This discussion guide is for use with the video “State vs. Federal Courts,” which features a conversation with the Hon. Renée Cohn Jubelirer of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Robert Heim, Esq., and the Hon. Theodore McKee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Lynn A. Marks, Esq., moderates the discussion at the Fair and Impartial Judiciary Symposium on October 26, 2019, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Summary: Beginning with the Founders, the assumption has been that a fair and impartial judiciary requires judicial independence. Article III of the U.S. Constitution sought to ensure this independence through a system that provided for the life appointment of judges. Initially, most states copied this system, but later many changed it, influenced by a different view of democracy developed during what is generally known as the Jacksonian era. The result: These states provided for the popular election of judges based on fixed terms. In 1940, Missouri adopted a system that intended to take politics out of the process of choosing judges. Subsequently, this plan was adopted by many states. Learn more from a discussion about state and federal courts.