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CCE Presents "Threats to the Third Branch" on December 4

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Threats to the Third Branch: Domestic and International

Attacks on the American Judiciary 


 Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 5:15 p.m.

E. Barrett Prettyman

U.S. Courthouse - Ceremonial Courtroom

333 Constitution Ave NW


Few would dispute that American judges, our justice system, and respect for the rule of law have been under assault in new ways. Political and online attacks on judges’ independence and impartiality seek to undermine the courts’ role as a meaningful check on the other branches of government. Chief Justice John Roberts put it best when he said, "The independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for." At the same time, Russia's attacks on U.S. democracy did not begin or end with the 2016 election. There is mounting evidence that Putin and other foreign nations are targeting our courts and justice system as part of a larger propaganda campaign to rattle all of the U.S.’s democratic institutions. Late-Senator John McCain, in February of this year, warned that “Putin’s regime has launched cyberattacks and spread disinformation with the goal of sowing chaos and weakening faith in our institutions.”

We must now examine how best to preserve trust in and respect for our courts, despite attacks coming not only from other nations or malicious cyber activities, but also from our fellow Americans. How can judges, lawyers, and citizens in D.C. defend against such attacks and help serve as voices of support for the Third Branch? Our expert panel will explore these threats and ways to prevent them or at least minimize their harm, while reinforcing that a fair and impartial judiciary is one of our democracy’s greatest strengths.


  • The Honorable James Robertson (Ret.), United States District Judge for the District of Columbia 
  • The Honorable Vanessa Ruiz, District of Columbia Court of Appeals; President, International Association of Women Judges
  • Suzanne Spaulding, Senior Adviser, Homeland Security Program and International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies 
  • Sarah Turberville, Director, Constitution Project at Project on Government Oversight
  • Moderator: The Honorable Gregory Mize, Judicial Fellow, National Center for State Courts; Senior Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia 

Here are some highlights from Threats to the Third Branch: Domestic and International Attacks on the American Judiciary:




Photos courtesy of Pam Rutter of POGO


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