By Michael Loebl
With the next presidential election less than one year away, we are constantly bombarded by both conventional and social media with soundbites from the numerous presidential candidates seeking their party’s respective nomination. A frequent target of those running for political office – certainly those seeking the office of U.S. President, but also candidates running in state and local elections – is the purportedly “activist” judiciary, populated we are told by jurists who refuse to follow the law.
The American justice system is by no means beyond criticism; lawsuits often take longer to resolve, and correspondingly are more costly than circumstances warrant. That said, the strident criticism of “extremist” judges by politicians, talk show hosts, and so-called experts making the rounds on one or more of the twenty-four hour cable news networks, lacks proportion when viewed against the crushing caseload of the nation’s state and federal courts. While the courts are on occasion required to adjudicate disputes involving polarizing issues on which the electorate is bitterly divided – such as the reach of certain provisions of the U.S. Constitution over claims concerning same sex marriage, abortion, affirmative action, and campaign finance – the overwhelming majority of cases prosecuted in state and federal courts are resolved, justly and peacefully, without any great controversy. The fact of the matter is that most judges, regardless of their political persuasion, agree on the disposition of an exceptionally high percentage of legal issues which come before the courts. Individuals who do not make a living either appearing in court or closely monitoring the work of the courts would be hard-pressed to glean this point from what now passes for news and commentary on the judiciary.
The judiciary is frequently an easy target by those seeking publicity or some related gain, as judges are limited in what they can say regarding matters which have, or likely will, come before them. Nonetheless, in all but exceptional circumstances, courtrooms across the country are open to the public, and the opinions which judges write adjudicating significant legal issues are more readily available today than ever before. Just as we should all embrace the opportunity to serve as jurors, we would do well to observe firsthand the courts in hearings and trials, and to analyze the actual reasoning and analysis of judicial opinions, wherein judges apply the law to a particular set of facts. A little more of this, and a little less accepting as gospel the latest judicial criticism of the cable news circuit, fosters to a decidedly better, and much more promising, view of our judiciary.
America’s state and federal courts routinely resolve disputes, both big and small, in a peaceful, just, and orderly manner. If you find yourself or your company in litigation, or have reason to believe that you or your company may soon be embroiled in litigation, please do not hesitate to contact any one of the attorneys at our firm.