Photo: NYLJ/Rick Kopstein

Essay contest winner Christopher Llego, a junior at Sheepshead Bay High School, poses yesterday with, from left, Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix, administrative judge for civil matters in Brooklyn; Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman; Justice Robert Miller of the Appellate Division, Second Department; and Judge Barry Kamins, administrative judge, New York City Criminal Court. The contest is co-sponsored by the New York City Bar, the Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York and the New York Law Journal.

The judicial branch of the U.S. government has the responsibility of upholding the laws of our country and maintaining order. The courts have the obligation of punishing individuals who violate these laws and must ensure fairness and equality with these punishments, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. The judicial branch must retain its impartiality and unbiased nature, otherwise our court system would promote corruption and would diminish the idea of a fair and equal political system.

By its very definition, judicial independence means “that judges are free to decide cases fairly and impartially, relying only on the facts and the law. It means that judges are protected from political pressure, legislative pressure, special interest pressure, media pressure, public pressure, financial pressure, or even personal pressure” (The Florida Bar).

This idea, of keeping our judicial branch of government separate and impartial to public opinion creates more freedom for our government. It allows our government to have the ability to maintain a fair system of justice, while not being pressured to make any hasty decisions based on the opinions of the public. Justice is defined as “the fair and proper administration of laws.”

The United States of America runs on a democratic government, which is divided into three branches of government. The judicial branch of our government has the civil obligation to provide its people with a political system that remains unbiased and indifferent to the prejudice of politicians and the public.

The idea of the “Independence of the Judiciary” states that the judicial branch of government should be kept separate from the other two branches, as well as certain political parties. Such separation would diminish any pressure that judges would feel from the public or political parties. Multiple crimes are committed on a daily basis, and it is the job of the courts to continuously adapt to the ever-changing gravities of crimes that occur in our country.

Sometimes judges need to make unpopular decisions, such as rendering an unfavorable consequence, and the judicial branch must refrain from becoming biased due to the opinions of the public. Judges are humans, and pressure on the courts to move toward a certain direction could be detrimental to the freedom and equality that the government has promised for our country. Stability can only be achieved through the means of an unbiased and politically just court system.

Recently, certain states have chosen to make same-sex marriage legal. For years, this union between two individuals of the same sex has been deemed as a highly controversial issue. The government had the obligation to look at the facts and to see how this type of marriage would affect their people.

Public opinion on this controversy had been published in multiple forms of media over a span of several years. Individuals had posted their distaste for this issue either through newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media networks, etc. The government had to remain impartial to the ideas of the public when making their decision to make same-sex marriage legal.

Such a circumstance provides a clear example of why our judicial branch of government should remain impartial to the pressures of the public opinion. This issue is divided between pro- and anti-homosexual marriage, yet the governments of several states, most recently, New York, have allowed for the marriage between two individuals of the same gender.

The government made their decision; unbiased to the complaints of the people. Influences must be disregarded in the decisions that our government makes, though, our government must still remain just and equal. The United States government was developed for the safety and equality of its people, and must retain that idea throughout its many decisions.

Christopher Llego is a junior at Sheepshead Bay High School.