Play video

Origin and Development of the Federal Courts

Learn about the origins of the federal court system from the Articles of Confederation to the present.


The United States federal courts have evolved over many years, changing from relatively powerless, narrowly constrained institutions into the powerful bodies they are today.

I.          Articles of Confederation & The Constitutional Convention

Before the Constitution, the drafters tried to formalize governance of the new nation with the Articles of Confederation. However, the drafters’ fear of an overly powerful central government resulted in the...