Volume 76, Number 6

December 2001

The Judicial Branch in State Government: Parables of Law, Politics, and Power

The Honorable Christine M. Durham

In this Brennan Lecture, Justice Christine Durham explores the influence of power and politics on the judicial process of state court judges. The federal separation-of-powers doctrine tends to be far more strict than any separation-of-powers concerns found in state constitutions. Thus, unlike the federal courts, which largely are insulated from the political process, state court judges are actively involved in legislative and executive functions. Justice Durham suggests that the political pressure stemming from frequent interbranch activity, as well as the majoritarian pressure stemming from the popular election of most state judges, may influence decisions, often with disturbing results. Justice Durham also considers the effects such pressure can have on the integrity of the decisionmaking process.