MARGERY A. BECK
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge in Nebraska is again drawing attention because of his personal blog, this time for using an obscene reference to suggest that the U.S. Supreme Court should not have heard the Hobby Lobby case.
The high court’s June 30 ruling found that some businesses can, because of their religious beliefs, choose not to comply with the federal health care law’s requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge.
Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf weighed in Saturday on his blog, “Hercules and the Umpire.” In it, he wrote that the ruling looks bad to the public, because the five justices who made up the majority opinion on an issue affecting women are all male, Catholic and appointed by Republican presidents.
He also wrote that “it is time for the (Supreme) Court to stfu” — a slang abbreviation that includes an expletive. Kopf linked the abbreviation to its definition in Urban Dictionary.
“This term and several past terms have proven that the Court is now causing more harm (division) to our democracy than good by deciding hot button cases that the Court has the power to avoid,” Kopf wrote.
Kopf was appointed to the federal bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush. Like all federal judges, his appointment was for life. Kopf is now semiretired as a senior judge, taking only cases assigned him.
The judge’s post had gotten more than 250 comments by Tuesday. Many were supportive, but many also criticized the judge for chiding the Supreme Court.
On Monday, Kopf posted a letter from a Nebraska attorney — whose name he had redacted — which said, among other things, that Kopf’s use of profanity shakes the trust of the public in judges and the judicial process. The lawyer asked him to stop writing the blog.
“I am going to give this letter serious consideration,” Kopf wrote. “It comes from someone I respect and whose judgment I trust. It also reminds me that, as a physician might say, I should always strive ‘first to do no harm.’ Blogging will be light while I figure this out.”
Kopf declined to comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The blog itself is unusual for a federal judge, and it’s been controversial before.
The judge told Congress in the blog last year to “go to hell” for allowing a brief federal government shutdown. He criticized the Supreme Court in April 2013, saying many of its decisions are irrelevant.
He declared in December that he was shutting down the blog, but resumed in March. Within days, he had again drawn ire with a post in which he called himself a “dirty old man” and suggested that young women attorneys need to dress more conservatively in court.
So far, there hasn’t been much fallout, though a chief judge unhappy with a senior judge’s behavior could simply stop assigning Kopf cases. But Nebraska’s Chief U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp has been a staunch supporter of Kopf’s, even expressing her support Saturday on Kopf’s blog, encouraging him to keep at it.
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