Historical perspective

Unfortunately, threats against our courts are not a new phenomenon.


As the American Bar Association explains below, the framers of the U.S. Constitution were well aware of the risk and took precautionary measures to preserve the independence of the judiciary. [http://www.abanet.org/publiced/lawday/talking/independentcourts.html]


“Our Declaration of Independence rang loud with the word that railed against King George III, charging that he had usurped the rule of law in favor of arbitrary and capricious policies. Two of the most vociferous accusations directly dealt with courts, alleging that the King had ‘obstructed the Administration of Justice’ and had ‘made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.’ In short, the actions of George III corrupted the intent of laws to secure the people in the living of their lives in a free society.


“It was precisely because of this history that the Framers of the Constitution took pains to insulate federal judges from partisan political pressure by giving them life tenure during good behavior and providing that their salaries could not be reduced during their tenure.


“The Framers were very wise. Throughout American history, there have been periodic surges in the number and harshness of attacks on our courts. Generally, these attacks have come about because judges have properly done their job: they have administered the law without fear or favor, perhaps incurring unpopularity while upholding the law…


“These attacks are made because narrowly focused special interests find it easy to stigmatize a judge for an unpopular but principled decision. The ultimate remedy is to educate the public, so that they understand the importance of independent courts, and understand that this particular kind of demagoguery undermines the rule of law.”