One of the basic institutions of our democracy is an independent judiciary — one that is free from external pressure and political threats that arise from the other co-branches of government. Keeping distance between branches creates and instills trust in the judiciary by assuring each individual access to a fair and uninfluenced judicial system.
In the past two weeks, we have seen attacks on the judiciary from both the executive branch and the legislative branch of our government.
In late February President Trump called on Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor to recuse themselves from anything ‘Trump-related.’ This aberrant request from the president came as the Supreme Court was to hear congressional and prosecutors’ requests for his financial records.
Last week we witnessed another breach of judiciary independence when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh would “pay the price” if the court voted in favor of a Louisiana abortion law, adding, “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” Schumer later walked back his words and apologized for them.
Both statements provide glaring examples of judiciary threats that infringe on the normal separation of powers. Public and private threats to our judicial branch undermine trust in the very system that maintains the rule of law and safeguards our individual rights and freedoms. We call on our executive and legislative branches to be diligent and recognize their duty to refrain from disturbing the intended balances of our government by respecting, rather than subverting, the independence of the judiciary.