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JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IN A DEMOCRACY: Reflections on Impeachments in America and the Philippines*

Author:

David C. Steelman

Retired from National Center for State Courts, US
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Abstract

On May 11, 2018, Maria Lourdes Sereno was removed from office as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. She had been a vocal critic of controversial President Rodrigo Duterte, and he had labeled her as an “enemy.” While she was under legislative impeachment investigation, Duterte’s solicitor general filed a quo warranto petition in the Supreme Court to challenge her right to hold office. The Supreme Court responded to that petition by ordering her removal, which her supporters claimed was politically-motivated and possibly unconstitutional. The story of Chief Justice Sereno should give urgency to the need for us to consider the proposition that maintaining the rule of law can be difficult, and that attacks on judicial independence can pose a grave threat to democracy. The article presented here considers the impeachment of Chief Justice David Brock in the American state of New Hampshire in 2000, identifying the most significant institutional causes and consequences of an event that presented a crisis for the judiciary and the state. It offers a case study for the readers of this journal to reflect not only on the removal of Chief Justice Sereno, but also on the kinds of constitutional issues, such as judicial independence, judicial accountability, and separation of powers in any democracy, as arising from in conflicts between the judiciary and another branch of government.
How to Cite: Steelman, D.C., (2018). JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IN A DEMOCRACY: Reflections on Impeachments in America and the Philippines*. International Journal for Court Administration. 9(2), pp.1–11. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ijca.260
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Published on 17 Jul 2018.

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