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O'Connor warns of growing efforts at 'judicial intimidation'

[JURIST] Retired US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor [OYEZ profile] warned Wednesday against growing efforts at "judicial intimidation" in the United States. In a Wall St. Journal op-ed O'Connor said that a recently-proposed South Dakota constitutional amendment [Amendment E text] to end judicial immunity, promoted in a what she called a "venomous" manner by a national group called JAIL 4 Judges [advocacy website], was but one instance of a troubling trend towards constraining and "scapegoating" the judiciary that has reached into Congress and even into the ranks of judges themselves. O'Connor noted in particular that threats and "inappropriate communications" directed towards judges have more than quadrupled in the last ten years, eroding judges' ability to remain independent and uphold the rule of law: "Judges who are afraid -- whether they fear for their jobs or fear for their lives -- cannot adequately fulfill the considerable responsibilities that the position demands."

Earlier this year, both O'Connor and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg [OYEZ profile] said they had received death threats [JURIST report] after Republican politicians criticized judges for citing foreign law or being "activist" in their rulings. US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has acknowledged that the security of judges is becoming a national concern [JURIST report].

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