Friday, May 20, 2005

Judge Tells Politicians To Act Like Civilized Grown-Ups

Judge Joan H. Lefkow, whose husband and mother were murdered, has criticized certain politicians and right-wing religious leaders for "condoning a climate of 'harsh rhetoric' about the judiciary that she said could incite violence and endanger judges' lives."
She called on the panel to "publicly and persistently repudiate gratuitous attacks on the judiciary."

Lefkow was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the need to increase security for court employees. She was referring to a number of statements made by Republican politicians in the wake of the Terri Schiavo controversy subtly hinting that "activist judges" may face a violent fate.

"We need your help in tempering the tone on the debates that concern the independence of the judiciary," Judge Lefkow said. "I have come to know scores of judges during my 22 years as a magistrate judge, bankruptcy judge and district judge. Whether a liberal or conservative, I have never encountered a judge in the federal judiciary who can remotely be described as posing a threat as Mr. [Pat] Robertson said, 'probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings.' "

Mr. Robertson had criticized the federal courts during a recent appearance on the ABC program "This Week," saying, "They're destroying the fabric that holds our nation together." He continued: "Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."