Our Constitutions, state and federal, create three co-equal branches of government: the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial.
- The “political branches”, the Executive and Legislative, make and carry out the laws to promote a political agenda.
- Executive and Legislative branch officials run for office with a platform and make campaign promises.
Justices and Judges are different.
- Judges cannot promise anything, other than to be fair and impartial.
- Judges take an oath to administer justice without fear or favoritism, and to be free of outside influences.
- Judges are different from the other political branches, and it must be kept that way to protect the integrity and effectiveness of our system of checks and balances.
- Judges should be appointed or elected based on their integrity, professional competence, judicial temperament, professional excellence and commitment to public service and the administration of justice.
Fair and impartial courts are indispensable to the functioning of American democracy. That’s why our Constitution created a judicial system designed to stand apart from politics and to protect the individual rights of all Americans. Americans depend on strong courts to uphold the Constitution and to rule on every case fairly and impartially without fear or favor.
The Informed Voters Project maintains that the judiciary must be protected from attempts to undermine the system of fairness that was established when the United States Constitution was adopted more than 200 years ago. Judges must be protected from politics and special interests, those who attack judges for deciding cases based on the evidence and the law, and those who try to tip the scales of justice in their favor.
Since 2010*, the number of attacks has increased, and the identities of individuals involved are often times not easily traced. Groups and individuals have emerged with the intent of spending large sums of money to influence the selection of justices and judges. Some have launched attack campaigns on sitting state supreme court justices, hoping to replace them with ones they believe will be more inclined to favor their particular agenda. These forces spend time and money attacking justices whose decisions or backgrounds they do not like, without regard to the skill, experience or integrity of the one being attacked. Their methods are by now familiar: an unflattering photo, sinister music, or accusations based on a distortion of particular decisions. These efforts undermine the oaths of impartiality that justices and judges take and threaten the integrity of the role of the judicial branch.
We cannot let those who want to politicize our courts replace or dissuade fair-minded justices with ones who are willing to follow an agenda rather than the oath to be fair and impartial!
What IVP is Doing
The National Association of Women Judges, a nationwide non-partisan organization of judges from around the country, launched the Informed Voters Project in 2012 as a civic education initiative to inform our citizens about the role of the judicial branch and awareness of political attacks. We are proud to have many partners including the American Board of Trial Advocates and the Defense Research Initiative.
Politics and special interests have no place in American courts. The Informed Voters Project is working to inform voters that politics, big money, and special interest have no place in the judicial branch. IVP informs voters that judges should be evaluated based on character and integrity. Voters should be informed about the role of judges in our democracy and the essential principle that justice depends on fair and impartial judges.
To do this, IVP has created a broad array of educational resources both in English and Spanish to ensure that judges, legal professionals and other educators can explain the problem to our citizens and teach them how to become a more informed voter in judicial elections. IVP’s materials can be used to inform the public about the role of our courts in protecting our democracy and about how to appropriately evaluate justices and judicial candidates based on their character and integrity.