Montgomery has fostered anti-Muslim bias and shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court




Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

It was only four months ago when Arizona’s Commission on Appellate Court Appointments rejected Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery for a seat on the state Supreme Court. The commission cited concerns that Montgomery lacks the basic fairness and impartiality required of a supreme court justice. Rather than a commitment to equality and respect for the rule of law, Montgomery brought a highly-politicized record of protecting the powerful and punishing the weak.

With Phoenix still reeling from police violence and revelations that dozens of active officers have made racist, violent, or hateful social media posts, many of which targeted Muslims directly, our community needs new Supreme Court justice who will help rebuild, not further erode, public trust in our justice system. The Commission got it right when it rejected Montgomery the first time, and it should again rebuff Montgomery in his second bid for one of the most powerful positions in Arizona.

Our state’s Supreme Court is entrusted to protect the equal rights of all Arizonans, an especially vital function for vulnerable and historically marginalized groups who lack political power. Justices must be objective and unbiased with a commitment to equality for all people. Montgomery, in contrast, has used his power to perpetuate the hateful and deeply damaging biases vividly depicted in the recently exposed law enforcement Facebook posts.

In 2014, Montgomery hired disgraced former FBI agent and anti-Muslim conspiracy-theorist John Guandolo to conduct an anti-terrorism training for local law enforcement. Guandolo has claimed that mosques are “organizing for armed confrontation with law enforcement,” spread rumors that high-ranking government officials are secretly working for the Muslim Brotherhood and most recently had a restraining order placed against him for assaulting a fellow sheriff who disagreed with Guandolo’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and strategies.

Local Muslim leaders, the ACLU and Arizona’s chapter of the Anti-Defamation League all objected strongly and publicly, leading both the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to decline to participate in the training. But in a truly disturbing response, Montgomery not only dismissed those concerns and held the training event in 2014, he doubled down on Guandolo. Between December 2015 and February 2017, Montgomery funneled $70,000 to the Arizona Police Association for additional Guandolo-led seminars.

Now the social media postings by Phoenix police uncovered by the Plainview Project confirmed our worst fears: the kind of attitudes Guandolo espoused have taken root with those who are charged with protecting us. Phoenix police officers called for banning the Quran, told Michelle Obama to leave the country and “take your gay Muslim husband with you,” and accused Muslims of being rapists and killers.

Racism and bias within law enforcement poses a real and imminent threat to our safety. We cannot trust officers with a history of violence and prejudice to fairly patrol and protect our communities, and we cannot allow those who have enabled this bigoted, us-vs-them culture of policing to hold positions of power.

Elected county attorneys like Bill Montgomery have enormous influence over policing, through their decisions whether to prosecute cases involving officers who have demonstrated racial bias, dishonesty or a tendency toward violence, and in the tone they set for law enforcement. And while many Phoenix leaders have sought to condemn the attitudes and actions of the officers who made hateful social media posts, Montgomery has remained silent. Rather, he has helped foster the attitudes and perceptions that have now surfaced very publicly.

Most troubling for a Supreme Court candidate, he seems unable to recognize where he has failed, admit wrongdoing, or consider perspectives not his own. Last month before the Judicial Selection Commission on behalf of the Muslim community, I stated that “instead of shielding us from hate, Bill Montgomery in 2014 brought the hate to our homes.”

Our community’s demands for accountability and reform require sweeping change and a variety of policy solutions, but among them is ensuring that Bill Montgomery, the elected prosecutor and top law enforcement official in Phoenix, is not appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court. To choose him now would only further stoke the mistrust of public leadership that is at a near boiling point.

Bill Montgomery wasn’t the right choice in March, and it’s even more clear that he isn’t the right choice now.

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Tabark Abdelhabib is an honors student at Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University. She is pursuing a career in public service and public policy with an emphasis on health policy. She is a student leader and activist that believes in the power of empathy. Abdelhabib founded One Resistance at ASU, a socio-political club with an emphasis on awareness on social issues. Over the past three years, she has been building the tools to build an inclusive campus culture as a Sun Devil Civility Facilitator.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Is this the same Maricopa County Attorney who enabled the local Muslim Community to present information to his 350 Deputy County Attorneys? Is this the same Maricopa County Attorney who vigorously prosecuted the individuals who committed crimes against the Tempe Islamic Center? Is this the same Maricopa County Attorney who regularly attends the Islamic Law Enforcement Association Meetings? If so, it sounds like Bill Montgomery is precisely the type of lawyer who should be our next Arizona Supreme Court Justice.

