Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has the unique and dubious honor of being not particularly well-liked by ideologues on either side of the political aisle thanks to his history of controversial decisions in his post on the high court. Now, one liberal-leaning attorney and retired judge from Hawaii has just taken his dislike of the chief justice to a new level.
In a scathing letter that was published in its entirety by Slate, Judge James Dannenberg slammed Roberts for allowing the Supreme Court to devolve into an institution with “little respect for the rule of law” and announced his formal resignation from the Supreme Court Bar, an exclusive and prestigious association of attorneys that Dannenberg had been a part of since 1972.
No respect for Roberts
In his letter, dated Wednesday, Dannenberg said it “was not an easy decision” to step away from the bar.
“I have not always agreed with the Court’s decisions, but until recently I have generally seen them as products of mainstream legal reasoning, whether liberal or conservative,” he wrote, according to Slate. “I can no longer say that with any confidence. You are doing far more — and far worse — than ‘calling balls and strikes.’ You are allowing the Court to become an ‘errand boy’ for an administration that has little respect for the rule of law.”
The judge went on: “The ideas of free speech and religious liberty have been transmogrified to allow officially sanctioned bigotry and discrimination, as well as to elevate the grossest forms of political bribery beyond the ability of the federal government or states to rationally regulate it.
“More than a score of decisions during your tenure have overturned established precedents — some more than forty years old — and you voted with the majority in most,” he added. “There is nothing ‘conservative’ about this trend. This is radical ‘legal activism’ at its worst.”
Dannenberg, who “sat on the District Court of the 1st Circuit of the state judiciary for 27 years,” according to Slate, also blasted Roberts for allowing the court to become what he called “a result-oriented extension of the right wing of the Republican Party.”
“Yes, politics has always been a factor in the Court’s history, but not to today’s extent,” he wrote. “The only constitutional freedoms ultimately recognized may soon be limited to those useful to wealthy, Republican, White, straight, Christian, and armed males — and the corporations they control. This is wrong. Period. This is not America.”
But despite Dannenberg’s allegations, Roberts hasn’t always been hailed by the GOP. As Politico noted in the midst of the impeachment saga, the chief justice has long had a rocky relationship with President Donald Trump, and has even publicly criticized the commander in chief for his comments about “Obama judges.”
Politico also reported that conservatives were left frustrated with Roberts after he sided in 2012 “with the court’s four liberal justices on a narrow 5–4 ruling upholding a central element of President Barack Obama’s health care law.”
That didn’t seem to matter to Dannenberg, though, who said frankly that he no longer respects Roberts.
“I no longer have respect for you or your majority, and I have little hope for change,” he wrote Wednesday, according to Slate. “I can’t vote you out of office because you have life tenure, but I can withdraw whatever insignificant support my Bar membership might seem to provide.”