Dedicated to Justice
“[T]he court has no business upsetting the balance of powers between the executive and the legislative branches, no matter whether the members of this court think a particular budget item is wise or foolish. The other branches of government must carry out their constitutional and statutory duties without interference by this court.” SEIU v. Gregoire, published April 9, 2010.
The judiciary is a separate but co-equal branch of government with power and responsibilities distinct from the legislative and executive branches. This simple civics lesson is frequently forgotten or ignored by many, including elected officials and judges. Maintaining the balance among the branches is central to my judicial philosophy.
Historically, the legislative branch has been the servant of the common good – protecting the public health, safety, and welfare for the benefit of the community. The executive branch has been charged with carrying out the legislative will. It is the role of the judiciary to protect the rights of the individual as provided by the Constitution and to ensure that justice is done in disputes among individuals, between individuals and their government, and between the other branches of government.
When functioning as intended, the Court interprets the Constitution to give effect to the fundamental principles underlying the document, interprets statutes to give effect to the intent of the legislature, and follows historical precedent in resolving conflicts among our people. The Court must act as the neutral body, without an agenda or political axe to grind.
Society is in constant motion and change. The judicial branch must provide stability so that people can plan their affairs. At the same time, the law must accommodate change. In my view, the challenge of the judiciary is to find the right balance.