The Institute for Democracy and Justice is a partnership of state leaders and committed professionals working to promote the principles of democracy and to increase public awareness and knowledge of the roles, functions and interrelationships between the three branches of state government – executive, legislative, and judicial – through civics education. The Institute is dedicated to promoting the principles of democracy through education and public outreach. As such, the Institute will focus on educating the public on the need for a strong, independent, and adequately funded judiciary.
Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye told the Power of Democracy campaign, “The strength of our democratic institutions relies on the public’s understanding of those institutions.” Inspired by the Chief Justice and her commitment to improve civic learning in California, in 2013 founding board members convened in Sacramento and San Francisco to establish a nonprofit organization that could support efforts to revitalize civic learning in California schools, as well as expand these efforts beyond the classroom into communities. We are a diverse group of citizens – leaders in law, business and academia – determined to improve civic engagement and understanding about the principles of government and the role of the judiciary. We are honored to welcome both the Chief Justice and Attorney General of California Xavier Becerra as honorary members of our Board.
California’s judiciary disposed of more than 7.5 million cases last year, serving the public in dispensing impartial justice and resolving civil disputes. The judicial branch has suffered disproportionate budget reductions in recent years, resulting in less access to the justice system. The Institute for Democracy and Justice will increase awareness among community leaders and the public about the relationship between adequate state funding for the administration of justice and the ability to deliver equal access to justice for all.
Californians are competitive, and our disputes often become actual litigation. Without a smoothly functioning judiciary, our economic, environmental, familial and societal disputes remain unresolved, hampering progress and cheapening our lives.
The unique promise of the California Dream is premised on our culture of innovation, which is supported by the rule of law. Our democracy uniquely nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship by ensuring that those who take risks are treated fairly – in success or failure. Our independent judiciary is a distinguishing feature in this form of government.
Through partnerships, public outreach, and education the Institute seeks to promote the principles of democracy and, in doing so, to protect access to justice by educating leaders and the public about the role of the judiciary in a free society, and the courts as the bulwark of American democracy.