The Role of the Judiciary in a Democracy – Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann
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The Role of the Judiciary in a Democracy – Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann

November 17, 2019


I think judicial independence has at
least two components to it: One is decisional independence and the
other is institutional independence, institutional autonomy. Decisional independence refers to what judges should be able to do, and that is to
render decisions according to the law as they see it, without fear of retribution.
In other words, the ability to call it as they see it, grounded in the law,
and without fear of political blowback. So I think that that’s a very important
part of decisional independence. The other part of judicial independence is
autonomy as an institution, in other words, having the resources that are
necessary for the branch of government, the judiciary, to do it’s job, and that
means having adequate budgets, adequate appropriations, adequate security,
ensuring that the courthouses are welcoming places, and places that are
open for a business. We saw in recent months, when there was a threat of a
government shutdown affecting the judiciary, that would have meant closing
jury trials, shutting down jury trials, our employees not having salaries, all of
which would have had a corrosive effect on the institutional independence. So I
think those are the two components that I would focus on when I think about
independence.

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