Re: “Be thankful for the independent judiciary” [Nov. 30, Opinion]:

We all need to be reminded that judges have a special role in a society committed to the rule of law. That role is to resolve conflicts between individuals according to principles convincingly rooted in a developing pattern of statutes, past decisions and public expectations. Only in that way can we capture one important benefit of the rule of law — predictable, clear and public rules.

True, some appointing authorities select judges they hope will go beyond this function to impose their own policy views. But such judges are exceptions. The best judges understand the role of the judicial branch — when reviewing governmental action, that role is not to advance new policies but to identify and honor the developed guardrails that constrain executive and legislative overreaches.

William R. Andersen, Seattle, Judson Falknor Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Washington Law School