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Nomination Watch: O’Connor and Ginsburg on threats to judicial independence

March 17, 2006

Nomination Watch: O’Connor and Ginsburg on threats to judicial independence
O’Connor and Ginsburg on threats to judicial independence

As reported last week by National Public Radio but almost no other U.S. press, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor gave a blistering speech on March 9 in which she decried attacks on the judiciary by conservative leaders, with clear references (though not by name) to former House Speaker Tom DeLay, who has attacked the courts for rulings on abortion, prayer and the Terry Schiavo case, and Senator John Cornyn, who said courthouse violence may be linked to unpopular rulings by “unaccountable? judges.
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Now here’s the latest. In today’s Washington Post story, the Congressional author of one of the proposals Justice Ginsburg referred to, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla), said that while he didn’t want to compromise the safety of any public official, “there are some justices that get awful thin skins when they get their black robes on, and when they talk about judicial independence, they sometimes mean no one should be able to criticize them.”

Justice Ginsburg has an “awful thin skin” because she commented in passing, in a little-notice speech a year later, that she had been the target of a death threat? Perhaps even more sobering than the O’Connor and Ginsburg warnings — and the revelation of the death threat — is the defiant attitude of a member of Congress. It looks like attacks on judicial independence are not going away any time soon.

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