Gavel Grab

Access to Justice Among Cohen’s ‘State of the Law’ Themes

What was missing from the latest State of the Union speech of President Obama, who was a constitutional scholar before occupying the White House?

You decide. At The Atlantic online, legal analyst Andrew Cohen wrote in advance his excerpts of an “ideal” speech on the “State of the Law” in 2013. He touched on issues of concern to the fair courts movement, including the impact of budget cuts on access to justice and the judicial vacancy crisis:

“Today in America, on the most basic levels, government also has failed to deliver to hundreds of millions of its constituents the timely administration of law. One of the basic foundations of any capitalist society is a functioning and fair judicial system — one that resolves disputes and creates the legal certainties that markets demand. But today too many Americans cannot get their day in court because their courts are closed by budget cuts, because their trial judges labor under staggering case loads, or because lawmakers here in Washington have failed to timely confirm even those judicial nominees with broad bipartisan support.

“This is unacceptable. No country that considers itself first-rate should have a third-rate judicial system. No country that professes to adhere to a rule of law should tolerate empty benches and dark courthouses. No country that respects its judiciary should permit its judges to be hassled and harried by unworkable dockets. I now ask the Senate to speed up the pace of federal judicial confirmation votes. And I call on lawmakers everywhere to restore state judiciaries to their rightful status as a co-equal branches of government.”

Addressing court funding cuts, Cohen hyper-linked to a Web page of the National Center for State Courts, a Justice at Stake partner group.

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