I want to thank the Hon. Jacqueline H. Nguyen for her time spent as Chair during 2022-2023, as well as her consideration for each of us, her willingness to accommodate how each of us wants to contribute, her diplomacy, sensitivity, and her thoughtfulness. I look forward to seeing her at the 2023 Washington D.C. Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) Summit, November 2-5. I also want to thank Amy Dasgupta, staff for the Judicial Division, who has answered my relentless “on-boarding” questions and has always been available to help. The AJC is very fortunate to have Amy.
AJC is made up of an amazing group of judges and attorneys who share a genuine commitment to maintaining the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Our government institutions are being challenged; indeed, a healthy separation of power appears teetering and a peaceful balance of power tenuous. Civility is frequently absent within and between the branches; respect for institutional knowledge vanishing; and maintaining control and blind adherence to an agenda, at the expense of representative government, seems to be the rule. When control of rulemaking is consolidated in one group, legislation is passed pursuant to agendas and the give-and-take of representative government is compromised. Representative government is designed to preserve the marketplace of ideas essential to a democracy. Hence, it becomes the judiciary’s job to protect for this exchange of ideas, to guard against the dilution of individual rights, and to ensure the backbone of our social contract–the Constitution–is not violated. And, importantly, while the judiciary has the final say of what our constitutional rights are and mean, courts are ill-equipped when they are thrust into political dialogue. Courts, after deciding difficult questions such as a statute’s constitutionality, are frequently made to look as though they have “legislated from the bench” or decided a case based on which political party facilitated a judge’s appointment. True, political interests may affect some judicial decision-makers, but most of us take seriously our oath and understand the importance of the rule of law and of protecting our constitution.