Religious Right Threatens Federal Judges

A panel of judges at the American Bar Association’s meeting in San Francisco last week reported on threats to judges for crossing the religious right:

More than two years after enraging right-wing groups by ordering Terry Schiavo’s feeding tube removed, George Greer still peers over his shoulder nervously at times…

Two years ago, he said, someone in the Bay Area threatened to kill him over his decision to end life support for the brain-damaged Schiavo. And even though that person was prosecuted and jailed, Greer said, he’s taking no chances.

“It is a little unnerving,” he said. “I still can’t see a strange car come down my street without wondering [who’s behind the steering wheel].”

Greer was one of four current or former judges who appeared in a 90-minute seminar in Moscone Center West to describe how their lives were affected by their rulings in high-profile cases involving hot-button issues.

Besides Greer, there was New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto, who 10 months ago participated in a ruling saying gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights as married couples, but stopped short of approving same-sex marriage.

Eileen O’Neill, a former Texas judge who in 1993 held Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry and other anti-abortion activists in contempt for violating an order directing them to quit harassing several Houston-area doctors, was on the panel. And so was former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, kicked off the bench by voters in 1986 along with two other justices for reversing death sentences.

All four spoke about the consequences of their actions, but stood firmly behind them, while fretting somewhat about the political and social pressures facing judges these days. Unstated, but hovering in the ether, was the fact that many judges believe the current presidential administration has exacerbated the problem by blaming unpopular rulings on “activist judges.”
“It’s not easy being a judge, but one of the things we uphold is the Constitution,” Philadelphia-based U.S. District Judge Berle Schiller, chairman of the National Conference of Federal Trial Judges, told the crowd at the start of Friday’s seminar. “And all these [four] jurists have been willing to stand up for the Constitution.”

At their own risk, one might add.

Soon after the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its ruling on same-sex marriage — which didn’t fully appease parties on either side — Rivera-Soto said he got a letter from a radio talk-show host announcing that his home address and phone number had been broadcast. The letter writer also advised the justice that the show’s prime audience included white supremacists, skinheads and members of both the Aryan Nation and the Ku Klux Klan.

“I hope you have a good life,” Rivera-Soto quoted from the letter. “However long that lasts now that people know how to find you.”

Greer talked about he and his wife had to be placed under 24-hour watch after Operation Rescue posted their home address and phone number on its Web site. All of their mail was checked by authorities and on one occasion dead flowers were delivered to their condominium with a note reading, “No Food, No Water” — a reference to Schiavo.

“It got to the point,” Greer said, “that we felt a little trapped in our apartment.”

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  1. 1
    Rob Hruska says:

    Animal Rights Leader Dr. Jerry Vlasak Endorses Murder Of Scientists In U.S. Senate Testimony

    Leftist Violence Mars GOP Convention in New York City

    After that, maybe you can look up how many people the Weather Underground and Black Panthers murdered in the 60’s. Leftists are way ahead of Rightists in America when it comes to political violence.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    Again you turn into partisan pot shots rather than considering principles.

    Advocating violence against those you disagree with is wrong regardless of whether it comes from the left or the right. I’ve had posts here criticizing people on the left for advocating violence.

    While it is hardly relevant, you are also wrong that leftists are way ahead of rightests in terms of politcal violence. There really is no comparison when you consider the KKK and other right wing hate groups.

  3. 3
    edward cropper says:

    To put the KKK in with right-wing groups is reaching to say the least. The KKK has never been anything but a racist hate group. They would go to bed with any political party that would give them a wink. Ask Robert Byrd.
    But even Byrd who is a certified JOKE doesn’t tar the Democrats. Let’s be honest please. Left wingers are not the “Communists” often portrayed by the right, nor are Right Wingers the “Fascists” often portrayed by the Left.
    There are plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike both sides on occasions without sinking to imbecilic distortions.

  4. 4
    jrg says:

    “Leftists are way ahead of Rightists in America when it comes to political violence.”

    Before the September 11, 2001 attacks, Oklahoma City was the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil. Timothy McVeigh, the terrorist that set off the bomb, was an anti-government right winger angered by the Clinton admin’s handling of Waco.

    There have been a number of right-wing terror attacks against Americans since Oklahoma City, including abortion clinic bombings, bombings of gay bars, and the Olympic park bombing in 1996.

    It’s pretty telling that you resort to citing violence in the 1960’s and fringe animal rights activists, particularly since modern, mainstream right-wing pundits like Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly have both encouraged political violence (assassinating judges and blowing up the Coit tower in San Fran).

    Here is a list of terrorist incidents in the United States:


  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    I don’t think putting the KKK, along with other racist groups is reaching at all. I recognize that the KKK and ohter far right groups might have nothing to do with more moderate conservatives, but similarly Communists, the Weather Underground, and Black Panthers have nothing to do with me or my beliefs.

    It doesn’t mean much to say that they would get into bed with either party. Many of the southern Democrats were pretty conservative.

  6. 6
    C. A. Johnson says:

    I am a Conservative and a Christian, but it shames me to be associated with people who advocate killing judges, doctors, politicians and anyone who doesn’t agree with their Extreme Right views. The biggest problem in this country is undereducated religious fanatics who believe in a literal reading of the Bible and seem to believe that their English translation was written by the finger of God. They know nothing of Jewish literary tradition, the history of their own religion or history in general for that matter. In short, they’re a bunch of ignorant hicks who ought to be laughed out of town. Jesus weeps.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    “The biggest problem in this country is undereducated religious fanatics who believe in a literal reading of the Bible and seem to believe that their English translation was written by the finger of God.”

    That is definately a problem. On top of that, they tend to cherry pick portions of the Bible to support certain beliefs and ignore other portions.

  8. 8
    C. A. Johnson says:

    “On top of that, they tend to cherry pick portions of the Bible to support certain beliefs and ignore other portions.”

    Well said Ron. That’s certainly true, not only of them, but also of other beliefs. Kurt Vonnegut makes the point in “Man Without A Country” that Marx’s most famous statement, “Religion is the opiate of the people”, was simply a comment and not a dictum.

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