be exercised. Some believe in judicial self-restraint - that is, that the Court should assume that the acts and actions of coordinate departments of the national government and of state governments are constitutional unless it is convincingly demonstrated that they are not. Others, who are often called judicial activists, feel that the Court should be quick to exercise the power of review. They assert that they too believe in judicial self-restraint as a general proposition, but they maintain that when it comes to important rights, the Constitution itself requires that the acts and actions of others should not be assumed constitutional.**
Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; - to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; - to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; - to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; - to Controversies between two or more States; - between a State and Citizens of another State; - between Citizens of different States; - between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
**Comment: Section 2 of Article III concerns jurisdiction of the courts. Jurisdiction is the authority of a court to exercise judicial power in a particular case. As indicated earlier, Congress may not enlarge or diminish the power that the Constitution vests in the courts. But Congress is granted vast power in Section 2 with respect to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Paragraph 2 of that section indicates the relatively few cases in which the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction (the power to be the first court to hear a case) but provides that "in all other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."
Thus there is no doubt that Congress has the constitutional authority to enlarge or diminish the Court's appellate jurisdiction (its power to review decisions of lower courts). Congress sometimes tries to curtail the appellate jurisdiction of the Court, especially when it is unhappy with recent Court decisions. Such efforts may be unwise, but they are not unconstitutional.**