Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, June 28, 2019

Independent judiciary vital to freedom

Collier, McDonough stress active involvement of citizenry in our court system

The Fourth of July. Independence Day. A national holiday when all Americans join together to celebrate the breaking away from England and the establishment of our independent nation.

Our founders cherished the freedom and independence they were declaring. That declaration placed the founders in extreme jeopardy and subjected them to the loss of their property, liberty and lives. The founders bequeath to us that same spirit that we celebrate on Independence Day.

They also made another bequest to us: The form of government we still have today. Our personal freedom, or individual independence, is fostered through our three separate branches of government: the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

The role of the judicial branch in the protection and preservation of democracy often goes unappreciated. But our personal liberty and freedom could not be secured without a separate and independent judiciary.

The judiciary has as one of its primary missions maintaining individual rights within our democracy. When citizens think their personal liberty from unwarranted government intrusion is at stake, they have ready recourse to the judicial branch.

The judicial branch enhances the independence of the citizenry by performing its duties free from influence from private and governmental persons and entities to ensure a fair and unbiased legal process.

While judges have discretion in their rulings and in the interpretation of laws, they strive to abide by due process and precedent to promote an impartial judicial system of the people, by the people and for the people.

In order for the federal courts’ relationship with the citizenry to function, the courts must earn the public’s faith and confidence in a fair court system. Earning trust by promoting a non-partisan and unbiased system results in fair treatment of all parties and develops faith in the courts.

There are fewer jury trials than in the past, which leads to fewer citizens having an opportunity to observe and participate in the court system, but jurors still play a critical role in maintaining our country’s independence. The right to a jury trial promotes justice for all and engages the citizenry in the fair adjudication of cases that impact their communities.

In assessing the role of the judicial branch in protecting our democracy, Andrew Jackson noted, “[a]ll the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous judiciary.” Judges, juries and the active involvement of the citizenry in the judicial process helps ensure equal justice for all.

Curtis L. Collier

United States District Judge

Chair, Eastern District of Tennessee

Civics and Outreach Committee

Travis R. McDonough

United States District Judge

Chattanooga subcommittee chair

Civics and Outreach Committee