  2. It appears Tabark Abdelhabib only wants persons on the Arizona Supreme Court that agree with her narrow political-religious view of what living in Arizona should be. I will not get into whether her or others positions on social issues or religion are good or bad. That’s not what is in question. This attack is part of a coordinated campaign to deny Mr. Montgomery a position on the Arizona Supreme Court based on his personal beliefs and a falsely perceived reluctance by him to prosecute certain matters and manage the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in a manner some persons outside law enforcement think it ought to be done.
    Ms. Abdelhabib uses the tired tactics of the left to attack Mr. Montgomery’s professional and personal character without substantiation. For example, she boldly proclaims Mr. Montgomery has a “…highly-politicized record of protecting the powerful and punishing the weak.” No examples. No documentation of this astounding claim.
    Then it’s off to blame Mr. Montgomery for questionable social media posts by some police officers. She says, ”And while many Phoenix leaders have sought to condemn the attitudes and actions of the officers who made hateful social media posts, Montgomery has remained silent. Rather, he has helped foster the attitudes and perceptions that have now surfaced very publicly.” How? She doesn’t specify. He is the chief county law enforcement officer not the county thought policeman.
    It is not Mr. Montgomery’s job to be the monitor what people say in social media. That pesky First Amendment seems to trump any official efforts along those lines. Ms. Abdelhabib seems to blame problems with police officers social media posts on Mr. Montgomery when, in fact, his job is not to be a monitor of personal speech/thought. How has he “helped foster the attitudes and perceptions” she finds objectionable? She doesn’t say. She again offers no specifics of what he did or didn’t do but rather uses tired leftist tactics to attack all police/law enforcement and somehow links the generalities mentioned to an MCAO sponsored training held some five years ago.
    I attended the 2014 John Guandolo training she references. It was enlightening and disturbing to hear what he had to say. It was also enlightening and disturbing to see the attempts to silence Mr. Guandolo even before his presentation. Efforts by the groups she mentions to silence a voice of concern about potentially dangerous activities by a minority of persons makes me wonder what the real fear was then and now from those who don’t like what Mr. Guandolo has to say. Rather than attack his information they attack him and those who attend his training.
    Ms. Abdelhabib is not an unbiased observer here. She has previously spoken out against Mr. Montgomery’s candidacy for appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court. She says, “Most troubling for a Supreme Court candidate, he seems unable to recognize where he has failed, admit wrongdoing, or consider perspectives not his own.” That is simply not true and she again offers no substantiation beyond unsupported generalization.
    What she doesn’t like is how Mr. Montgomery has managed his office with integrity and attention to the law. Perhaps Ms. Abdelhabib should talk to Mr. Montgomery before besmirching his character. Perhaps she could learn how to consider perspectives not her own.
    Maricopa County has been well served by Bill Montgomery as County Attorney. Arizona will be well served having Bill Montgomery serve on the Supreme Court.

  3. for those who disagree , in the appointment of BM to Supreme court , the ACLU is sponsoring a protest July 25 th 4pm in front of his office. I know for a fact that BM , has not full filled his duties in one area, low priority to him. NO we do NOT need him on the Supreme ct, clean it up AZ !!!!

  4. Plain and simple. The Arizona Supreme Court does NOT need a highly controversial DA/prosecutor from the disgraced and corrupt Maricopa County Attorneys Office; an entrenched culture of convict-at-all-cost, abuse of power and a long history of prosecutorial malfeasance (see Andrew Thomas). Montgomery has never been a judge and is inexperienced and unfit (temperament, intolerant, bigoted) to jump from prosecutor to the top court — the Arizona Supreme Court! A court that needs to be diversified, unbiased and fair in dealing with all peoples’ lives.

  5. Plain and simple. The Arizona Supreme Court does NOT need a highly controversial DA/prosecutor from the disgraced and corrupt Maricopa County Attorneys Office; an entrenched culture of convict-at-all-cost, abuse of power and a long history of prosecutorial malfeasance (see Andrew Thomas). Montgomery has never been a judge and is inexperienced and unfit (temperament, intolerant, bigoted) to jump from prosecutor to the top court — the Arizona Supreme Court! A court that needs to be diversified, unbiased and fair in dealing with all peoples’ lives.

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