America’s system of government has three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. Congress’ approval ratings are in the toilet. The president’s approval ratings are on the floor next to the toilet. Neither our legislative representatives nor the current administration have proven they are up to the task of fixing the problems that are facing our country.
So it’s refreshing to see members of our judicial branch take a principled stand on behalf of the people. Case in point: U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff. Last fall, Judge Rakoff refused to ratify Citicorp’s proposed $285 million settlement deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission for selling and profiting from mortgage-backed securities it knew were toxic.
In a nutshell, Rakoff denied this proposed deal because it would have allowed important facts about the financial crisis to be suppressed, and admissions of wrongdoing to be avoided. “In any case like this,” he ruled, “which touches on the transparency of financial markets whose gyrations have so depressed our economy and debilitated our lives, there is an overriding public interest in knowing the truth.”
It has somehow evaded our lawmakers and the administration that We The People are still pretty upset with the people who ruined our economy and that we’re still waiting to see at least some of the guilty parties pay a price for what they did. And because the judiciary is, by design, the least partisan and most independent of our three branches of government, it’s no coincidence that they are our last line of defense for seeing justice done.