Rep. Denny Rehberg’s address to the Montana Legislature, in which he criticized District Judge Donald Molloy for his decision on gray wolves, has drawn a rebuke in the form of an editorial in the New York Times. In his Feb. 7 address, Rehberg remarked, apparently in reference to Molloy’s decision to keep wolves on the federal endangered species list, “When I first heard his decision, like many of you I wanted to take action immediately. I asked: ‘How can we put some of these judicial activists on the endangered species list.’ I am still working on that!”
The comment prompted a guest editorial published in several Montana newspapers by Molloy’s children, who wrote, “It is not acceptable or appropriate to make veiled or outright threats of harm toward anyone, including a judge who is performing a constitutional responsibility to interpret and apply the laws that Congress enacts, based on the facts and law presented in the courtroom, and not on public opinion.”
I, personally, thought the reactions to Rehberg’s comments were somewhat overblown, and found his comparison within the bounds of fairly typical political rhetoric, especially in Montana. The New York Times editorial board, apparently, disagreed:
Mr. Rehberg, who likes to quote Thomas Jefferson when it suits him, should re-read the Constitution. The judiciary is a separate, co-equal branch of government. Federal judges have life tenure in order to make impartial and independent judgments. Mr. Rehberg should protect the judge from political pressure, not subject him to a nasty kind that encourages others to do the same.
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