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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bush Administration: Not Just Appointing Judges

At the same time that the Bush administration has been working hard to pack the federal bench with ultraconservative judges, some other judges feel that the administration’s rhetoric – aided by allies such as Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) who said that he can see why people react to unpopular decisions with violence against judges – has been making it harder, even dangerous, for them to do their jobs.

Several judges discussed threats they have received for unpopular opinions at a recent American Bar Association panel. One of the judges involved in the Terry Schiavo case received death threats and now uses an alias and keeps looking over his shoulder. Operation Rescue posted his home phone and address on their website.

A New Jersey Supreme Court Justice had his home phone number and address read on a radio show after the court’s same-sex marriage ruling. He received a letter informing him “that the show's prime audience included white supremacists, skinheads and members of both the Aryan Nation and the Ku Klux Klan.” And another judge – who held members of Operation Rescue in contempt for violating a court order prohibiting them from harassing doctors – had “both her office and cell phones … flooded with ‘hate messages.’ [She] said she was placed under 24-hour police protection too, but found out ‘only much later ... that there had been certain kinds of death threats against me.’”

According to the article, “many judges believe the current presidential administration has exacerbated the problem by blaming unpopular rulings on ‘activist judges.’” So the Bush administration’s rhetoric has not only served to put judges on the bench who are hostile to individual rights and liberties, but it places in danger the many judges who are just doing their jobs without an ideological agenda.

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