Californians Rely On Our Judiciary to Ensure and Protect Access to Justice
If you keep up with the news today, you, like many others, may be struggling to understand the structure and framework of our democracy; to know where one branch or agency begins and where another ends. Recent events have consistently highlighted the need for and the importance of the separation of powers, demonstrated by the three branches of our government; executive, legislative, and judicial. A thorough understanding of the role each branch plays in supporting democratic principles is paramount to the success of our country. It not only provides citizens with a sense of clarity, but also opens the door to increased civic engagement. When only a quarter of Americans can name the three branches of government, it is imperative that we work together to encourage a renewed interest in our democracy.
Despite this lack of civic knowledge in a broader context, Californians do recognize the need for a robust judiciary. A recent study of California voters conducted by The Great West Policy Research Center displays an interesting trend in how Californians perceive the role of the third branch. 71.6% of those polled believe that the most important function of California’s court system is to hold the executive and legislative branches accountable to our state constitution, while 69.5% found that hearing criminal and public safety cases was most important. What makes this so interesting is that when asked about the most pressing matters facing their communities, public safety was named as one of the top priorities. So, while public safety tops the list as one of the most important issues, in fact many citizens believe that the judiciary’s primary function is to balance power and act as the third leg of the democratic stool. Not only do Californians believe that the courts play a critical role in maintaining balance, but 89.4% expressed that adequate funding of the courts was important to ensure the court’s ability to carry out its role in protecting the constitution.
It’s clear that Californians rely on our judiciary to ensure and protect access to justice. Courthouses across California face constant pressure to adjudicate more and more cases each year, but struggle to find the resources to carry out that role. As a third co-equal branch of our state government, and one that Californians encounter most in their daily lives, it is up to us to encourage our leaders to support such an invaluable institution of our democracy.
Foundation for Democracy and Justice