chapter  4
The Environmental Context: Social and Political Factors
Pages 30

Court administration occurs in an environment. Part of that environment is external, fashioned by social and political forces that often are beyond a court's control. At both the federal and state levels, government divides into three separate, mostly independent, but also interdependent branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The concept of separation of powers supports the independence of each branch of government within its assigned sphere. In the meantime, it makes the courts' assigned role of social stabilizer difficult to achieve and presents challenges to those responsible for court administration. Nonetheless, the political attacks on courts referenced in this chapter, particularly on the national stage, demean courts' status and the respect citizens accord both the institution and the process used. Separation of powers is one of our country's most important contributions to political theory and, in the 20th century, to the advances in judicial and court administration.