Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, recently accused of trying to intimidate a U.S. senator over a piece of legislation, said last night he would not be "deterred from letting the Congress, the President and the people . . . know what is needed in the judicial system."
Burger said he "may well . . . have been too circumspect, too cautious, too restrained in pressing the needs of the courts" when compared to his 14 predecessors.
He spoke in New York City, where he became the third recipient of the annual Fordham Law School-Stein Award for "outstanding contributions to . . . the advancement of justice."
A test of his prepared remarks were made available by the Supreme Court press office in Washington.
One of Burger's principal points, was that judges have "an absolute obligation" to participate in the legislative process as it affects the judiciary.
This wasn't at issue on Oct. 6, when Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), disclosed that Burger had phoned him angrily after the House had approved a compromise bill to make drastic changes in the system for administering the bankruptcy laws.
The Judicial Conferencee of the United States, which is the federal judiciary's policymaking body, and which is headed by the chief justice, publicly opposed key provisions of the bill. In the Senate, jurisdiction over the bill was a Judiciary subcommittee headed by DeConini, one of the seators who had helped to develop the compromise.
What riled DeConcini, who said he had "no bone to pick" with the chief justice, was Burger's manner when he apparently "just lost his temper, and I happened to be on the other end of the phone."
DeConini said that a "very, very irate and rude" chief justice "yelled at me that I was irresponsibile", "just screamed at me," and "not only lobbied, but pressured and attempted to be intimidating."
At the time, court press officer [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]