Special Courts

In addition to the federal courts of general jurisdiction, it has been necessary from time to time to set up courts for special purposes. These are known as "legislative" courts because they were created by congressional action. Judges in these courts, like their peers in other federal courts, are appointed for life terms by the president, with Senate approval.

Perhaps the most important of these special courts is the Court of Claims, established in 1855 to render judgment on monetary claims against the United States. Other special courts include the Customs Court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over civil actions involving taxes or quotas on imported goods, and the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals which hears appellate motions from decisions of the Customs Court and the U.S. Patent Office.