With security threats to Supreme Court justices still fresh in his mind, Chief Justice John Roberts on Saturday praised programs that protect judges, saying “we have to support judges by keeping them safe.”
Roberts and other conservative Supreme Court justices were thesome in their homes, after the of the decision of the court which finally constitutional protection for abortion. Justice Samuel Alito said the leak made conservative justices “targets for assassination.” And in June, a man carrying a gun, a knife and a zipper was near Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s home after threatening to kill the judge whose vote was key to overturning Roe v. Wade.
Roberts, writing in an annual year-end report on the federal judiciary, did not specifically mention the abortion decision, but the case and the reaction to it were clearly on his mind.
“Judicial opinions speak for themselves, and there is no obligation in our free country to agree with them. Indeed, our judgments often disagree—sometimes strongly—with the opinions of our colleagues, and we explain why in public writings on the cases before us. us,” Roberts wrote.
Polls since the abortion decision show public confidence in the court at historic lows. And two of Roberts’ liberal colleagues who dissented in the abortion case, Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, said the courtabout overturning precedent and the appearance of a politician.
After the leak and the threat to Cavanaugh, lawmakersincreasing security protections for judges and their families. Separately, in December, lawmakers passed legislation protecting the personal information of federal judges, including their addresses.
The law is named after U.S. District Judge Esther Salas’ son, 20-year-old Daniel Aderle, who was killed in the family’s New Jersey home by a man who previously had a case before her.
Roberts thanked members of Congress “for taking care of judicial security needs.” And he said programs that protect judges are “essential to the operation of a court system.”
Writing about judicial security, Roberts told the story of Judge Ronald N. Davies, who in September 1957 ordered the integration of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. Davis’ decision followed the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision that segregated schools were unconstitutional and rejected Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus’s attempt to end school integration.
Davis was “physically threatened for following the law,” but the judge was “easygoing,” Roberts said.
“A judicial system cannot and should not live in fear. The events of Little Rock teach the importance of the rule of law over the mob,” he wrote.
Roberts noted that officials are currently working to recreate the courtroom that Davis presided over in 1957. Roberts said the judge’s chair used by Davis and other items from the courtroom have been preserved and will be installed in the recreated courtroom at a federal courthouse in Little Rock “so that these important items can once again be used in court.”
Before that happens, however, the judge’s bench will be on display as part of a Supreme Court exhibit beginning in the fall and for the next several years, he said.
“The exhibit will introduce visitors to the workings of the federal court system, the history of racial segregation and segregation in our country, and Thurgood Marshall’s towering contributions as an advocate,” Roberts said. Marshall, who supported Brown v. the Board of Education, became the first black Supreme Court justice in 1967.
The Supreme Court continues to wrestle with complex issues involving race.that term deals with affirmative action, and the court’s conservative majority is expected to use them to reverse decades of rulings that allow colleges to consider race in admissions. In another case, the justices could weaken the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, the crown jewel of the civil rights movement.
The justices will hear their first arguments of 2023 on January 9.