INTRODUCTION: THE LAW AND COURTS
Respect for the law is one of the select group of principles which we have come to regard as essential to the effective and equitable operation of popular government. As a democratic principle it is recognized as binding on both the governed and those who govern.
In fostering this principle the role of the judiciary is crucial, for, in the words of Mr. Justice Arthur T. Vanderbilt:
. . . it is in the courts and not in the legislature that our citizens primarily feel the keen, cutting edge of the law. If they have respect for the work of the courts, their respect for law will survive the shortcomings of every other branch of government; but if they lose their respect for the work of the courts, their respect for law and order will vanish with it to the great detriment of society.1
This is true, whether the judicial branch be technically separated from the other two branches of government, as in the United States; partly fused with them, as in France; or largely fused, as in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The law will be respected as long as it is interpreted and applied within the structures of justice as accepted by the majority of society -- in the long run, if not always in the short run. It is, after all, the expressed will of those who rule society.
But the law, in its procedural as well as its substantive aspects, is essentially made and administered by men whose views and interpretations are buffeted by the winds of change through the years, so that it has become a "truism that the quality of justice____________________