Each year the Supreme Court issues a Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary. It is of particular interest to the News2A team because it illustrates some poignant reminders about our country’s unique and respectable system of justice.
The report begins with an introduction penned by Chief Justice, John Roberts. Justice Roberts highlights the almost unequaled calling of service and sacrifice required of Supreme Court Justices through the story of Ronald N. Davies.
Born in Crookston, Minnesota, Davies attended high school in North Dakota, college at the University of North Dakota, and then law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. After college he returned home to start a law practice. In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him to the District Court and barely two years into his federal judicial career he was selected for a special assignment in the Eastern District of the U.S. Court of Arkansas.
That assignment turned out to be nothing less than ruling in a court case to order and enforce the integration and desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock. The decision, along with public sentiment that opposed integration, gathered national attention. It required mobilizing 10,000 Arkansas National Guard members and 1,200 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division.
Justice Roberts called attention to Davies’ dedication to the law. He wrote, “Judge Davies missed his own son’s wedding to see through his charge to follow the law.”
Roberts further acknowledges the tireless efforts of our many judicial officers around the country. “We have roughly 2,000 federal judicial officers—Circuit Judges, District Judges, Magistrate Judges, Bankruptcy Judges, and more—who quietly, diligently, and faithfully discharge their duties every day of the year. Each of them makes sacrifices for a career in public service.”
In order for our justice system to function fairly — to treat all equally under the law and render objective, impartial decisions, — it’s critical that our judges be free from fear, coercion and threat of their own safety. Our founding fathers understood this and implemented lifetime appointments for our highest level of judicial service. And our Justices are protected by many levels of law enforcement for this very reason.
Chief Justice Roberts memorializes the laudable example set by Judge Davies. “But Judge Davies was physically threatened for following the law. His wife feared for his safety. The judge was uncowed, and happily so were others who stuck up for the rule of law…”
The year may have changed, but the events are not altogether foreign to us in 2023. Last year we saw Supreme Court Justices threatened for their very lives for following the law. Sadly a district judge in New Jersey experienced the loss of her son when he opened the door at their home and was murdered — an attack that was intended for the judge herself.
Our judicial system is only as strong as our collective respect for the rule of law. The impartiality of our judicial servants is ensured only by their honor bound moral code and their physical security and welfare.
Another very important point that stands out in the Year-End Report is just how rare it is for any legal case to actually be heard by the Supreme Court. This should be of particular interest to the gun rights and Second Amendment community in New Jersey.
According to the report, there were a total of 4,900 cases filed in the Supreme Court in 2021. During that term, 70 cases were argued and 63 were disposed of in 58 signed opinions. Our federal judicial system has a finite capacity to hear cases, one which far exceeds the number of cases by an order of magnitude. It is statistically exceedingly rare for any case to advance through the Federal District Courts and Federal Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.
The Second Amendment community should be exceedingly grateful that we are armed with the ground-breaking decision issued in Bruen, affirming and protecting our Second Amendment rights. Further, there are now additional cases that share a trajectory towards an imminent Supreme Court decision. The New York carry-killer lawsuit is the first time that the right to keep and bear arms has made its ways back to the court since Bruen. This is incredibly significant.
Moreover, we should be grateful for the unique and time-honored system of justice we enjoy in this country that was set up through the wisdom and incredibly deep understanding of human nature possessed by our founding fathers.