In a rare interruption of its public session, the Supreme Court paused for a moment of silence Monday to honor the victims of a shooting rampage in Arizona, including a federal judge.
The “senseless shooting on Saturday caused devastating injury to persons who all, in their own way, contribute to the strength of our nation,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told the courtroom, according to a Wall Street Journal article.
Among six people killed was Judge John Roll of Arizona, who Chief Justice Roberts recalled as “a dedicated member of the federal judiciary.” Critically wounded was U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
President Obama led a moment of silence at the White House, and observers gathered at the U.S. Capitol, as well.
Various profiles of the chief judge for the Arizona district described him as fair-minded, conservative, and as a champion for greater resources for the court.
“He was very committed to maintaining the integrity of the system,” said lawyer Richard Martinez of Tucson, who appeared before Judge Roll over 20 years, according to a Blog of Legal Times post.
“He was a life-long Republican and I don’t think he would have objected to hearing anyone call him conservative,” said Michael Daly Hawkins, a judge on the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the Wall Street Journal. “But he was always fair-minded and absolutely attentive to everyone who appeared in his courtroom.”
He authored some controversial rulings. He was among several judges who ruled in 1994 that a part of the Brady Law, the federal handgun control measure, was unconstitutional, the Tucson Sentinel reported. Its requirement of local law enforcement officials to do background checks of handgun buyers violated the Tenth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, he ruled.
According to a NPR broadcast, he was involved in Operation Streamline, a program started in the Bush administration and continued under President Obama. The initiative expanded federal resources to capture illegal immigrants and quickly try their cases in court. The judge told NPR last year his court carried out the wishes of the executive branch and Congress:
“We tried to – in Arizona – to make certain that rights aren’t violated or trampled by this. And streamlined isn’t the same as assembly line justice. It means that – it just means that there are a large number of cases at that particular level, that are analyzed and heard each day.”