A National Partnership Working for Fair and Impartial Courts
Contact Us Home July 21, 2018
"These are distinctly frightening times-especially for those of us who believe judicial elections should be different from other elections and that it is important to maintain both the appearance and actuality of impartial justice."
Rick Hasen and Dahlia Lithwick

Issues Overview

"An independent judiciary ... is one of the crown jewels of our system of government today."

—Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 1996


The Threat to Fair and Impartial Courts


America's courts play a crucial, unique role in our democracy. They resolve criminal and civil cases, and they protect our constitutional rights. They must remain fair and impartial--accountable to the law, not to special interests. But federal and state courts are under attack.

Federal Court Issues

  • Improper impeachment threats
  • Court-Stripping (banning courts from hearing specified issues)
  • Partisanship over judicial appointments.

State Court Issues

  • Special interest money flooding state court elections
  • Pressure on judicial candidates to promise specific rulings
  • Funding crisis threatens access to justice
  • Key reforms: public financing, appointment/retention, recusal rules and new disclosure laws 


  • People of color, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons, and persons with disabilities are underrepresented among state and federal judges. This lack of diversity on the bench can lead to the appearance of bias, and even actual bias. A more diverse bench improves the quality of justice for all citizens.


The positions and policies of Justice at Stake publications and campaign partners are their own, and do not necessarily reflect those of other campaign partners or board members.
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