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Judges Face Threats Over Immigration Ban Case

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 14, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A courthouse changes when police stand outside with guns -- rather than sit inside next to a scanning machine.

It has certainly changed for US Judge James L. Robart, who issued a nationwide order stopping President Trump's now infamous immigration ban. A week ago, it was business as usual. Now Robart needs protection because of online threats.

"Ridiculous." "So called-judge." "Known liberal sympathizer." Those are just tweets from the president.

"Dead man walking." "Bow tie wearing freak." "Who in your family is expendable Robart?" And those are from his followers.

Attack on Rule of Law

Since President Trump took aim at Robart and the U..S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed the judge's ruling Thursday, U.S. Marshals have stepped up security for the jurists. The threats come as Trump continues his criticisms of judges, and even as his own Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch calls the president's comments "demoralizing and disheartening."

Security experts say that although Trump's comments were not meant to put the judges' safety at risk, public officials should not target specific judges.

"Federal judges are constantly under some kind of threat around the country, and the US Marshals investigate hundreds of threats every year on the federal judiciary," said Arthur D. Roderick, a retired assistant director for investigations for the US Marshals. "Anybody that has looked at what the US Marshals do has got to realize that an attack on any judge is an attack on the rule of law of the United States."

People on the Edge

John Muffler, a former US marshal who teaches security at the National Judicial College, said judges have expressed concerns about their safety from the immigration ban fall-out.

"I know there's a fear among the judiciary with what's being said," he said, adding "people on the edge can easily be pushed over the edge once the rhetoric gets going."

Since the legal setbacks, Trump has been waging his battle more in the press than in court. Reports say the president may not appeal, and instead issue new orders.

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