An independent judiciary is fundamental to the rule of law, the separation of powers in our constitutional democracy, and the impartial administration of justice.
The Rule of Law
In general terms, the “rule of law” refers to a political system involving a government of laws, not men. Its origins can be traced to Aristotle, who wrote, “It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens.” Magna Carta is often cited as the foundation for the rule of law principles that underpin the American form of democracy. In 1215, with Magna Carta, the Barons of England forced King John back under the rule of law in exchange for the power to exact taxes.
The rule of law implies that all members of society are equally subject to the law—presidents, governors, legislators, law enforcement, and judges are just as subject to the law as ordinary citizens. Governments based on the rule of law stand in contrast to monarchies and oligarchies where rulers are held to be above the law. The rule of law principle most dear to the ISBA and its members is the existence of an independent judiciary.
The ISBA has long been a champion of rule of law principles, specifically in defending the importance of an independent judiciary.
- In April 2015, then ISBA President Richard D. Felice issued a public statement defending the rule of law and the independence of the Illinois judiciary.
- In January 2017, then ISBA President Vincent F. Cornelius issued a public statement defending the rule of law and the importance of the legal profession in upholding it.
- In February 2017, then ISBA President Vincent F. Cornelius issued a second public statement on judicial independence.
- In October 2018, the ISBA Board of Governors adopted a Resolution concerning judicial independence in Poland.