Trump’s attacks on judges are an ‘attack on the rule of law’ in the U.S., says former top U.S. Marshals Service official

CNN reports: Threats against more than one judge involved in legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration have prompted federal and local law enforcement agencies to temporarily increase security protection for some of them, according to law enforcement officials.

CNN did not learn how specific the threats were, but law enforcement agencies treated them seriously and out of an abundance of caution, the US Marshals Service and local police increased patrols and protective officers to provide security for some of the judges, the officials said.

A spokesperson from the US Marshals Service declined to comment directly on the threats but said that while “we do not discuss our specific security measures, we continuously review the security measures in place for all federal judges and take appropriate steps to provide additional protection when it is warranted.”

The threats come as Trump continues his verbal criticisms of judges — something that has drawn concern from former law enforcement officials and others who fear that public officials should not target a specific judge, and instead base their criticism more broadly on a court’s ruling.

Security experts say that while Trump’s comments were clearly not meant to put the judges’ safety at risk, in general, public officials should avoid comments against a specific judge so as not to spur an unhappy litigant.

“Federal judges are constantly under some kind of threat around the country, and the US Marshals investigate hundreds of threats every year on the federal judiciary,” said Arthur D. Roderick, who is a retired assistant director for investigations for the US Marshals.

“Anybody that has looked at what the US Marshals do has got to realize that an attack on any judge is an attack on the rule of law of the United States,” he said, noting that the President’s sister is a federal judge and the President should be familiar with threats against judges. [Continue reading…]

While testifying in Congress a few days ago, the new Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly expressed a conceit commonplace among military and intelligence officials who promote the myth that liberty in a democracy is a luxury provided by the strongmen who guard the borders.

NPR reported:

Kelly seemed to suggest judges might be too isolated to rule properly on the issue [of the Muslim ban]. He said he “had nothing but respect for judges,” but “in their world it’s a very academic, very almost in a vacuum discussion.”

And Kelly added, “Of course, in their court rooms, they’re protected by people like me.”

It is Kelly himself who seems to have a grossly naive view of the judicial system.

We live in a time when threats against judges and acts of violence in courthouses and courtrooms are occurring throughout the country with greater frequency than ever before. By their very nature, courthouse operations entail a heightened degree of risk. Every working day courthouses are visited by a large number of citizens, many of whom may be disgruntled and angry to the point of becoming lawbreakers. Individuals and groups have committed acts of violence in courthouses, often attempts to murder judicial officials, escape from custody, and disrupt or delay proceedings. Moreover, courthouses, which represent the ideals of democracy in American society, have become symbolic targets for antigovernment extremists and terrorists (domestic and international).

One only has to spend a little time immersed in social media to see how prevalent courthouse violence has become. Within a matter of minutes we can view videos of a considerable number of violent incidents that have taken place in courtrooms and courthouses across the country. Most of what we see in these videos involves, to one extent or another, unruly prisoners, disgruntled litigants, and upset family members. In addition to shootings, bombings, and arson attacks, there have been knifings, assaults, failed bombing attempts, suicides, bomb plots, murder-for-hire conspiracies, and much more.

That’s a recent assessment from the National Center for State Courts — not a piece of alarmist tabloid reporting.

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