Why do we love Judge Judy? Sheindlin hears and protects the reasonable American’s notion of accountability and justice. It doesn’t matter that she isn’t actually running a small claims court: she’s managing arbitration on the same issues. Judge Judy proves courts can right wrongs and guarantee future protections, perhaps the most basic foundation of an organized society. That means Judith Sheindlin plays a role in shaping and upholding our social contract.
Witnessing successful legal proceedings, even in a simulated small claims setting, reassures citizens: offenders will be punished; victims will be compensated. Judge Judy might not be the most powerful judge in America, but she’s surely the most popular and the best paid—for good reason.