Fair and impartial courts are the guarantor of equal justice in American constitutional democracy. The very legitimacy of the courts depends on the public belief that judges will treat every party without bias or favor, and that any party, regardless of wealth or connections, can have a fair day in court. But public confidence in the courts is at a crisis point. Americans are increasingly concerned about the influence of politics and money on the courts. Three in every four Americans believe campaign cash affects courtroom decisions—and, alarmingly, nearly half of state court judges themselves believe the same. Ninety percent of Americans think judges should not hear cases involving campaign supporters, but outdated judicial conduct rules allow this to occur routinely. Other critical issues include unfair judicial selection systems, including those that result in lack of judicial diversity and election redistricting that decreases minority voters’ input. Finally, inadequate funding of the courts is one of the biggest crises to access to justice that Americans face.
The Brennan Center promotes measures to protect judicial independence and guard against outsized special interest influence. We coordinate a national litigation task force to defend fair courts policies. And we champion a fair, independent bench through judicial diversity.
Click here for more information on our work around reforming judicial recusal rules.
Fair Courts E-lert
We publish a weekly email newsletter with a roundup of developments concerning judges and the judiciary. Read it online or subscribe here
Buying Time Series
Throughout each election cycle, the Brennan Center releases real-time reports on television advertising in state supreme court elections. Every two years we publish a detailed analysis of this data in our New Politics of Judicial Election report series.
Click here for our Buying Time Homepage
Click here for our New Politics of Judicial Elections Homepage
Federal Judicial Nominations
An increasingly dysfunctional nominations process in the Senate is making it harder to confirm federal judicial nominees. The rising number of federal judicial vacancies is threatening the ability of judges to effectively and fairly administer justice. This page features analysis on the nominations process, in addition to detailed statistics on federal district court vacancies.