Judicial Independence Declaration

A basic principle that defines the United States of America is that we are all entitled to equal treatment under the law. The judiciary’s primary function is to protect the rights of all people.

The court system can only function if it is viewed as impartial, that means making decisions based solely upon the facts and the law. 

There are headline grabbing incidents of judges being threatened at all levels of the judiciary.  The incidents are happening more frequently.  These assaults are not solely limited to a disgruntled litigant, or non-prevailing party.  Many are based upon a political agenda.

Judges are called upon to make decisions on controversial and hotly contested matters.  We make these decisions because we have been given a position of trust in our communities.  The voters should be able to determine whether we retain that position of trust based upon whether our rulings are fair and well grounded in the law, not whether we adhere to anyone’s political idealogy.

Our democracy encourages discussion, debate and scrutiny.  The scrutiny that a judge receives is appellate review, and further Supreme Court review.  The right to appeal an adverse ruling subjects those rulings to further scrutiny to determine if that decision comports with the facts and the law.

In November, judges on each level of court system will be on the ballot.  Members of the state supreme court, the state appellate court, and the circuit court will be seeking retention.  Voters should evaluate judges based on their integrity, professionalism, temperament, fairness and impartiality. 

The Illinois Judges Association along with the undersigned represent a broad based coalition that stand together in fighting to defend judicial independence as a means of safeguarding democracy and protecting the rights of our citizens.