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Judicial Independence

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OPINION
May 11, 1997 | Herman Schwartz, Herman Schwartz, a professor of constitutional law at American University, is the author of "Packing the Courts: The Conservatives' Campaign to Rewrite the Constitution" (Simon & Schuster)
Judicial independence is one of those laudable virtues that is praised on Law Day but resented when practiced. Since judges must often decide politically sensitive issues, virtually certain to displease some political interests, that resentment often erupts into politically partisan attacks. Politically motivated criticism of the courts is nothing new. Today's assaults are, however, more vitriolic, more determined and thus more dangerous, for they threaten to undermine judges' independence.
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WORLD
January 9, 2014 | By Amro Hassan
CAIRO -- Approaching the third anniversary of the overthrow of a despotic leader, Tunisia has moved a step closer to holding its first presidential elections since the uprising that triggered the regional revolts known collectively as the Arab Spring. However, the process has been overshadowed by unrest. Tunisia's Constitutional Assembly has formed a commission that will oversee the balloting, paving the way for the Islamist-led Cabinet and Prime Minister Ali Larayedh to step down.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 18, 1987 | JAMES J. BROSNAHAN, James J. Brosnahan is a lawyer in San Francisco
In the last six months California's legal system has experienced a tumultuous and at times unfair judicial campaign, the removal by the voters of the state's chief justice and two associate justices of the state Supreme Court, the appointment of a new chief justice and the nomination of three new associates. Gov. George Deukmejian now has appointed five of the seven justices on the court.
WORLD
December 23, 2013 | By Laura King
CAIRO -- Under Egypt's military-backed government, even some distinguished jurists have found it hard to keep from running afoul of the law. Half a dozen leading members of the reformist group Judges for Egypt have been summoned before a judge looking into allegations the jurists formed an illegal organization, the state-owned Ahram website reported Monday. The group, which advocates judicial independence, includes two former justice ministers and a former head of the appeals court, the website said, as well as others prominent members of the legal community.
NEWS
June 3, 1995 | JUANITA DARLING, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Mexican judicial independence appeared to have suffered a setback Friday when it was learned that a judge had overturned the murder conviction of an ailing former union leader the day after his wife met with the interior minister to plead for him. Joaquin Hernandez Galicia, known as "La Quina" in the decades when he headed Mexico's powerful oil workers' union, could be released from jail as early as next week, his attorney told reporters.
OPINION
September 14, 1986
Brosnahan certainly let out all of the stops. He apparently subscribes to the Chestnut Theory of writing--lard your work with enough references to famous people, preferably dead, and famous aphorisms, also preferably dead or dying, and you won't have to think in a straight line or produce a coherent argument. I think the theory is that any piece that refers to Chief Justice John Marshall, Sen. Sam Ervin (D-N.C.) and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in approximately three or four breaths of each other can't be all bad. The only real sour point was the reference to Uganda.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 28, 1985 | JOHN BALZAR, Times Political Writer
By a 2-1 margin, Californians believe that a judge should be "independent" from political pressures and not be held "accountable" at election time to the views of voters. These findings of a public opinion poll by USC's Institute of Politics and Government should be good news for California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, who is emphasizing the theme of judicial independence in her bitterly fought confirmation campaign.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 6, 1986
Chief Justice Bird's campaign is in trouble because she, and her supporters--such as Gerald Uelmen in his article (Editorial Pages, Sept. 30), "Shopping for Judges, California Style"--ignore the issue most Californians consider central to this election: whether or not the judges have served the law. "The contest over retention," Uelmen writes, "is being served up to the public as a referendum on the death penalty," and, later, ". . . the battle...
OPINION
November 2, 1986 | Paul Brest and Elizabeth A. Leff, Paul Brest is a professor of constitutional law at Stanford Law School. Elizabeth A. Leff is a third-year student at Stanford Law School
On Tuesday, California voters will decide whether to retain six justices of the state Supreme Court. This question will appear on the same ballot as a host of political candidates. But may we judge the justices in the same way we choose elected officials? Citizens are free to vote for or against political candidates for any reason. After all, we choose them to represent our views. But justices are different from politicians on the ballot. They are not our representatives.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 13, 1999
Your assertion in "A Hand Falls on Hong Kong" (editorial, June 29) that the interpretation by China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the residency rights provisions in the Basic Law undermines Hong Kong's promised high degree of autonomy does not do justice to Hong Kong. The Basic Law--like the American Constitution--includes a very clear legal mechanism by which the law can be interpreted or amended. The power of final interpretation lies with the Standing Committee of the NPC, while the power of amendment lies with the NPC. These powers have been expressly acknowledged by the Court of Final Appeal.
