Judicial Independence

From the Brennan Center:

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Calls for Reforms to Balance Judicial Accountability and Independence
Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente co-authored an article with Melanie Kalmanson analyzing recent efforts to remove state judges following a judicial decision, and recommending potential reforms to appropriately balance judicial accountability and independence.
Pariente and Kalmanson highlight efforts to oust justices due to lawful judicial decisions, including striking down a state ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, as threats to judicial independence. These campaigns, Pariente and Kalmanson said, are often funded by opaque special interest groups and endanger “the role of the judiciary in our democracy.” Moreover, “[j]urists should not perceive a potential threat to their position if they rule in a way that is unpopular, or out of step with public opinion, special interests, or the other political branches.”
Instead of “campaigns to remove judges who render [unpopular] decisions,” Pariente and Kalmanson recommend “ensuring compliance with codes of judicial conduct and imposing consequences for misconduct” through the state’s judicial qualifications committee. They also recommend charging independent nonpartisan judicial evaluation commissions “with periodically evaluating each judge on the basis of objective, appropriate criteria, such as … integrity, professional competence, judicial temperament, experience, and service.” Pariente and Kalmanson further suggest considering “the elimination of merit-retention elections in favor of one lengthy term.”

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