The Jurist: American Bar Association warns of increasing threats to US judges

American Bar Association warns of increasing threats to US judges

The American Bar Association published a statement on Monday expressing alarm over the increasing threats against judges in the US.

The statement cited that serious threats against judges have doubled since 2019, with 457 incidents reported in 2023. These threats often involve threats to physical safety and harm and can have a profoundly negative effect on a judge’s well-being.

In her statement, ABA President Mary Smith highlighted the importance of protecting judges, stating, “Threats against the very individuals we have appointed or elected to administer our judicial system and the rule of law are not only wrong, they also threaten the very fabric of our democracy — judicial independence and the rule of law.”

In 2018, the ABA issued a call to action that urged lawyers to oppose attacks on judges and defend the judicial system’s independent nature. The ABA believes that starting with lawyers will reinvigorate the public’s trust in the judicial system, diverting the anger and disappointment many feel away from judges and towards the proper cause.

This comes as former US President Donald Trump became subject to a gag order in his New York falsified documents case, preventing him from commenting on the judge and members of the judge’s family. Trump had mentioned the judge’s daughter in a demeaning way multiple times on social media before the gag order took effect.

The Brennan Center for Justice noticed and documented a pattern of Trump’s remarks against judges in the cases he is part of or in which he disagrees with the outcome. The Brennan Center stated:

This threatens our entire system of government. The courts are bulwarks of our Constitution and laws, and they depend on the public to respect their judgments and on officials to obey and enforce their decisions. Fear of personal attacks, public backlash, or enforcement failures should not color judicial decision-making, and public officials have a responsibility to respect courts and judicial decisions. Separation of powers is not a threat to democracy; it is the essence of democracy.