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Judge to Supreme Court: 'STFU'

By Bill Mears, CNN
updated 10:46 AM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court sit for their official photograph on October 8, 2010, at the Supreme Court. Front row, from left: Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Back row, from left: Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan. The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court sit for their official photograph on October 8, 2010, at the Supreme Court. Front row, from left: Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Back row, from left: Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Federal Judge Richard Kopf wrote a choice expression in his blog
  • He was responding to last week's Hobby Lobby decision on Obamacare and birth control
  • This isn't the first time Kopf has fired off prococative commentary online

(CNN) -- The Supreme Court is used to having its decisions publicly criticized, but rarely in R-rated language spouted by a federal judge, who says the justices should just "stfu."

The remarks come from Nebraska-based Judge Richard Kopf, who has a reputation for provocative commentary on his personal blog.

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Kopf, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, criticized the high court's ruling last week in the so-called "Hobby Lobby" case.

The decision gave some for-profit businesses the right to deny birth control coverage to their employees if they opposed on religious grounds. The 5-4 decision against a provision of Obamacare was predictably divided in public opinion.

The senior judge made clear his views on Saturday.

"Five male Justices of the Supreme Court, who are all members of the Catholic faith and who each were appointed by a President who hailed from the Republican party, decided that a huge corporation, with thousands of employees and gargantuan revenues, was a 'person' entitled to assert a religious objection to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate because that corporation was 'closely held' by family members," he wrote. "To the average person, the result looks stupid and smells worse."

And he went further. "Next term is the time for the Supreme Court to go quiescent-- this term and several past terms has 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. As the kids say, it is time for the Court to stfu."

Kopf helpfully linked to the Urban Dictionary to help decipher the popular acronym.

It is not the first time his words have attracted attention on his blog, which he describes as enlightening "the role of the federal trial judge."

During last year's budget battle in Washington and partial government shutdown, Kopf spoke for many federal judges in expressing frustration over forced furloughs and reduction of court services.

But most judges hold their tongue on such matters, in an effort to appear above the fray.

Not Kopf: "Tell Congress to go to hell-- all federal court employees are essential."

And he was criticized for a March blog posting entitled: "On being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress."

He later offered his regrets at the comments, saying, "The only thing bigger than my ass is my ego."

There was no immediate reaction from the Supreme Court to Kopf's latest comments, and unclear whether the 68-year-old judge would be subject to some internal sanction.

CNN spoke with Kopf's office, which had no comment other than to confirm the latest posting was his.

Federal judges in particular have to adhere to a Code of Conduct, which says in part they "should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."

Moreover, it also says they must avoid even the appearance of impropriety. This prohibition covers professional and personal conduct.

The wide-ranging and often deeply personal thoughts on Kopf's blog-- which he has authored since February 2013-- reflect what he says is a desire that "federal trial judges be seen as individuals with all the strengths and weaknesses (baggage) that everyone else carries around."

In the wake of the "stfu" comment, he is again rethinking his online future.

He wrote on Monday: "Blogging will be light while I figure this out. While I will make up my own mind, advice (anonymous or otherwise), particularly from experienced lawyers and judges, would be welcome."

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