Kevin Judd and Keith Watters writing as part of the Defending Justice Series of the American Bar Association Journal contend, President Trump’s utter lack of respect and understanding of the need for an independent judiciary is exemplified when he debased Judge Curiel on racial grounds and also made ad hoc criticisms against the court of appeals.
A judiciary without the faith of the executive is a danger to a free and open society. Citizens rely equally on each of the three branches of government for the administration of governmental affairs. When citizens lose confidence with the branch of government responsible for interpreting the laws, all of our institutions are diminished.
President Trump’s attacks upon judges and judicial decisions undermines the legitimacy of the courts. This diminishes the purpose of having not only a system of checks and balances, but of having a neutral court that can operate independently. Derogatory tweets and criticisms from the executive branch must not be allowed to intimidate the judiciary. For centuries, Americans have relied on fair courts to prevent government overreach and to maintain the constitutional rights of its citizens, regardless of the political motivations of the other two government branches. Allowing the federal courts to serve as an impartial and independent body free of executive interference is crucial to preserving the ideals of the United States of America.
The head of state’s disrespect and contempt for one of the bedrock principles of democracy demonstrates why an independent judicial branch is essential. The executive branch cannot usurp the judicial branch, and the executive branch should not attempt to abrogate this core constitutional structure. Our system of checks and balances has proved to be the bedrock of our democracy. The Constitution safeguards judicial independence; however, separation of powers ensures that each branch must accord the others a certain level of deference. As the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Nixon, no person, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.
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