The Rule of Law – what does it mean? It means judges are here to tell us what the law is, not what it should be, or what they want it to be. It means laws apply equally to all of us. People are not favored because of their position in government or as a celebrity. Causes are not favored merely because they can draw a crowd to march on the Capitol or because they have paid a former attorney general to speak for them.
The Rule of Law applies to everyone. Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury understands this and has explained very well the sound factual and legal reasoning behind his recent ruling in the #INVESTinED case criticized by people who ought to know better.
We both strenuously support education reform, our public schools, and the brave teachers who work so very hard to teach our children. (One of us is married to a lifetime, retired educator, and the other has a much beloved mother-in-law, sister-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law who are or were dedicated and talented teachers). But one very important, critical issue – education – cannot be used to fuel retribution against members of our judiciary for just doing their jobs.
Our way of life depends on an independent judiciary free to cast aside politics and political retribution in favor of adherence to the law by which we are all bound. Judges may not comment publicly on cases before them. It is our job, as attorneys and citizens, to say something in the name of justice or we will have none. One need only look at the current criticisms of Congress by all sides to see what happens when important decisions are made, not based on what is fair, but what is perceived as the currently blowing political winds for each decision-maker.
In a fair and just society, we do not even consider removing judges who have received perfect scores in ratings made for that purpose. We remove judges who – everyone can agree – are unfit to serve. When those calling for Judge Coury’s figurative head replace the Rule of Law, no one will be treated fairly or equally under government by tweet. We will all fall victim to the ever increasing “scarlet hashtag.”
Judge Coury, like so many of our dedicated jurists, is exceptionally talented, fair, balanced, apolitical and a firm defender of the Rule of Law and equal justice. We have appeared before him, and many others who applied and volunteered to leave lucrative law practices and instead help preserve the Constitution and Rule of Law for future generations. We do not always prevail, but we respect that our judiciary’s dedication to impartial and equal justice. We do not deserve them, just as we do not deserve our woefully underpaid and over-worked educators. We do, however, have to treat them all with respect and reverence. Neither deserves to lose their jobs for doing them well.
Neither our judges nor our educators deserve to be victimized by a politicized struggle. Do not retaliate against our judiciary for doing its job, and let’s get our collective act together and take care of our educators. They deserve better. We all do.
Craig A. Morgan and Gregory W. Falls are attorneys based in Phoenix.