Moving Past Crisis...Promoting Parity: How Effective Intergovernmental Relations Can Help Build a More Co-Equal Branch
29 Pages Posted: 18 May 2013
Date Written: May 16, 2013
The crisis impacting the American judiciary is evident in budget cuts and, what some call, “court-curbing” legislation, which attempts to rein in court power. Courts, however, face an especially difficult political conundrum. Work by James Douglas and Roger Hartley in the 2000s noted that court needs do not command the same political salience or attention by political officials as do agencies in the justice system like public safety, prosecution, and correction. In addition, norms of judicial impartiality and the protection of judicial independence often drive what some might consider a passive approach to political engagement by judges and court officials. However, the very nature of the legislative and executive processes necessitate (and reward) active — and sometimes aggressive — political participation to secure needed resources, to build support for legislation that might favorably impact courts, and sometimes to fight off legislation that might harm the power of courts and the work of judges. This Article raises important questions about how courts enter the political process and how they might do so more effectively. While aggressive political action by court officials might draw a political backlash from the other branches and even demonstrate political bias, well-planned, active, and effective intergovernmental relations by courts is a necessary condition for moving past the present crisis in the judiciary.
Keywords: Judicial Independence, accountability, Interbranch Relations, Courts, Lobbying, Intergovernmental Relations, Budget, funding
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