The Judicial Branch

Sometimes, an advocacy group, business, church, or even a group of individuals may challenge a law. This is where the Judicial Branch comes in.

The Judicial Branch is made up of the Supreme Court and other “lower” federal courts across the nation. Federal courts handle cases when the U.S. government is being sued, a federal law is being challenged as unconstitutional, bankruptcy or tax cases, and more.

Because the Judicial Branch concerns courts, the main advocacy approaches are legal ones. That doesn’t mean young people can’t get involved.

  • Young people have filed lawsuits against the federal governments on important issues. In 2015, 21 youth climate activists sued then President Obama and the federal government over its climate change policies, which they argued denied them their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They refiled their lawsuit in 2018 against President Trump.
  • Another way to comment on a court case is through an “Amicus Brief,” which is a letter of support that can be submitted in a court case by people who are not directly involved in the case but have an interest in it. You need to have a lawyer to help file an Amicus Brief. If there’s an important Supreme Court case, you can encourage your tribe or a local organization to write an Amicus Brief to ensure that your people’s thoughts, opinions, and needs are heard and considered in the case. Through doing so, you can influence the way the judicial branch interprets a law. This can make a huge impact.

Author: Abaki Beck (Blackfeet and Red River Metis) is a freelance writer and public health researcher passionate about health equity in Native communities, particularly for justice-involved community members. She earned her Master’s in Public Health in 2020 and grew up in Montana.

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