Independence Of The Judiciary
Embodied in the U.S. Constitution that was adopted by our Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention that met in Philadelphia in May-September 1787 is a system of government based on checks and balances among three co-equal branches of government – the legislative, the executive and the judicial. While Article II of the Constitution provides that the President of the United States shall take care that the laws of the United States are “faithfully executed” the President does not make those laws. Instead, while the President may propose legislation, Article I of the Constitution makes clear that the making of laws is the sole function of the legislative branch which is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. In turn, this legislative branch, otherwise known as “Congress” passes laws, but is itself checked by the judicial branch which has the power to review the laws that are passed by Congress. Thus, we have a system of government that – although not free from tension and friction among the three branches – has nevertheless survived for over 225 years.
To better appreciate the reason why the judicial branch of government was included as a co-equal branch we need to know that among the grievances our forefathers had against King George of England as set forth in the Declaration of Independence were the facts that the king had “obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to laws for establishing Judiciary Powers,” and “He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.” In other words, the king had thwarted attempts by some of the thirteen colonies to create their own courts of justice.
(See e.g., https://www.founding.com/the_declaration_of_i/pageID.2442/default.asp). And, he attempted to subject the governors and the judges of the colonies to his control and hence instruments of his own whims, by paying their salaries directly from the National Treasury in England.
To prevent these abuses from occurring under our new system of government our forefathers vested the entire judicial power in “one supreme Court” and “in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” They further provided that judges would have lifetime tenure “during good behavior” and that compensation of judges “shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.” Section.1.,Article III, U.S. Constitution. Thus, our forefathers made sure as Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, that “[I]n absolute governments the king is law,” but “[i]n America the law is king.”
For the law to continue to be king in America we have to be vigilant in protecting the independence of the judicial branch of government at both the state and federal levels. This means speaking out against politicians or special interests groups who demand the removal of a judge simply because that judge made an unpopular decision or one that was against the politician’s or special interest group’s personal agenda. If the judge’s decision is based only on the facts and the law, then the judge has done his or her job and that’s all we as Americans can ask for.