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 Ninety percent of Americans think judges should not hear cases involving campaign supporters, but outdated judicial conduct rules allow this to occur routinely.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.
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