Bloomberg Law
Feb. 26, 2020, 5:35 PMUpdated: Feb. 26, 2020, 7:33 PM

‘Unwarranted Attacks’ on Judges Decried by Philadelphia Bar (1)

Madison Alder
Madison Alder

Attacks on the federal judiciary are threatening the rule of law and judicial independence, the Philadelphia Bar Association said in a statement condemning “recent, unwarranted attacks” and calling for defense of the courts.

While the statement issued Wednesday didn’t mention specific instances, it comes after President Donald Trump used his Twitter account to harshly criticize the federal criminal case against his sometime associate Roger Stone.

Separately, Trump also accused U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg of evident bias and demanded they recuse themselves from future cases involving his administration.

“Recently, we have seen a course of conduct, including communications meant to exert undue influence on the judiciary, that seems intent on undermining the rule of law and disrupting the system of checks and balances,” Judge A. Michael Snyder, chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, said in the group’s statement.

“Such attacks are dangerous in the extreme. We cannot allow them to continue,” Snyder said.

In the Stone case, Trump’s latest tweet criticized the forewoman of the jury that convicted him of witness tampering and lying to Congress as well as U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the case in Washington and sentenced him to 40 months in prison.

The president also criticized prosecutors’ initial sentencing recommendation for the longtime Republican political operative and lobbyist, triggering a controversy that ultimately called into question the independence of Attorney General William Barr.

While she didn’t call out Trump by name, Jackson said outside comments “were entirely inappropriate” at Stone’s Feb. 20 sentencing.

Snyder said that “judges need to know that their lawful judgments will be upheld, and that their very legitimacy may not be questioned.”

In the Supreme Court matter, Trump responded critically to a Sotomayor dissent in an immigration case in which she said her conservative colleagues were too quick to clear the president’s policies.

“She said some things that were obviously inappropriate,” Trump said of Sotomayor.

Ginsuburg voted with the other liberal justices in the minority in that case, but she also angered Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign when she called him a “faker.” She later said that she regretted the remark.

“I just don’t know how they cannot recuse themselves for anything Trump or Trump-related,” Trump said.

—With assistance from David Voreacos and Erik Larson (Bloomberg) and Kimberly Robinson (Bloomberg Law).

(Clarifies Judge Snyder's bar association position at paragraph four.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; John Crawley at; Andrew Harris at