The Politics of Restraint


In The Politics of Restraint former Vermont Chief Justice Jeff Amestoy raises novel but fundamental questions about the meaning and practice of judicial leadership today. He argues that judicial leadership includes a non-partisan but still ultimately political component in which the goal is "to strengthen the democratic polity by capitalizing on the unique attributes of state judicial leaders in the American democratic experience."  Such  judicial leaders understand their role as extending beyond protecting and enhancing the budgetary and other needs of the state courts. Rather, using a voice that is both restrained but persistent, judicial leaders should articulate to the public the values the judiciary and democratic society represent and derive authority on that basis.  

Jeff Amestoy was Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court from 1997-2004 and Attorney General of Vermont from 1985-1997. He is a fellow at the Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

The Executive Session develops and answers questions that U.S. state courts will face in the foreseeable future, attempting to clarify what leaders of state courts can and should do to distinguish their role in our system of democratic governance.