The WBA extends its deepest sympathy to federal Judge Esther Salas, her husband, her family, her colleagues, the city of Newark, and the township of North Brunswick, and to the judiciary.
On July 19, 2020, a self-proclaimed “men’s rights” and “anti-feminist” lawyer attacked Judge Salas and her family, and by the time that unspeakable attack ended, Judge Salas’s only son was dead and her husband critically injured. The gunman – a lawyer who took an oath to uphold the rule of law – broke that oath in the most vile way possible.
This horrific act is part of larger growing cultural phenomenon in which “disagreement” is used to mask discrimination, bigotry, and lack of respect for human dignity, and which too easily devolves into violent verbal or physical attacks. While this was unquestionably an attack on Judge Salas personally – as a woman, as a Latina, a jurist, and a human being – it also was an attack on the rule of law and on gender and racial diversity in the legal profession and the judiciary.
The WBA condemns outright the attack on Judge Salas’s family and any violence targeting members of the judiciary. And, in the midst of our condemnation, we are heartbroken and grieve with Judge Salas.
The WBA’s mission to maintain the honor and integrity of the profession requires acting, amplifying, and speaking up on behalf of others, especially when it is uncomfortable. We cannot hope to move forward on critical issues of gender and racial equity if we do not identify and actively work to dismantle toxic misogyny and racism that – as the attack on Judge Salas and her family evidences – can and too often does lead directly to violence. We must address these kinds of toxicity and take threats of violence seriously. We cannot be complacent. After all, each of us must be responsible not only for ourselves but also meet the moral obligation to look out for each other’s well-being and safety.