Introduction to the Federal Judiciary

The nature of judging and why judging is part of governing.

Governing consists of three fundamental activities:  Making laws for a particular group (legislative), carrying out or applying laws (executive), and determining whether laws have been violated (judicial).   All three activities—legislative, executive, and judicial—can be done by one person, by a few persons, or by many persons.   In the governance of a family, for example, it is not unusual for the same person to make the rules for the household, implement those rules, and decide whether the rules have been broken.   

The three activities of governance were well known to the ancients and written upon extensively, as in Aristotle’s treatise, The Politics.  Ancient writers viewed human being as “polis” animals, which is to say that it is their nature to live together in communities that require  various forms and levels of governance.  Ancient writers observed that governing  requires the activities of making laws, applying the laws, and judging whether laws have been violated, and they theorized about how each activity could be done well (and by whom) in the quest for good governance.