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Grey Urges Respect for Judges

"The ABA wants to make clear we have a system where we resolve disputes," Grey says, "where the people involved get a fair and impartial decision to matters that affect their lives. People ought to know that people making the decisions are doing what we asked them to do."

When President George Bush, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Congress itself asked a federal court to order Teri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted, a federal district judge refused. That led to ferocious criticism. Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay was quoted as calling the courts "arrogant, out-of-control" and announcing, "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

"There is no need for personal attacks on the judges in this [Schiavo] case," Grey said in a public statement March 25. "They are not killers as some have called them, nor are they activists bent on pushing an ideological agenda. They are simply dedicated public servants called on to serve as impartial arbiters in a very difficult case."

Along with such public statements, Grey wrote to the 400,000-plus members of his organization April 1, reminding them that "regardless of how one feels about the specific circumstances of the Schiavo — or any — situation, the role of the judiciary is clear. Federal and state judges are charged with weighing the facts and following the remedies set forth in the law, responsibilities they carry out valiantly and with great dignity and sensitivity. … Too often judges are characterized as political tools and the justice system merely an offshoot of politics, and not the independent leg of our democracy they are."

Recent decisions have brought judges under fire. The United States Supreme Court decreed that it is not legal to execute someone who committed murder while he or she was a juvenile. The 9th Circuit decided that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance were unconstitutional.

"When you start talking about impeaching judges," Grey says, "it has a corrosive effect on the public trust."

To the complaint that the courts are too powerful Grey reminds that there are checks and balances. "When the courts make a decision the legislature doesn't like," he says, "it is free to pass legislation that moves the law more into synch with their thoughts." — Rozanne Epps

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