I am a lawyer, a law professor, and a tribal judge. Consequently, I am very interested in and concerned about the legal profession, the rule of law in our society and in American Indian societies, and the value of courts to help balance decision making and the operations of the federal and tribal executive and legislative branches.
The role of the courts as envisioned by our Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution, and by tribal communities in tribal constitutions and the organization of tribal governments, is to provide a forum and mechanism for citizens to seek redress against other citizens and to seek redress and protection from their own governments.
As human institutions, governments suffer from all the human faults, petty jealousies, and problems that we all have. Thus, we created court systems to perform, as best as possible, the role of dispute resolution; to try to correct and address such human problems and to make our society and life as useful and as productive as possible.
The New York Times printed an opinion piece today, “Thank the Courts,” that demonstrates the role federal courts are playing in the Guantanamo detainee cases, and argues that they are in essence helping the federal legislative and executive branches out of a very difficult situation. Check out the full article.