News Releases
February 08, 2017

Statement from BBA President Carol Starkey on Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law

Press Release

As President of the Boston Bar Association (BBA), I am proud to represent a professional association of lawyers that upholds the important role of the judiciary to, amongst other things, independently interpret the law in accordance with our nation’s Constitution.

So it was not surprising to me that we heard an outpouring from our members expressing their deep concern at the President’s attempt to delegitimize the independence of the judiciary by calling into question, via Twitter, the ruling of federal District Court Judge James Robart in States of Washington & Minnesota v. Trump .

The BBA takes seriously its mission to advance the highest standards of excellence in the legal profession, and its obligation to speak out on matters important to the public interest. Our constitutional democracy relies on an independent judiciary as one of three equal branches of government, as well as on our country’s unwavering commitment to the rule of law, especially as it relates to respect for the separation of powers among the three branches.

As an association of lawyers, including many judges, the BBA knows that compliance with orders of the court – regardless of the passion that any one controversy may inspire – is essential to the functioning of our system of laws and the peaceful and civil adjudication of disputes. In this context, the BBA’s training and leadership of lawyers calls upon all parties before a court to respect the nature of the proceedings, to refrain from questioning the character, motives or integrity of the judge and to defer to orders of the court – while still vigorously pursuing any rights to appeal. We believe that these principles must apply equally to all parties, including the legislative and executive branches of government. To conduct ourselves otherwise would most certainly undermine confidence in the judiciary, erode respect for the rule of law, and upset the delicate system of checks and balances of our system of government.

The BBA has long been committed to the principle of judicial independence. As former BBA President Paul Dacier wrote in 2014 , “[t]he Constitution is not selective – it applies to all citizens, and anybody involved with the law must give it the proper weight.” Failure to do so, particularly by another branch of our government, endangers the very foundations of our democracy.