Making Heads or Tails of Judicial Independence: a Response to Professor Burbank

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The University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online presents the third installment of “Independent and Accountable Courts in Perilous Times: Perspectives from the Academy, the Bench, and the Bar.” The series now switches focus from the academy to the judiciary itself with Judge Marjorie O. Rendell’s response, “Making Heads or Tails of Judicial Independence: A Response to Professor Burbank.” In this essay, Judge Rendell brings forth a unique perspective on judicial independence and accountability from the bench, building on Professor Burbank’s idea that judicial independence and judicial accountability are merely “two sides of the same coin” and going further by shining light on some of the intra-judiciary mechanics that keep judges forthcoming in their judicial administration. Judge Rendell also warns of the perils of reform aimed at making judges more accountable to political actors and their constituents, which may threaten to undo the benefits garnered by our democracy from an independent judiciary. Finally, Judge Rendell emphasizes the importance of civic education in our society, and the “need to teach our children about our system and how the independence of the judiciary is a valued, animating principle that must be preserved and protected.”

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