Prominent Atlanta lawyer criticizes Trump's attacks of Seattle judge

Atlanta lawyer Linda Klein, president of the nation's largest legal organization, took aim Monday at President Donald Trump after he criticized a Seattle judge who blocked the president's executive order on immigration.

"Make no mistake," Klein said, "personal attacks on judges are attacks on our

Atlanta lawyer Linda Klein, president of the American Bar Association. EMILY JENKINS/ EJENKINS@AJC.COM

Constitution. Let us be clear: The independence of the judiciary is not up for negotiation."

In a tweet posted on Saturday, Trump wrote, "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

Trump didn't stop there. He followed up with a number of other tweets that strongly criticized Friday's ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robart.

Because of Robart's "terrible decision," Trump tweeted, "many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country."

If "something happens," blame Robart and the court system, the president wrote in yet another tweet. "People pouring in. Bad!”

Klein addressed Trump's tweets during a speech before the American Bar Association's House of Delegates at the organization's mid-year meeting in Miami.

"There are no 'so-called judges' in America," Klein said. "There are simply judges -- fair and impartial. And we must keep it that way."

For a nation based on the rule of law, nothing is more important that the impartiality and integrity of the U.S. court system, said Klein, who in 1997 became the first woman president of the State Bar of Georgia.

"It is vital that our judiciary remains independent and free from political pressure -- independent from party politics, independent from Congress and independent from the president of the United States himself," Klein said.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle. Photo: Associated Press

Robart is an appointee of President Georgia W. Bush and was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2004. In his ruling, Robert said there was "no support" for the administration's argument that "we have to protect the U.S. from individuals" from the seven countries affected by the temporary travel ban: Iran, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and Libya.

The  Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is hearing arguments today on the Justice Department's appeal of Robart's ruling.

On Monday, Klein, a senior managing shareholder at the firm Baker Donelson,  said there has been a lot of talk about protecting the nation's borders.

"Let me tell you what the most important border is: It's our Constitution and the rule of law it embodies," she said. "We as lawyers are called upon to protect it."

Klein ended her remarks with a rallying cry to the American Bar Association's 400,000

Winston Churchill Photo: AP


"We protect the rule of law. We defend the Constitution. We are lawyers. We took an oath and these are our values," she said, and then quoted late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. "We will never give in. Never, never, never, never."

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Bill Rankin
Bill Rankin
Bill Rankin covers criminal justice, the death penalty and legal affairs. He also hosts the AJC’s “Breakdown” podcast.