A federal judge has received hate mail and death threats after she put the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration law on hold. Her decision thrust her into a national spotlight.
Federal District Judge Susan R. Bolton halted the most controversial parts of the law from taking effect (see Gavel Grab). On Thursday, Arizona asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift her order.
The U.S. Marshals Service in Phoenix said the judge got death threats as emotions ran high over the divisive ruling, and demonstrators took to the streets, according to a New York Times article.
Some messages sent to Judge Bolton by phone calls and e-mails were positive but others were “from people venting and who have expressed their displeasure in a perverted way,” the Associated Press quoted David Gonzales, the U.S. Marshal for Arizona, as saying.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, said on the Fox News program Fox & Friends that the judge was “in many ways is responsible” if “anyone in Arizona gets hurt during this intervening period,” according to Media Matters for America, a media watchdog group. Here are Gingrich’s words, as reported by Media Matters:
“She should bear a great deal of responsibility and if anybody in Arizona is hurt during this intervening period, I think that judge in many ways is responsible.
“The people of Arizona with a freely elected legislature and freely elected governor were trying to solve a problem the federal government had created and now you have a federal judge stepping in, blocking the people of Arizona in their own freely elected institutions from trying to protect themselves. It’s fundamentally wrong.”
The heated criticism of her ruling continued in other quarters. “I think the word ‘abomination’ does not overstate this court’s decision,” wrote Mark Levin in National Review Online.
Judge Bolton indicated in her ruling that the federal government has good prospects for prevailing in its position that U.S. immigration law trumps Arizona state law.
The issue could ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a Los Angeles Times article. When the high court has weighed in recent years cases of judges overturning state laws on broad legal challenges like the one brought in Arizona, it has taken a “dim view,” the article said.