The Importance of an Independent Judiciary

Our American system of government has three branches to provide “checks and balances” to power, and to ensure that no single branch of government tramples on the interests of any single citizen or group.

For its part, the judicial branch is charged with interpreting the laws. Judges administer justice by applying the law to the facts at hand and rendering a decision. The proverbial scales of justice are blind, symbolizing the ideal that judges apply the law equally without regard for the “face” of the people or cause before them.
For justice to be blind, however, judges must be as independent and free of outside influence as possible. History is replete with examples of societies in which the court system was nothing more than a means of promoting and enforcing the party line. In societies like these, trials are conducted with a pre-determined outcome, and justice is not truly blind.

The American system is different, and while not perfect, is the envy of many throughout the world. Of course, even with a completely independent judiciary, no judicial proceeding can occur without some outside influence. Judges, after all, are still human and bring their personal biases and opinions to the bench. What is important, however, is that judges be free to apply the law blindly without fear of offending a special interest group, or another branch of government. As Francis Bacon, the famous English statesmen, is quoted as saying, “If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us.”

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