What exactly does it mean to “celebrate and advance the rule of law,” this Law Day, especially given what we have all experienced and endured this past year? There are a number of responses available, all of them real and raw and poignant and relevant to each of us. However, has there ever been a more im-portant and overriding principle, especially in our country’s more recent history, than the need for an independent judiciary? I have had more than one person comment to me this past year how thankful they are that judges, especially our judges in Nebraska, are not political and are an independent branch of govern-ment.

The Court of Appeals has been engaged in our “College Campus Initiative” since 2012. This fall we will hear cases at Wayne St. College, which is one of the few colleges in the state we have yet to visit. Invariably, the local high school and college students always want to know what makes the judiciary different than the other two branches of government? We tell them it is because we are independent and free from political influence. I love telling them that not only can I not ethi-cally contribute money to a political campaign, I can’t even place a political sign in my front yard.

So, this year especially, I give thanks and celebrate our independent judicial branch of government and the rule of law.

Mike Pirtle

Chief Judge, Nebraska Court of Appeals


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