As a separate branch of government, the judiciary is independent of the other two branches, subject only to the checks and balances defined in the constitution. An independent federal judiciary is considered essential to ensure fairness and equal justice for all citizens.
The constitution promotes judicial independence in two major ways :
Federal judges are appointed for life and they can be Removed from office only through impeachment And Conviction by congress of "treason, bribery or other High crimes and misdemeanors "
The constitution provides that the compensation of Federal judes " shall not be diminished during their Continuance in office "which means that neither The president nor congress can reduce the salary Of federal judges
These two protections help an independent Judiciary to decide cases free from popular passion and political influence.
Although the judiciary was envisioned by the writers of the constitution to be a branch insulated from political pressures and popular opinion, the process of selecting judges has become highly political. Supreme Court currently has nine justices, a number set by law.
Lower federal courts, including their jurisdictions, number of judges and budgets are established by congress. All federal judges require confirmation by the senate in order to take office permanently. The president, however, may appoint judges for a temporary term while the congress is not in session.
Federal magistrates, who perform judicial activities such as setting bail, issuing warrants and conducting hearings for minors offenses are appointed to eight- year terms by Federal District Court judges.