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Justice Ginsburg Reveals Details of Threat

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060315/ap_on_go_su_co/ginsburg_threats Justice Ginsburg Reveals Details of Threat By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer Wed Mar
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 15, 2006
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      Justice Ginsburg Reveals Details of Threat

      By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer Wed Mar 15,
      5:32 PM ET

      WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
      said she and former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor have
      been the targets of death threats from the "irrational
      fringe" of society, people apparently spurred by
      Republican criticism of the high court.

      Ginsburg revealed in a speech in South Africa last
      month that she and O'Connor were threatened a year ago
      by someone who called on the Internet for the
      immediate "patriotic" killing of the justices.

      Security concerns among judges have been growing.

      Conservative commentator Ann Coulter joked earlier
      this year that Justice John Paul Stevens should be
      poisoned. Over the past few months O'Connor has
      complained that criticism, mainly by Republicans, has
      threatened judicial independence to deal with
      difficult issues like gay marriage.

      Worry is not limited to the Supreme Court. Three
      quarters of the nation's 2,200 federal judges have
      asked for government-paid home security systems,
      Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said this week.

      Ginsburg said the Web threat was apparently prompted
      by proposals in Congress, filed by Republicans, that
      tell judges to stop relying on foreign laws or court

      "It is disquieting that they have attracted sizable
      support. And one not-so-small concern — they fuel the
      irrational fringe," she said in a speech posted online
      by the court earlier this month and first reported
      Wednesday by LegalTimes.com.

      According to Ginsburg, someone in a Web site chat room
      wrote: "Okay commandoes, here is your first patriotic
      assignment ... an easy one. Supreme Court Justices
      Ginsburg and O'Connor have publicly stated that they
      use (foreign) laws and rulings to decide how to rule
      on American cases. This is a huge threat to our
      Republic and Constitutional freedom. ... If you are
      what you say you are, and NOT armchair patriots, then
      those two justices will not live another week."

      Rep. Tom Feeney (news, bio, voting record), R-Fla., a
      sponsor of one of the congressional proposals, wrote
      about the legislation on his Web site and in bold
      letters featured a quote from O'Connor predicting the
      Supreme Court would probably increasingly rely on
      foreign courts.

      Ginsburg pointed out that the legislation was first
      proposed in 2004, an election year.

      According to the legislation's promoters, the Feeney
      proposal had 82 Republican and 2 Democratic
      co-sponsors. One supporter was former Majority Leader
      Tom DeLay of Texas, a lawmaker O'Connor has criticized
      — although not by name — for harshly denouncing

      Justices, in some of their most hotly contested
      rulings, have looked overseas. Last year, for example,
      justices barred the executions of juvenile killers on
      a 5-4 vote. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said then that
      "it is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming
      weight of international opinion against the juvenile
      death penalty." DeLay called the ruling outrageous. He
      also suggested that the House consider impeaching some

      In an angry dissent to that decision, Justice
      Antonin Scalia said capital punishment policy should
      be set by states, not "the subjective views of five
      members of this court and like-minded foreigners."

      Ginsburg said, "Critics in Congress and in the media
      misperceive how and why U.S. courts refer to foreign
      and international court decisions." She said those
      decisions are used for guidance only.

      O'Connor said last week during a speech at Georgetown
      Law School that the justices have received threats.
      But the Ginsburg remarks at the Constitutional Court
      of South Africa provide unusual detail.

      Ginsburg, who turned 73 Wednesday, told the audience
      O'Connor "remains alive and well — as for me, you can
      judge for yourself."


      On the Net:

      Justice Ginsburg speech:

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