Undermining the courts’ independence was among the actions by King George III that was cited to justify America’s separation from Great Britain. Alexander Hamilton wrote that an independent judiciary is “peculiarly essential” for our system of government. In 1937, a heavily Democratic Congress rejected President Franklin Roosevelt’s plan to restructure the judiciary in response to “reactionary” decisions. An independent judiciary has helped to safeguard liberty in our country, while remaining illusory in other countries. Yet today, certain political forces threaten to “pack” the Supreme Court or “restructure” the judiciary in response to what they call “politicized” decisions. These threats are becoming more direct, even finding their way into legal briefs filed with the very courts from which change is demanded. This event will focus on the meaning and importance of judicial independence and current threats to what the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist called one of the “crown jewels” of our system of government.

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