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Judges Commons

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University of Michigan Law School

Law reform

Public Law and Legal Theory

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Judicial Independence And Social Welfare, Michael D. Gilbert Feb 2014

Judicial Independence And Social Welfare, Michael D. Gilbert

Michigan Law Review

Judicial independence is a cornerstone of American constitutionalism. It empowers judges to check the other branches of government and resolve cases impartially and in accordance with law. Yet independence comes with a hazard. Precisely because they are independent, judges can ignore law and pursue private agendas. For two centuries, scholars have debated those ideas and the underlying tradeoff: independence versus accountability. They have achieved little consensus, in part because independence raises difficult antecedent questions. We cannot decide how independent to make a judge until we agree on what a judge is supposed to do. That depends on one’s views ...