Judicial Independence

Judicial Independence – Piper Fund - Proteus Fund

The judiciary plays a critical role in preserving our rights. We trust that when we stand before a judge we will have our fair day in court; that the judge will rule without bias, free from external pressure or influences.

Unfortunately, the current political climate has emboldened politicians to undermine the role of the judiciary—mounting unprecedented attacks at the state and federal levels. Moreover, wealthy special interests have been spending millions to try to influence our courts and twist them in their favor. Judges are not politicians: they should be free from intimidation and be able to impart justice independently.

Piper Fund has been at the forefront of the fight for judicial independence since 2012—in states across the country, from Alaska to Florida—by helping judicial independence advocates protect our courts, seemingly against all odds.

Judicial independence is not just about protecting courts, it’s about protecting our rights. Piper’s support for advocates’ tireless work guarantees that issues we care about—voting rights, fair housing, civil rights, racial justice, environmental justice, and women’s rights, to name a few—are heard and protected by a fair judicial system.

We believe that winning reform and protecting judicial independence requires a broad and powerful movement. Piper is building this movement through:

  • Investments in community-based groups that can quickly and effectively counter attacks against the courts;
  • Support to state and national advocates in order to build strong networks, and to engage the public on the critical importance of judicial independence; and
  • Strategic convenings with advocates and funders to quickly and effectively determine how to best strengthen the field.

Protecting Our State Courts to Fight Gerrymandering

In last Thursday’s Rucho v. Common Cause, the US Supreme Court held that “partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.” While much of the media coverage has rightly pointed to the Court’s abdication of federal judicial responsibility on the matter, it is important to remember that one judicial venue remains for redistricting cases: state courts. In fact, the majority opinion noted: “Provisions in state statutes and state constitutions can provide standards and guidance for state courts to apply.” This underscores the critical importance of protecting the independence, integrity and overall fairness of state court systems, especially state supreme courts.

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Kathy Bonnifield

Kathy Bonnifield

Senior Program Officer, Judicial Independence, Piper Fund

For more information on the Judicial Independence initiative, please contact: