Fair Courts

Our Constitution guarantees everyone a fair day in court. But the promise of evenhanded justice in America is increasingly at risk. In state courts, which hear 95 percent of all cases, judicial elections are awash in money. Nearly 90 percent of Americans believe that campaign cash affects courtroom decisions – and alarmingly, nearly half of state court judges believe the same. Outdated judicial conduct rules mean many judges regularly hear cases involving major campaign supporters. And neither state nor federal courts reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

Courts have also been put on defense. The President has repeatedly questioned the authority and legitimacy of federal judges. And across the country, legislators have sought to curtail the independence and power of state courts.

Through research, policy development, public education, and litigation, the Brennan Center promotes measures to protect judicial independence, achieve a diverse bench, and guard against political pressure and special interest influence on the courts.

Judicial Selection and Reform

State courts profoundly impact the country’s legal and political landscape. But judicial selection has increasingly become politicized— particularly in the 38 states with judicial elections. The Brennan Center produces resources, research and data on rethinking judicial selection, real-time reports on advertising in state supreme court elections, and biennial analyses of judicial elections in the Politics of Judicial Elections series.

Judicial Recusal

Robust judicial recusal standards are vital to achieving both the appearance and reality of unbiased decisionmaking. The Brennan Center produces reports, analyses, law journal articles, and advocacy materials related to best practices for judicial recusal in state and federal courts.

Assaults on the Judiciary

Politicians are increasingly targeting the independence and legitimacy of the judicial branch. The Brennan Center produces research and analysis on legislative and other assaults on state and federal courts. 

Promoting Judicial Diversity

Diversity on the bench is an essential component of a fair and impartial judiciary. The Brennan Center produces research and resources on best practices for promoting judicial diversity, the current obstacles to achieving a diverse bench, and the composition of state and federal courts. 

The Federal Judiciary

Federal judicial nominations and procedure have become increasingly contentious in recent years. The Brennan Center tracks developments in the federal judiciary, from nominations, to vacancies, to procedural norms. 

 

Recent Commentary