NATIONAL
July 25, 2012 | By Jamie Goldberg, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Attacks on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. as a traitor to conservative ideals for voting to uphold most of President Obama's healthcare law reflect a lack of knowledge about how the American justice system works, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said. "It's unfortunate because I think comments like that demonstrate only too well a lack of understanding that some of our citizens have about the role of the judicial branch," O'Connor said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday in response to a question from ChairmanPatrick J. Leahy (D-Vt)
OPINION
April 10, 2005
Just when we'd think the ethically bloodied House majority leader, Tom DeLay, would try to lower his profile, he's intensifying a crusade (in every sense of the word) for congressional control over the judicial branch of government. If it were just DeLay, the effort wouldn't seem so serious. But he has powerful company in Congress. "Judicial independence does not equal judicial supremacy," DeLay (R-Texas) said Thursday.
OPINION
January 8, 2005
Re "Rehnquist Sees Threat to Judiciary" (Jan. 1): Kudos to Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who has reminded us on this first day of a new year that the founding fathers wisely built checks and balances into our system of government. It is inappropriate -- no, dangerous -- for democracy when politicians threaten reprisals against justices who rule in ways they simply don't like. The U.S. government is based on principles. It is not a free-for-all. Paula Berinstein Thousand Oaks Rehnquist claims that a judge's judicial acts "may not serve as a basis for impeachment.
OPINION
November 2, 2003 | William S. Mount
To judge from all indications, organized opposition to the White House nomination of Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is proving to be every bit as mean-spirited, out-of-bounds and personally scalding as the opposition that the usual suspects threw at Justice Clarence Thomas over a decade ago. Brown is already facing labels like "the far right's dream judge" and "ideologically extreme."
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 12, 2001 | ABNER MIKVA and WILLIAM S. SESSIONS, Former Rep. Abner Mikva (D-Ill.), was a U.S. Court of Appeals chief justice and counsel to President Clinton. William S. Sessions, FBI director under Presidents Reagan and Bush and the former chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Both are members of the Constitution Project's courts initiative
Alexis DeTocqueville, the 19th century French observer of American culture, once said, "There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one." He had no idea. The lasting impression of the 2000 presidential election shouldn't be the stubborn chad or the fact that after almost 100 million votes, the election was decided by barely enough votes to fill a shoe box.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 13, 1999
Your assertion in "A Hand Falls on Hong Kong" (editorial, June 29) that the interpretation by China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the residency rights provisions in the Basic Law undermines Hong Kong's promised high degree of autonomy does not do justice to Hong Kong. The Basic Law--like the American Constitution--includes a very clear legal mechanism by which the law can be interpreted or amended. The power of final interpretation lies with the Standing Committee of the NPC, while the power of amendment lies with the NPC. These powers have been expressly acknowledged by the Court of Final Appeal.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 22, 1998 | HENRY WEINSTEIN, TIMES LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER
Although Americans frequently say "an independent judiciary" is one of the cornerstones of democracy, it became clear at a conference at USC Law School over the weekend that there are sharp differences of opinion among judges and legal scholars about what judicial independence is and whether it is endangered. The conference was held amid rising concern in some quarters that there is a growing threat to judicial independence--however it is defined.
NEWS
October 31, 1998 | RONE TEMPEST, TIMES STAFF WRITER
It has all the elements of a great Hong Kong action movie: * A daring gangster nicknamed "Big Spender" who kidnaps the son of one of the world's richest men, then brazenly shows up at the tycoon's Deep Water Bay mansion to collect the $100-million ransom. * Loyal henchmen with monikers like "Cunning Old Fox" and "Tall Guy Seven" who stage daylight jewelry store robberies and escape in a spray of automatic-weapons fire. * A beautiful girlfriend who braves arrest to attend her lover's trial.
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