A Co-Equal Branch: The Judiciary’s Only Place is an Equal Place
My 7th grade daughter is studying Marbury v. Madison, the first time the United States Supreme Court declared an act of the legislature unconstitutional. It is a seminal case in the history of our democracy as it was the first time the theory of three, co-equal branches of government became reality. Ironically, in that case, the Court struck down a law that itself provided power and authority to the Court that the Court determined went beyond the reach of Article III of the United States Constitution. The Court, by declining the legislature’s grant of power in that case, established itself for all time as a branch of government equal in strength to the other two.
Since then, the theory of our constitutional democracy has become reality, but has also endured the test of reality. Every day, our political leaders test our democratic principles. The legislative and executive branches perennially challenge the authority of the Court. They denigrate and criticize any judicial oversight the Court provides. They use politics to isolate our judges who are duty bound to apply concepts of fairness and justice at the expense of popular opinion. Often, the intellectual confines of judging are a great disadvantage against the opinion making and rhetoric of the poll driven political world.
In Florida, the Supreme Court is a political football. The Governor and the Legislature fail each year to provide our court system adequate funding; they seek to politicize the appointment process; they criticize any action by the Court to hold the other branches accountable. We must all remember: the only branch that provides checks and balances against the special-interest-funded, corporate oriented legislative and executive branches is the judicial branch. We should covet and support a fully independent, fully funded, co-equal judicial branch of government. It is the cornerstone of our democracy and the guardian of our liberty. Say “No” to politicizing judicial appointments, say “yes” to adequate court funding, and insist on a judicial branch that shows the courage to stand up and do the right thing, popular opinion notwithstanding.