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