From a Newsweek press release [via Raw Story]: “SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR INVITED SOME HOUSE REPUBLICANS TO PRIVATE LUNCHES AT THE COURT IN AN ATTEMPT TO QUELL TENSIONS” … More disturbing in the Newsweek piece are the stories of worried judges now on constant alert:

“‘When I go home I go out and cut the grass and wash my car,’ says one federal judge who did not wish to be named. ‘Anyone who wants to do harm to me can.’” More below …

In an attempt to quell tensions between some members of Congress and federal judges, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor invited a handful of House Republicans to a private lunch at the court several months ago, reports Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Debra Rosenberg …

… Because the justice could not talk about any specific cases-or even controversial issues that might come before her-the conversation had its limits. “We didn’t quite get to the meat of our discussion,” [Iowa Rep. Steve King] tells Newsweek in the April 25 issue …

The unusual private sessions suggest that concern over the rising tide of anti-judge rhetoric has rocked even the Supreme Court. Though judges have been dragged into the culture wars before, lately the animosity-and a range of new efforts to curb judicial power-have reached fever pitch, Rosenberg reports. Now some judges are requesting increased security and canceling public appearances. In a speech earlier this month at Goucher College, O’Connor herself said she was surprised at all the violent threats she received. “I don’t think the harsh rhetoric helps,” she told the crowd. “I think it energizes people who are a little off base to take actions that maybe they wouldn’t otherwise take.”

Judges are used to weathering criticism quietly, but this round of attacks has sparked a broader sense of anxiety, reports Rosenberg. Last week, Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas asked Congress for money to add 11 police officers-including one new officer just to assess threats against the justices. In Florida, where the state’s Supreme Court was besieged with angry phone calls during the Terri Schiavo case, Justice Peggy Quince cancelled a long-planned speech after she learned it would be televised. “When I go home I go out and cut the grass and wash my car,” says one federal judge who did not wish to be named. “Anyone who wants to do harm to me can.”

No doubt “Justice Sunday” — next Sunday — will increase judges’ levels of anxiety. It’s all truly outrageous and — as Steven D says — unAmerican.

Raw Story

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