J.A.I.L. News Journal
The regular readers of J.A.I.L. News Journals have oft
heard the statement that J.A.I.L. will one day eventually encompass
this entire country from sea to shining sea, as is also
announced on our website at http://www.jail4judges.org/Flash.htm.
Nothing makes a point
like one's opposition, and in this case, it is the American Bar
Association, to wit, "Half of U.S. Sees 'Judicial Activism
Crisis.' " In other words, according to a poll conducted by the
ABA, half of America sees the judiciary for what it is, an
unaccountable entity in need of oversight outside and beyond itself.
While this ABA article says nothing directly to
confirm J.A.I.L.'s claim that it will one day encompass all
America, it does layout the very reason why this will be
The American Bar
Association's answer to this "overwhelming problem" reflected in
their poll is to "educate" the American People on how the
judiciary works. Of course, our respond is to say that the more
the ABA tries to inform the American People on how the judiciary
works, the more People will see the judiciary for what
it is -- a totally corrupt and unaccountable entity that has
totally run amuck with the Constitution and the laws of our nation --
men who make up laws as they go.
It should be quite
interesting watching the ABA trying to place a good face on our
nation's judiciary. Like bring gasoline to a fire, their comments
will surely fan the flames of controversy, enlarging the
fireline. Thousands of People with experience will rush to the front
lines of the controversy to engage with the ABA. You can count
on the fact that every word of the ABA will be dissected and will
become the subject of another controversial subject of debate. The
bottom line is, if the ABA is thinks the viewpoints of the American
People are misguided, just wait until the ABA tries to clear up the
problem and give the judiciary a face lift. I'm looking forward
to this engagement. In reality, the ABA will draw more
attention to the answer found at <Federal
J.A.I.L.> located above in this heading.
-Ron Branson, J.A.I.L. CIC.
of U.S. Sees 'Judicial Activism Crisis'
ABA Journal Survey Results Surprise Some Legal Experts
BY MARTHA NEIL
More than half of Americans are angry and disappointed with the
nation's judiciary, a new survey done for the ABA Journal eReport
A majority of the survey respondents agreed with statements that
"judicial activism" has reached the crisis stage, and that judges who
ignore voters' values should be impeached. Nearly half agreed with a
congressman who said judges are "arrogant, out-of-control and
The survey results surprised some legal experts with the extent of
dissatisfaction shown toward the judiciary. "These are surprisingly
large numbers," says Mark V. Tushnet, a constitutional law professor
at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.
"These results are simply scary," adds Charles G. Geyh, a
constitutional law professor at Indiana University School of Law in
The Opinion Research Corp. conducted the survey, calling 1,016 adults
throughout the country in early September. Participants included 505
men and 511 women aged 18 or older. Due to the effects of Hurricane
Katrina, residents of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi were not
Calls were made to a random sample of American households. Those
surveyed were asked questions about their age and education levels,
and were asked to give one of six answers-strongly agree, somewhat
agree, neither agree nor disagree, somewhat disagree, strongly
disagree or don't know-in response to public statements criticizing
Fifty-six percent of the respondents strongly or somewhat agreed with
the opinions expressed in each of two survey statements:
a.. A U.S. congressman has said, "Judicial activism .
seems to have reached a crisis. Judges routinely overrule the will of
the people, invent new rights and ignore traditional morality."
(Twenty-nine percent strongly agreed and 27 percent somewhat
a.. A state governor has said that court opinions should
be in line with voters' values, and judges who repeatedly ignore
those values should be impeached. (Twenty-eight percent strongly
agreed and 28 percent somewhat agreed.)
Forty-six percent strongly or somewhat agreed with the opinion
expressed in a third statement:
a.. A U.S. congressman has called judges arrogant,
out-of-control and unaccountable. (Twenty-one percent strongly agreed
and 25 percent somewhat agreed.)
Among the respondents, younger adults were less likely than older
adults to agree with all three statements. Those with a college
education were more likely to disagree with the statements than high
Only 30 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly disagreed with
the first statement and 32 percent felt the same way about the second
statement. The most disagreement was reflected in the responses to
the third statement, with which 38 percent took issue.
Two percent to 3 percent responded "don't know," and the remainder of
the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the statements.
