The Congressional Tri-Caucus Condemns Montana Judge’s Racist Rhetoric about President Obama

The Congressional Tri-Caucus



For Immediate Release: March 1, 2012

CHC Contact: Lesley Lopez

CAPAC Contact: Dan Lindner

CBC Contact: Stephanie Young




WASHINGTON, DC –Today, The Chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus condemned Chief Judge Richard Cebull of Montana for sending a racist email about President Obama. On Wednesday, Chief Judge Cebull admitted to forwarding an email, from his federal court-supplied email address, that made racist jokes about the President and compared interracial marriage to bestiality. Members of the Tri-Caucus released the following statements regarding Chief Judge Cebull’s actions:


Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez (TX-20), Chair of CHC:  “The actions of Chief Judge Cebull promote destructive and hateful attitudes that have no place in civil discourse and show a staggering lack of judgment. Federally appointed judges have a special responsibility to show impartiality so that Americans can maintain their trust in our nation’s legal system. We put laws in place to ensure all Americans are treated without bias and without racist overtones. It is gravely disappointing that Chief Judge Cebull failed to show the qualities his position as a federal official requires and that the American public deserves.


“To say that this type of behavior is indefensible and deeply disturbing is really to scratch at the surface of a deeper issue. His defense of his actions reveal that he clearly that he does not even understand that comparing interracial marriage to bestiality is racist and no matter what his intentions were, his actions were racist. To paraphrase Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. laws may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.  Given this display of overt racism, it would appropriate for Chief Judge Cebull to ponder whether his continued service as a federal judge has been irreparably compromised and that another career may be more appropriate for someone with his views and temperament.”


Congressman Emanuel Cleaver , II (MO-05) CBC Chair:  “Chief Judge Richard Cebull’s email was deplorable, shameful and inexcusable.  There is no way to shroud hatred under the cloak of differences in ideals. The email was blatantly racist and filled with the hateful rhetoric this country has strived so desperately to leave behind. An apology alone is not acceptable.


“As our nation continues to further evolve into a melting pot with people of different cultures and backgrounds, comments like this are beyond disrespectful and ignorant. As Americans, if we take a look in our own family history, those we deplore are more than likely to be a part of our family tree. We literally are all a part of each other.  It continues to be my hope that as we engage in political discourse we can simultaneously uphold civility.”


Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair:  “I am appalled at the lack of judgment displayed by Chief Judge Richard Cebull.  His admittedly racist email about President Obama is unbecoming for any public figure.  The American people expect their judges to behave with a higher level of discipline, and I join my Tri-Caucus colleagues in expressing my strong disappointment in his actions.”



Background:  Judge Richard Cebull has been Montana’s chief federal judge in Billings since 2008. He was appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush in 2001.

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