Legislation Would Erode Separation of Powers and Jeopardize Fair and
Impartial Decision-Making by the Judiciary, Report Says
HONOLULU, Aug. 6 LAWFUEL – Press Release Service — The American Bar Association House of Delegates will consider a late-breaking policy recommendation opposing
pending legislation to create an inspector general for the federal
judiciary answerable to Congress. According to the proposal and
accompanying report, such a law would undermine the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and impede the judiciary’s ability to make fair and impartial decisions free from the influence of Congress. The House will
meet Aug. 7 – 8 in Hawaii.
The resolution does not represent the policy of the American Bar
Association until it is approved by the House of Delegates. Informational
reports, comments and supporting data are not approved by the House in its voting and represent only the views of the Section or Committee submitting them.
Sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judicial
Improvements, the recommendation would put the association on record
opposing companion bills H.R. 5219, sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner,
Wis., and S. 2678, introduced by Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa, in the 109th Congress. The proposal also would oppose the creation of any statutory
inspector general with close ties to Congress and broad investigative power over judges and the judiciary.
“Our country’s founders purposely created an independent judiciary as a separate and co-equal branch of government, in order that courts could make fair and impartial decisions, free from pressure or influence of the other branches, and to check and balance the powers of the other branches,” said American Bar Association President Michael S. Greco. “This misguided
legislation calling for creation of an inspector general to ‘oversee’
judges would formally subject the judiciary to constant institutional
pressure and interference from Congress, a direct threat to the separation of powers doctrine. It would also hamper judges’ ability to decide cases
fairly and impartially, based only on the facts and the law. In its wisdom Congress should reject this unwarranted, dangerous and unconstitutional
intrusion into the judiciary’s powers.”
In addition to opposing congressional creation of an inspector general for the federal judiciary, the recommendation would acknowledge recent
efforts by the Judicial Conference of the United States to improve its
internal oversight. At the same time, the proposal would urge the
conference, along with the Supreme Court of the United States, and the
circuit councils of each judicial circuit, to reinvigorate public
confidence in the judiciary by regularly reviewing and enhancing oversight of judicial administration and ethics. Finally, the recommendation would
urge members of Congress and the federal judiciary to build a more
constructive, cooperative and regular dialogue about issues of mutual
With more than 410,000 members, the American Bar Association is the
largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the
administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society.