The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage
points, at the 95 percent confidence level. Opinion Research Corp.
says survey results were "weighted by age, sex, geographic region and
race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total
The congressman referenced in the first question is Rep. Lamar Smith,
R-Texas, who made the comment at an April 2005 rally in Washington,
D.C. The governor in the second question is Matt Blunt, a Missouri
Republican, who reportedly made the comment during an interview with
a religious publication in May 2005. The congressman in the third
question is House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, who made the
comment in March 2005.
Several legal scholars responding to the survey results were startled
by the numbers.
Georgetown's Tushnet says he didn't realize the level of
dissatisfaction was so high. "What I had thought was the case was
that there was a significantly higher residue of general respect for
the courts," he says. "And these numbers suggest that that's not
Geyh of Indiana University says the survey suggests "a trajectory"
upward in the number of people unhappy with the American
judiciary-apparently simply because these critics disagree with the
law that judges have a duty to apply.
The idea that judges should "somehow follow the voters' views really
reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what judges are supposed
to do," he continues. "They should only be criticized when they
ignore the law and start infusing their own values into the law
regardless of the law."
But one legal scholar with an alternative viewpoint is not surprised.
The survey results reflect the reality that "there is a lot of
judicial activism under any definition," says John O. McGinnis, a
professor at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago.
"This problem has been coming for a very long time," he says. "I
think, for most of [the past] century, the idea of the Constitution
as a document that should be interpreted formally and without regard
to the judge's own values has been under attack." Judges today also
do not give due deference to legislative decisions, and too
frequently strike down statutory law, he adds.
Part of the problem, too, McGinnis believes, is that legislators on
both sides of the aisle are conducting judicial confirmation hearings
as though the candidates' personal political views are relevant to
their role on the bench. "Everyone thinks that's what [judges] do,
and they just want their own values" to be reflected by the
judiciary, McGinnis says.
In a written statement, Rep. Smith said judges today "seem to be
promoters of a partisan agenda, not wise teachers relying on
established law." As a co-equal branch of the federal government,
however, the judiciary is subject to congressional oversight as part
of our system of checks and balances, he continued. So "Congress is
right to evaluate judges when they behave like unelected
superlegislators who want to implement their own social agenda."
Spokespersons for Blunt and DeLay did not respond to requests for
The survey figures did not catch ABA President Michael S. Greco by
surprise, either. Instead, he views the results as further
confirmation of the need for new ABA programs now under way to
educate the public about how American government works, and the role
played by judges in a democratic society. Judicial independence is
also the subject of three feature articles in the October issue of
the ABA Journal.
One of Greco's first actions after taking office in August was to
appoint a Commission on Civic Education and the Separation of Powers.
In his President's Message in the October Journal, Greco said the
commission was created to address what he terms an "alarming increase
in rhetorical and physical attacks on the judiciary." The bipartisan
commission is intended to educate Americans about the role of an
independent judiciary in U.S. government.
A poll commissioned by the ABA in July from Harris Interactive showed
a "shocking" 40 percent of respondents could not correctly identify
the three branches of government, Greco wrote.
The commission will help rectify this situation, Greco says, in two
ways: First, it will "find out why it is that half the people polled
don't know how their government works." Second, it will work with
teachers' groups to address "this sorry state of civic
Greco hopes to bring lawyers throughout the country into the nation's
schools on Law Day as part of a larger program of civic education
about the separation of powers and the role of the judiciary. "This
is in the preliminary stages, but the thought is, around Law Day,
have a program that is carried on C-Span and perhaps beamed into
every school in the country."
Held on May 1 each year, Law Day is recognized as a time to focus on
how the rule of law makes democracy possible.
Robert H. Rawson Jr., a Cleveland lawyer who chairs the commission,
emphasizes that these educational efforts will be nonpartisan. "Our
objective is not to get into the politics of judicial selection, but
rather to fill what appears to be a gap in general public
understanding of the fundamental role of a judge," he says, and
"restore what needs restoring-the confidence and trust of the
American public in the judiciary."
The commission has two honorary co-chairs: retiring U.S. Supreme
Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley
of New Jersey.
The October ABA Journal includes three features on judicial
a.. A roundtable discussion by legal experts on recent
attacks on the judicial branch.
b.. A look at hot-button cases that are raising the
hackles of the American public.
c.. A report on how Serbia is addressing issues of
judicial independence and the rule of law in its effort to enter the
©2005 ABA Journal