June 1, 2021 Letters
With the Judiciary Act of 2021 introduced in the U.S. Senate, which would expand the U.S. Supreme Court to 13 justices, and with President Joe Biden by executive order having established the Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States to report on “reform” of the U.S. Supreme Court, I submit that The Florida Bar and its president should announce their opposition to these partisan political moves designed to end the political independence of the Court.
The Bar president and the Bar should advocate for the independence of the Supreme Court like they have advocated for the independence of the Florida judiciary for at least the last 20 years.
In 2000, Bar President Herman Russomanno wrote of the Legislature’s threats to judicial independence, which he described as “legislative attempts to control outcomes of litigation” and “bills adding more justices to the Supreme Court.” (See Herman J. Russomanno, Independent Bar and Independent Judiciary Enrich Democracy, 74 Fla. B.J. 4 (July/Aug. 2000)). President Russomanno wrote that, “the cornerstone of American liberty lies in the power of the courts to protect the rights of the people from the momentary excesses of political majorities….We cannot allow political demagoguery and special interests to undermine the genius of our constitutional system. We must fulfill our duty to protest the independence of the bar and the judiciary….The Florida Bar will build trust and confidence by exposing political threats to judicial independence.”
President Russomanno’s efforts led to the formation of The Florida Bar Committee on Judicial Independence, which was charged with the mission of advocating for an independent, impartial judiciary. In the 2011-2012 year, the committee’s mission did not change but the name was changed to the Constitutional Judiciary Committee, which exists to this date with the same mission.
Florida Bar presidents since 2000 have emphasized the importance of the Bar advocating to preserve an independent judiciary that is free from political, partisan, domination. With this 20-year record of The Florida Bar and its presidents vigorously advocating for an independent judiciary, the Bar’s campaign for judicial independence should now be directed to the U.S. Supreme Court with the serious threats that now exist to turn the high court into a partisan, biased, political, third branch of government.
In 2019, the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that packing the Court with more judges “would make the court appear partisan” and that, “If anything would make the Court appear partisan it would be that. One side saying when we’re in power we’re going to enlarge the number of judges so we’ll have more people who will vote the way we want them to. So I’m not in favor of that solution to what I see as a temporary situation.” Liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer also argued against packing the Court in his remarks to Harvard Law School in April.
The United States Supreme Court is one of the few American governmental institutions in which a majority of people still trust and view with confidence and approval. The U.S. Supreme Court’s authority rests on the level of confidence that people have that it is a non-political, unbiased, Court that treats all people equal under law based on the impartial application of the rule of law. I submit that The Florida Bar president and the Bar should quickly speak out in opposition to the Judiciary Act of 2021 and speak against any recommendation of the Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States to pack the Court or to institute term limits of justices without grandfathering-in the lifetime terms of the current justices.
To sometimes split infinitives, or not to ever split infinitives? That is the question.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no steadfast rule in the English language against split infinitives.