As members of the legal profession, I know you share my concern over the public's misunderstanding
of the judiciary's role and the politically motivated criticism of the judiciary stemming from the Terri Schiavo case, and
are equally alarmed about the murders of Judge Lefkow's family members in Chicago and the attacks at the Fulton County Courthouse
in Georgia. The circumstances of these tragic events require careful analysis,
thoughtful leadership, and measured response. The American Bar Association has long held the preservation of judicial independence
as one of the most important Association goals. These recent events have elevated
the urgency of that commitment among the ABA's leadership. In the past several
days, I have issued public statements condemning the violence against our judiciary and the gratuitous and vicious public
attacks on the dedicated men and women who are our country's judges. During my
speaking engagements, I have taken the opportunity to call for a change in tenor when the national discussion turns to our
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 of a case and following the remedies set forth in the law, responsibilities they carry out valiantly and
with great dignity and sensitivity.
It is vital that the legal community address the current atmosphere in which our legal system operates,
in what can only be called a decline in civility and respect toward our justice system.
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 that they are. Efforts to address the problems
of courthouse security have been initiated by the Judicial Conference of the United States and the National Center for State
Courts, and I have approached these organizations as well as a number of entities within the ABA to determine where and how
we can best contribute to resolving problems faced by the nation's courts and judges.
The Association is committed to promoting the importance of judicial independence. The four entities that comprise the ABA Justice Center: the Judicial Division, the Standing Committee on
Judicial Independence, the Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements, and the Coalition for Justice work tirelessly
to develop resources, initiatives, policies, and programs that support our justice system, our judges, and our courts. Information on each of these entities' initiatives can be accessed through the Justice
Center's Web site at http://www.abanet.org/justicecenter/home.html
Thank you for your continued support of the ABA, the legal profession, and the judiciary. As the voice of the legal profession, we must not allow those among us who would do harm, in any form,
to destroy the very freedoms our legal system is entrusted to protect.
Robert J. Grey, Jr.President, American Bar Association