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Issue 6: The Judiciary's Relationships with the Other Branches of Government

How can the judiciary develop and sustain effective relationships with Congress and the executive branch, yet preserve appropriate autonomy in judiciary governance, management and decision-making?

Issue Description 

Increasingly, the judicial branch’s ability to deliver justice in a manner consistent with its core values is dependent upon its relationships with the other two branches of the federal government. An effective relationship with Congress is critical to success in securing adequate resources. In addition, the judiciary must provide Congress timely and accurate information about issues affecting the administration of justice, and demonstrate that the judiciary has a comprehensive system of oversight and review. The judiciary’s relationships with the executive branch are also critical, particularly in areas where the executive branch has primary administrative or program responsibility, such as judicial security and facilities management. Ongoing communication about Judicial Conference goals, policies, and positions may help to develop the judiciary’s overall relationship with Congress and the executive branch. By seeking opportunities to enhance communication among the three branches, the judiciary can strengthen its role as an equal branch of government while improving the administration of justice. At the same time, the judiciary must endeavor to preserve an appropriate degree of self-sufficiency and discretion in conducting its own affairs. This plan includes two strategies to build relationships with Congress and the executive branch:

Strategy 6.1 

Develop and implement a comprehensive approach to enhancing relations between the judiciary and the Congress.

Background and Commentary. This strategy emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining relationships between judges and members of Congress, at the local level and in Washington. The intent is to enhance activities that are already underway, and to stress their importance in shaping a favorable future for the judiciary. Progress in implementing other strategies in this plan can also help the judiciary to enhance its relationship with Congress. Goals relating to timeliness and accessibility directly affect members’ constituents, and the ability to report measurable progress in meeting goals may bring dividends.

Goal 6.1a:   Improve the early identification of legislative issues in order to improve the judiciary’s ability to respond and communicate with Congress on issues affecting the administration of justice.

Goal 6.1b:   Implement effective approaches, including partnerships with the legal, academic, and private sector organizations, to achieve the judiciary’s legislative goals.

Strategy 6.2 

Strengthen the judiciary’s relations with the executive branch.

Background and Commentary. The executive branch delivers critical services to the judiciary, including space, security, personnel and retirement services, and more. In addition, the executive branch develops and implements policies and procedures that affect the administration of justice. This strategy focuses on enhancing the ability of the judiciary to provide input to the Department of Justice and others regarding proposed actions and policies that affect the administration of justice.

Goal 6.2a:   Improve communications and working relationships with the executive branch to facilitate greater consideration of policy changes and other solutions that will improve the administration of justice.