An African-American federal judge from Mississippi gave a talk at the University of Virginia Law School strongly criticizing Donald Trump for his frequent attacks on the independence of the judiciary, his record of nominating judges opposed to equality and his repudiation of basic civil rights for blacks, women and other minorities.
In a highly unusual public rebuke against President Donald Trump by a sitting member of the federal judiciary, US District Judge Carlton Reeves delivered a speech Thursday calling the Trump administration a “great assault on our judiciary” and comparing the president’s criticism of the judiciary to tactics used by the Ku Klux Klan and segregationists…
“When politicians attack courts as ‘dangerous,’ ‘political,’ and guilty of ‘egregious overreach,’ you can hear the Klan’s lawyers, assailing officers of the court across the South. When leaders chastise people for merely ‘us[ing] the courts,’ you can hear the Citizens Council, hammering up the names of black petitioners in Yazoo City, [Mississippi],” Reeves said, quoting Trump. “When the powerful accuse courts of ‘open[ing] up our country to potential terrorists,’ you can hear the Southern Manifesto’s authors, smearing the judiciary for simply upholding the rights of black folk. When lawmakers say ‘we should get rid of judges,’ you can hear segregationist senators, writing bills to strip courts of their power.”…He called on other judges to “do more to defend our bench.”
“Judges, politicians, and citizens alike must denounce attacks that undermine our ability to do justice. It is not enough for judges, seeing race-based attacks on their brethren, to say they are merely ‘disheartened,’ or to simply affirm their nonpartisan status,” Reeves said, citing responses by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., respectively, to comments by Trump.
There is so much more in the speech, which you can read here. I fully agree with him the judiciary has to stop being a punching bag and start to punch back. And yes, I’ve heard all the arguments about the need for the courts to stay apolitical, but whatever danger there is in that is coming from not only Trump, but from Republican attacks on the courts going back several decades. Every time a ruling comes down that they don’t like, they make noise about stripping the courts of their authority to hear cases of that type (LGBT rights, reproductive rights, etc). And it’s always in an attempt to roll back the clock on civil rights. Judges need to start fighting back and I hope this judge’s very public response inspires others to do the same.