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Attorney General Supports Federal Judges
Federal judges should be able to make decisions free from undue inﬂuence, but
should not expect to be immune from scrutiny and criticism, Attorney General
Alberto R. Gonzales told a group of chief district court judges meeting in
Washington last month.
The former Texas Supreme Court justice and White House Counsel told the group
he was familiar with the expectations placed on judges’ shoulders and the
burdens in meeting them.
“I want you to know that I appreciate the daily—and unique—displays of
courage you show in the hundreds of judicial decisions you collectively make
each day,” he told the judges. “As Attorney General, I will always support
you—and the integrity of the process that allows for that courage—in any way I
can.” He said the foundation of that process was judicial independence. “I
believe strongly, as the President does, in an independent Judiciary,” said
Gonzales. “The President will continue to appoint judges who faithfully
interpret the Constitution; and I will continue to support every effort to
ensure that judges already in place can make decisions based solely on the
The Attorney General noted, however, that “enduring criticism is a natural
part of a job that declares winner and losers.”
“. . .[T]he concept of judicial independence has never meant, and should
never mean that your decisions should be immune from scrutiny and criticism,” he
said. “Quite the contrary, as Justice Thomas testiﬁed earlier this week in front
of a House committee, federal judges ‘have lifetime appointments because [they]
are suppose to be criticized.’”
But while independence provides safety from public criticism, judges also
must have the physical security to do their job.
“The Department of Justice and the Marshals Service will continue to work to
ensure that threats to federal judges are quickly assessed and appropriate
measures are taken,” Gonzales said. “We will not accept that a judge is
intimidated or threatened in any way in discharging his or her obligation to
faithfully interpret the law. To that end, I have directed that a review of
judicial security measures be undertaken so that the Department, as well as
state and local law enforcement, can beneﬁt from a compilation of best practices
from across the nation.”
According to the Attorney General, the Department of Justice is currently
studying proposed legislative alternatives regarding sentencing in the wake of
the Supreme Court’s decision in the consolidated cases of United States v.
Booker/Fanfan; and that the Administration not only is working to identify
qualiﬁed judicial nominees to ﬁll existing vacancies, it also supports the
creation of additional judgeships.
For the complete remarks of Attorney General Gonzales, visit DOJ’s website at