Central to the rule of law is a fair and impartial arbiter, the judge, who makes decisions based on the law and not personal prejudices, political considerations, or what may be popular at the moment. We examine issues of racial bias of judges and the remedies, or lack thereof, for such bias. We also look at a practice peculiar to the United States – the election of judges in many states. We see how elections can affect judges, and use some examples of televised judicial campaign ads to examine the role of rulings in criminal cases in judicial campaigns. Prof. Bright also talks to Justice Penny White, who served as a Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court until 1996. Justice White was voted out of office in a retention election after a campaign against her based mostly on the Court’s decision reversing a death sentence. Justice White discusses judicial independence and the influence of interest groups on the justice system.
The Right to an Impartial Judge (s8a)
Central to the rule of law is a fair and impartial arbiter, the judge, who makes decisions based on the law and not personal prejudices, political considerations, or what may be popular at the moment. Yet, as this class explores, people who become judges may have biases that influence their decisions. There is a particular danger of political considerations influencing judicial decisions in states where judges are elected.
Tagged under: Yale,Capital Punishment,Stephen Bright,Death Penalty,Race,Poverty,Disadvantage,racial disparities,injustice,judges
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