10chapter10

10chapter10 - 10 Introduction A discussion of the judiciary...

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Unformatted text preview: 10 Introduction A discussion of the judiciary brings up several problems for democratic theory. In Texas judges are answerable to the people through elections. Elections makes judges vulnerable to the suspicion that they are allowing private interests to corrupt their views on public affairs. The importance of money in the judicial creates doubts whether judges are providing equal justice for all. The Texas judiciary is a troubled democratic institution. I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I 10 The Myth of the Nonpolitical Judiciary Americans' Faith in Legal Solutions Many Americans exhibit a faith in laws as solutions to social problems. Problems are often forgotten once a law is enacted since it is assumed, incorrectly, that the mere existence of a law constitutes a solution. I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I 10 The Myth of the Nonpolitical Judiciary Politicians in Black Robes Ideally, judges stand above the political frayabove passion and prejudiceand, using neutral, impersonal, impartial criteria rule on evidence and procedure purely on the basis of fairness and established principles. While it is true that judges are less moved by personal idiosyncrasy and political influence than are legislators or governors, what judges do is political. Judges make laws, and the constitution, in the process of interpretation. When judges make decisions somebody wins and somebody loses. Because judges in Texas are elected, the political nature of their work is even more obvious. Even when judges are not divided by party they are divided by ideology. Thus, fair-minded or not, judges bring as many preconceptions to their work as do legislators or executives. I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I 10 The Players in the System of Justice The Attorney General The attorney general (AG) of Texas, the state's chief legal officer, possesses a highly significant power, the authority to issue advisory opinions. The legislature and executive branch agencies may seek the AG's advice as to the constitutionality of legislative pro-posals, rules, procedures, and statutes. In 2002, Attorney General John Cornyn handed down 143 Attorney General Opinions dealing with the constitutionality of proposed government laws or actions. The attorney general's power to issue advisory opinions, which has come to be accepted virtually without challenge, allows state officials to obtain rulings on disputed constitutional issues without the time and expense of court actions. The most publicized ruling in recent years dealt with the subject of affirmative action. The power of the attorney general to issue advisory opinions illustrates how some public policy is being set neither by the state legislature nor by the governor, but the attorney general....
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10chapter10 - 10 Introduction A discussion of the judiciary...

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