The Judicial Wing of Government
Two points on an article about the RI judiciary’s declining to answer the governor’s request for further budget cuts:
Overall, the courts brought in $25.2 million in fines in 2009, he said, $23 million of which went into the state’s general fund.
This is entirely the wrong mindset for the judiciary. It isn’t meant to be a revenue-garnering function, and making it such grievously distorts its role as a guarantor of justice.
Unlike other state agencies, the judiciary does not answer to the governor regarding budget matters. The General Assembly, at the urging of then-Chief Justice Frank J. Williams, five years ago passed a last-minute budget article that dictated that the governor must pass along the judiciary’s budget request to the state lawmakers without changes.
This factor also does grievous harm to the judiciary’s function in Rhode Island government. Budgeting is an executive function (remember separation of powers?), which a representative democracy prudently places in the hands of an elected official.