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Misunderstanding and Distrust -- CJI Letter to the Editor

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[Note: This CJI letter to the editor originally appeared in the December 24, 2023, issue of The Denver Gazette in response to a recent Gazette editorial. Reprinted here with permission.]

We write in response to the Gazette editorial, “Trump ruling is judicial comedy”, about the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision in Anderson v. Griswold. Our organization, the Colorado Judicial Institute, is an independent, politically neutral nonprofit dedicated in part to preserving the ability of Colorado’s judiciary – a coequal, independent branch of government – to decide cases fairly and impartially, based on facts and law and not extraneous influences.

It is one thing to disagree with a judicial decision. It is quite another to attack the decision’s authors and their motivations. As we have alarmingly seen, physical and even fatal harm to judicial officers based on disagreement with their decisions is not an idle threat and has no place in our democracy. Numerous threats of harm to the Anderson decision’s authors are already being reported.

Unfortunately, the Gazette editorial goes beyond disagreement with the Anderson decision’s merits. It characterizes the decision as “buffoonery” and suggests improper motivations as a “political manifesto,” “political screed,” and “judicial activism.”

This type of irresponsible commentary feeds misunderstanding and distrust in our institutions and contributes to the polarization of our society. In these fraught times, it does our community a profound disservice.

Our Colorado justices did their job in deciding Anderson on facts and law. If wrongly decided, its reversal should occur based on legal precedent and reason, not rhetoric. Impugning the judicial process and the individuals charged with making difficult decisions on complex issues is not only unproductive – it is dangerous.