Jurists Must Remain Free From Harassment, Threats, Intimidation
As published in Bloomberg Law on February 25,2021
Everyone has a right to express opinions about a court decision. But after last year’s election, some went further and suggested that Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge Brian Hagedorn’s ruling in Trump’s lawsuit to invalidate ballots betrayed his party or his supporters. Rodney Acker, president of the American College of Trial Lawyers, says our democracy will be in peril if threats and harassment harm jurists’ duty and right to interpret law and facts and rule accordingly.
Democracy has (ultimately) prevailed. We can all count our blessings that we witnessed yet another peaceful transfer of power in our country on Inauguration Day. But in the weeks between the election and the Inauguration, we also witnessed an unprecedented assault on another pillar of our democracy—the judges and justices who preside over our courts.
The rule of law is an essential aspect of our democracy, as well as a key to our prosperity, security, and constitutional order. We cannot afford to ignore or take it lightly when the independence of the judiciary is threatened in pursuit of political gain.
After the election, a large number of lawsuits were filed contesting the results in both state and federal courts around the country. To the extent that people had reason to believe that violations of election laws had changed the outcome of the race, they had the absolute right to petition the courts for redress.
Those legal challenges were rejected consistently across the board. The justices and judges in those cases followed their sworn duty to interpret the law and facts as they saw them and rule accordingly. That is exactly what we rely on members of the judiciary to do.