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February 04, 2008

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Let's see now. Justice Breyer thinks all's well with the courts, and it's just that the Great Unwashed doesn't understand "judicial independence," which means "We can do anything we damn please without being held accountable."

Sorry, Your Honor. It won't wash. If you want to be a mover and shaker and public policy maker, the Great Unwashed has every legitimate right to have a say in your moving and shaking. As Judge Alex Kozinski once put it: "When we act like politicians, we will be treated like politicians."

So perhaps Justice Breyer and friends may want to try observing the other "I-word" -- judicial impartiality. It's a tough one. But who knows? It might work.

Thanks for the comments, Professor. My question, unasked because of the crowd, was to what extent is public criticism of decisions seen by judges/justices as an impingement on judicial independence. Certainly, the judiciary cannot expect the public to abide without public criticism of its decisions. Criticism must be acceptable in a democracy, but perhaps not reductions of the judiciary's budget? Certainly when courts leap into the fray, think Schiavo case or Bush v. Gore, individual judges cannot think they escape any criticism for their decisions.

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