Government Attacks on Judiciary in the USA

Sept. 20, 2019 Weekly Graphs

On September 24, 1789 the First United States Congress adopted the Judiciary Act, establishing the US federal judiciary, which consists of district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court. To celebrate the anniversary of the Judiciary Act of 1789, we use V-Dem’s Country Graph tool to illustrate government attacks on judiciary in the USA. 

Attacks on the judiciary's integrity can include claims that it is corrupt, incompetent or that decisions were politically motivated. They can take various forms, such as prepared statements reported by the media, press conferences, interviews, and stump speeches. 

The graph illustrates a rapid growth of the government attacks on judiciary since 2011. In 2018, the level of attacks has reached the lowest point (2.68) in the US modern history. Donald Trump has shown a disturbing tendency of attacking courts and judges for decisions he disagrees with during his presidential campaign and his actual presidency. In November 2018 he openly criticized the asylum ruling made by Judge Jon Tigar of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In his Twitter account, he claimed that Tigar is “an Obama judge,” and added that the Ninth Circuit is “really something we have to take a look at because it’s not fair”.  


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