Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Keeping judges safe

Justice is supposed to be blind, but now it is getting personal. The mother and husband of a Chicago judge were murdered; the judge was presiding over the criminal trial of a controversial figure with a large following. In unrelated but eerily similar news, two members of the tribunal to try Saddam Hussein were assassinated today. This is understating the obvious, but it is hard to see how this won't have a chilling effect on judges, if only to make them fear for the safety of themselves and their loved ones whenever they have even remotely controversial cases. It is at least a small comfort, however, to know that most if not all of our judges will continue bravely to do their day-to-day work.

On a tangent, I worry sometimes that someone on the Supreme Court will be assassinated. As far as I know, it has never happened before in the Court's history, but as the Court continues to grow more powerful and take on weighty political issues, there could be ever greater incentive for a fanatic to try to "adjust" the composition of the Court. I can only wonder what the appointment process would be like should that happen. Let's just hope that the Secret Service or whoever it is is keeping close tabs.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's tragic and outragous (to say the least), but judges have been killed before. About ten or 15 years ago, a defendant tried to stage an escape from a federal courthouse in San Fran (I think), and the federal judge (among others) was killed during the breakout. Not too long afterwards, a losing litigant sent a letter bomb that killed an Eleventh Circuit judge.

The truth is that there are crazy people out there, and there just aren't enough secret service people to protect every single judge.

3/02/2005 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger bum said...

Yes, this is tragic. I have heard of prosecutors being executed but rarely judges and their families.

I think one way to curb your suspicions about a Supreme Court Justice being executed in the future is that they proudly keep hidden their political affiliation. While I don't think they neccasarily should be silent about it, at the same time I don't think they should go around to Universities and lambast opposing political views. I say this because I think thats probably what will bring them the most heat. Even though we know that each Justice is of a particular political assuasion we also expect them to be objective. Its hard to see them as objective when they wear the political beliefs on their sleeves.

I don't know if the Justices infuse their viewpoints into their decisions but heaven forbid one of them is killed, its going to be because someone believed they made their decision not because it falls in line w/ constitution but rather that it comes as a result of their own personal beliefs.

3/03/2005 06:54:00 PM  

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