The Role of the Courts: Independent Judiciary
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The Role of the Courts: Independent Judiciary

November 24, 2019

My name is Nassir Williams. How does the
Constitution ensure independent judiciary that protects justices from
being pressured one way or another in ruling on a case? I’m a judge on the US
court of international trade, so the government is a party to every single
case that I hear. This means that separation of powers and the security
and independence of a lifetime appointment are not just vague academic
concepts to me, I live them out every day. If it weren’t for separation of powers
and judicial independence, every time I ruled in favor of the government my
decision would be suspect and every time I ruled against the government my
decision would put my job in peril. And the people who wrote the Constitution
were very concerned about having judges be immune from that kind of intimidation,
so the first thing they thought was let’s not have them elected, because they
would be immune. If they were elected, they would not be immune from the public outcries at the moment and would have a very short-run view of things. So
they wanted to give them that kind of insulation. As a result, they decided that
the judges would be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the
United States Senate, but even that was not enough because they wanted to know how
long would a judge serve? So they decided that what they would do is make federal
judges have life tenure which meant they would serve, while they behaved
themselves, that’s the magic words in the Constitution and what it means is as
long as judges did not commit any crimes they would remain in their office. Now
what did that mean? What it meant was that when you became a federal judge you
would be free of intimidation by either the executive branch
or congressional brands- branch or by the public so that you could sit and make
decisions, be fair and impartial regardless of the consequences, because
all people want when they go to court is to know they’re going to get a fair
hearing. And in this way you ensured that you would have a fair hearing because
the judges would be fair and impartial, wouldn’t be intimidated. The president
can’t tell me what to do in my job. The Congress can’t tell me what to do in my
job, but at the same time I need to be responsible, I need to respect the
interests of the other branches of government. But there is enough
separation so that the independence that a judge feels is essential for a judge
doing his or her job.

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