The independence of the judiciary is an important pillar in any democracy. But throughout history it has also proven to be a fragile one, and there continue to be many examples of that fragility in the United States and throughout the globe.
In the U.S., the courts’ unique role has come under attack on many occasions, despite the constitutional protections designed to ensure that courts are accountable to the law and free from interference by the executive and legislative branches.
A judiciary free from interference has not always been the case. In the 1850s, abolitionists threatened to ignore court orders upholding slavery, just as in the 1950s segregationists tried the same tactic against the Brown v. Board of Education decision. In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, frustrated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of his New Deal legislation, tried to “pack” the court in his favor by proposing to increase the court to 15 members. More recently, in Iowa, three state supreme court judges were voted out in highly politicized retention elections in 2010 after they voted to allow same-sex marriage. Today, many of our politicians have used their unhappiness over specific judicial rulings by personally attacking the jurists responsible for them.
Trust in our court system has also been undermined by judicial elections plagued with partisan and often-misleading information about the candidates because of the increase in special-interest financial contributions in the races.
Click here to read the full story at ABA Journal.
What you'll find
PMC press releases, statements, and news coverage of our work, in addition to the latest news on Pennsylvania's courts, judicial elections, ethics, discipline and more.
Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians can come to our courts with confidence that they will be heard by qualified, fair, and impartial judges
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd., 2 Penn Center, Suite 1140, Philadelphia, PA 19102