Statement in Support of an Independent Federal Judiciary

Statement in Support of an Independent Federal Judiciary

Statement in Support of an Independent Federal Judiciary

Recently, members of the federal judiciary, particularly those presiding over cases involving highly charged social issues, have been subjected to virulent attacks by certain religious and political leaders. In some cases, these critics have gone so far as to call for the removal of judges simply because they disagree with opinions the judges have issued, and in a few instances they have utilized rhetoric that verges on the condoning of violence. They have also introduced legislation to deny courts jurisdiction and make it an impeachable offense for judges to rule on certain church-state issues, and some have called for an Inspector General for the Federal Judiciary and for procedures to punish judges for conduct not falling within the category of impeachable offenses. It is clear that such efforts are designed to intimidate federal judges from exercising their independent judicial judgment in uprightly and impartially interpreting and applying the law to the parties before them.

While judges, like other public officials, are not immune from scrutiny and criticism, the notion of retaliating against or otherwise punishing judges on the basis of disagreement with their decisions is profoundly troubling. An independent federal judiciary, free from political pressures and undue oversight by other branches of government, is not just essential to the maintenance of our civil and political liberties, but is the hallmark of a free society. Because judges are not in a position to defend themselves against such attacks, it behooves a responsible citizenry to speak out when judicial independence is under assault.

The American Jewish Committee therefore decries these recent attempts to intimidate and undermine the independence of the judiciary, and calls upon like-minded Americans of every faith and stripe to join us in denouncing such tactics.


Adopted by the Board of Governors on September 19, 2005.Date: 9/19/2005 12:00:00 AM