Senator Cornyn Links Violence, Judges’ ‘Political Decisions’
Senator links violence, judges’ ‘political decisions’ (Houston Chronicle)
In an eyebrow-raising speech on the Senate floor Monday, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn suggested a connection between “political decisions” by some judges and incidents of courthouse violence across the nation. The remarks by Republican Cornyn, a former justice on the Texas Supreme Court, prompted immediate criticism from Democrats.
Cornyn, citing recent cases of violence against judges, said he wondered “whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people … engage in violence.” The violence is unjustified, Cornyn said, but is “a concern that I have that I wanted to share.”
Cornyn, who also served as a district judge in San Antonio, delivered a blistering critique of the U.S. Supreme Court. The court has taken on the role of “policymaker” rather than enforcer of laws and had “generated a lack of respect for judges generally,” he said.
Sen. John Cornyn said yesterday that recent examples of courthouse violence may be linked to public anger over judges who make politically charged decisions without being held accountable. In a Senate floor speech in which he sharply criticized a recent Supreme Court ruling on the death penalty, Cornyn (R-Tex.) — a former Texas Supreme Court justice and member of the Judiciary Committee — said Americans are growing increasingly frustrated by what he describes as activist jurists. “It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions,” he said. Sometimes, he said, “the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people.”
Cornyn continued: “I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have.”
In a recent New York Times article, John Kane, a senior judge in the U.S. District Court for Colorado, wrote: “Since 1970, 10 state and federal judges have been murdered, seven of them in job-related incidents. Those who threaten judges are almost always disturbed individuals seeking revenge. . . . Of the three federal judges killed in the last quarter-century, all were killed by men disgruntled with their treatment from the federal judicial system.”
One would think this axiomatic rather than controversial. Violence is often an expression of frustration. That the controversial decisions might engender violence is hardly surprising.
via Taegan Goddard
Update: Jon Henke concurs.