Herrera Slams Republican Political Attacks on Independent Judiciary as 'Destructive'
Op-Ed in State's Largest-Circulation Legal Newspaper Today Cites Pattern of Anti-Judicial Alarmism on Marriage and Abortion Rights, War on Terror
SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 22, 2004) -- California's largest circulation legal newspaper today published a guest editorial by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera that condemns a pattern of Republican political attacks on the independent judiciary, as exemplified a week ago by Attorney General John Ashcroft's assertion of "intrusive judicial oversight" over presidential decisions that "can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war."
Calling the remark "alarmist hyperbole at its most destructive," Herrera said Ashcroft's controversial statement was "emblematic of a broader, more troubling effort by the Bush Administration to demonize the judiciary for fulfilling its role as the guardian of individual liberties."
Herrera cited several examples of anti-judicial alarmism by prominent Republicans, from President Bush's State of the Union assertion that "activist judges" were "forcing their arbitrary will upon the people" on the issue of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples to former Judge Robert Bork's recent complaints about the U.S. Supreme Court's "almost frenzied hostility to religion" on issues of abortion, affirmative action and antiquated sodomy laws.
Arguing that "such strident politicization ignores the courts' well-established constitutional duty in undertaking judicial review," Herrera characterized the pattern of Republican attacks as an executive and legislative effort to "subordinate a once coequal branch of government that was deliberately intended to serve as a counterbalance to majoritarian tyranny."
"As a lawyer and officer of the court, however, I am far more dismayed by this administration's repeated attacks on the courts," Herrera wrote, "which undermine the legitimacy of the judiciary as a coequal branch of government. That's not politics -- that's un-American."
For the complete text of City Attorney Herrera's op-ed, which was published in this morning's editions of the Los Angeles Daily Journal and San Francisco Daily Journal, please visit the City Attorney's Web site at http://www.sfgov.org/city_attorney/.
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