Monday, April 1, 2024

GOP appointed judge warns of violence and tyranny

A Republican-appointed judge denounced Donald Trump’s social media attacks against the judge presiding over the former president’s hush money trial in Manhattan and his daughter, calling them assaults on the rule of law that could lead to violence and tyranny, reported the Washington Post.

“When judges are threatened, and particularly when their family is threatened, it’s something that’s wrong and should not happen,” U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in a live interview Thursday. He added, “It is very troubling because I think it is an attack on the rule of law.”

The unusual media statement by a sitting federal judge came after Trump blasted New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan and his daughter, Loren Merchan, criticizing her affiliation with a digital marketing company that works with Democratic candidates and erroneously attributing to her a social media post showing Trump behind bars.

Walton, who was appointed by presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to courts in Washington in 1981 and 1991, said “any reasonable, thinking person” would appreciate the impact of Trump’s rhetoric on some followers, intentional or not. The judge recalled how a disgruntled litigant killed the son and wounded the husband of New Jersey federal Judge Esther Salas at her home in a 2020 shooting.

Since late 2020, as Trump began escalating his attacks on the judiciary, serious investigated threats against federal judges have more than doubled, from 224 in 2021 to 457 in 2023, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, as first reported by Reuters. Federal judges in Washington say at least half of trial judges handling cases arising from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol have received a surge in threats and harassment, including death threats to their homes, with Trump’s election obstruction trial judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, placed under 24-hour protection.

“The rule of law can only be maintained if we have independent judicial officers who are able to do their job and ensure that the laws are in fact enforced and that the laws are applied equally to everybody who appears in our courthouse,” Walton told CNN. He was prompted to speak out of concern for the “future of our country and the future of democracy in our country,” Walton said, “because if we don’t have a viable court system that’s able to function efficiently, then we have tyranny.”

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