Cornerstones of Democracy
Role of the Judiciary: Independent and Impartial
The framers of the Constitution set up the executive, legislative and judicial branches as equals to provide a system of checks and balances. The judicial system exists to interpret the law and to evaluate the constitutionality of those laws. The judicial system was designed to be independent from the other two branches of government. Judges and justices are expected to decide cases in an impartial manner. These two concepts - independence and impartiality - are cornerstones to our democracy.
Judicial Independence - What does it mean?
- Independence means that the courts have the right to work on cases without the other branches of government, political pressure, or the influence of special interests (public or financial pressures) interfering with their decisions.
- Impartiality means that judges are expected to rule dispassionately, applying the rule of law rather than their personal beliefs and treat all who come before them equally and without favoritism.
Many believe that both the independence and the impartiality of our judicial system are under threat from outside influences. Judicial elections are becoming increasingly partisan and expensive. Minnesota has been spared some of the high campaign expenditures and negative attacks that have been problematic in other states, but it is only a matter of time before we see this trend come to our state.
Resources (links to reports)
- LWVMN Report of the Judicial Selection Study Committee 2007.pdf
- Judicial Retention Bill Faces Uncertain Future 11.8.13.pdf
- CIJ The Impartial Justice Act: Ensuring an Impartial, Fair, & Accountable Judicial System for Minnesota fall2013.pdf