Press Release

House Judiciary Committee Member Howard Berman, Judge Danny Boggs and Yale Law Professor Judith Resnik Discuss Judicial Independence


The American Academy of Arts and Sciences will hold a meeting at the Library of Congress on "Congress and the Courts: Independence of the Federal Judiciary" on Thursday, May 15, 2003. How independent is the federal judiciary from the legislative branch of government? The event will feature speakers House Judiciary Committee member Howard Berman (D-California), Danny J. Boggs (U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit) and Judith Resnik (Yale University School of Law), moderator Abner J. Mikva (University of Chicago Law School), panelists Jesse Choper,Robert C. Post, and Nelson W. Polsby (all, UC Berkeley), and Linda Greenhouse (The New York Times) discussing this question.

Judicial independence signifies that judges are free to decide cases fairly and impartially, protected from outside pressures and special interests. Congress, however, has the authority to determine the scope and range of judicial jurisdiction, and the Senate must confirm the appointment of all nominees to the federal bench. Congress also has the "power of the purse" in overseeing the federal court system. Participants at the May 15th meeting will consider the increasing tension between these forms of democratic supervision and judicial independence.

The American Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." Drawing on the expertise of its 3,700 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members, the Academy conducts innovative, non-partisan studies on U.S. institutions, security, the humanities, and education.


Howard Berman, (D-California) – Howard Berman began his career in public service as a VISTA volunteer and as a labor relations lawyer. In 1973, he was elected to the California State Assembly, where he served until 1982, when he was elected to Congress. Berman is a senior member of the House Judiciary and International Relations committees. As Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, Berman plays a key role in shaping copyright, trademark, and patent laws. During the 108th Congress, he will be involved with matters relating to the federal courts, such as the creation of new judgeships and privacy concerns raised by Web access to court documents.

Abner J. Mikva, Visiting Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School – Abner J. Mikva served as White House Counsel from 1994 to 1995. Prior to his appointment, he served as Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before coming to the bench, he was elected to Congress for five terms, representing portions of Chicago and its suburbs. In Congress, he served on both the Ways and Means Committee and the Judiciary Committee. He also served five consecutive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Danny J. Boggs, Judge, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Cincinnati, Ohio – The Honorable Danny J. Boggs has been a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit since his appointment by President Reagan in 1986. Judge Boggs had a distinguished career in both private practice and government service before his appointment to the court. His served as the Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States (1973-75), Assistant Director of the White House Office of Policy Development (1982-83), and Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Energy (1983-86).

Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School – Judith Resnik teaches procedure, federal courts, feminist theory, and large-scale litigation at Yale Law School. Prior to joining Yale, she was the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law at the University of Southern California Law Center. She currently chairs the Section on Procedure of the American Association of Law Schools and has been a member of the Ninth Circuit Gender Bias Task Force. She has testified many times before the subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the Senate's role in the nomination process of federal judges.

Thursday, May 15th, 5:30 p.m.

Mumford Room, James Madison Memorial Building, The Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E. Washington, D.C.




The Independence of the Judiciary

Jesse Herbert Choper and Robert Charles Post