Judicial branch least understood branch of U.S. government

Q: What is the “least understood branch of government?”

A: Most people are aware that our government has three separate and co-equal branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch. However, the judicial branch is often the least understood, perhaps in part because judges do so much of their important work in court rooms not regularly visited by most members of the public. Also, judicial candidates are not allowed to make issue-based campaign promises about how they will decide cases, since judges are required to make fair and impartial decisions based on the facts of a case, current law, rules of evidence and constitutional law.

Q: What, exactly, does the judicial branch do?

A: The judiciary plays a critical role in the operation of the checks and balances that allows our government to reflect the will of the people while protecting the rights of all individuals. This duty requires judicial independence.

Q: What is judicial independence?

A: Judicial independence is the freedom to make decisions based on the law and constitutions rather than on what voters or special interest groups may want. It leads to fair and impartial courts.

Q: What qualities may foster judicial independence?

A: Each judge brings to the bench educational and professional credentials, as well as a host of life experiences that help form their perspectives. Including judges who reflect diversity on the bench is one way of expanding perspectives within the judiciary while maintaining fairness and impartiality.