Travis County, TX Judge Sarah Eckhardt took a cheap shot at Texas Governor Greg Abbott during a Texas Tribune Festival panel on progressive activism. Abbott has been paralyzed from the waist down since 1984 when a large oak tree fell on him while jogging. He was 26 years old.
The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson tweeted that Eckhardt was discussing the Texas legislature’s decision to “override local ordinances like Austin’s tree ordinance.” She joked that “Gov. Abbott hates trees because one fell on him.”
Davidson noted that the crowd laughed.
At #TribFest19 panel on progressive activism, @JudgeEckhardt, talking about #txlege overriding local ordinances like Austin’s tree ordinance, says Gov. Abbott “hates trees because one fell on him.” The crowd laughs.
— John Daniel Davidson (@johnddavidson) September 27, 2019
Texas Republicans were quick to call Eckhardt out on this remark.
Travis County Republican Chairman Matt Mackowiak issued a statement saying that Eckhardt’s comments were “disgusting.” He said, “Judge Eckhardt apparently believes that his disability is open to ridicule if it helps her make a political argument. This joke represents a profound lack of compassion from Judge Eckhardt … There is no place for insulting Americans with disabilities and Judge Eckhardt should know better.”
Texas state senator Kelly Hancock tweeted: “Absolutely classless comment! @GovAbbott is a shining example to all Texans of someone who overcame adversity with a smile, a LOT of hard work, and a positive attitude.”
And Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) reacted by tweet writing, “What an unbelievably stupid thing to say about @GovAbbott or anyone. Taking steps to lessen the negative consequences of Austin’s nutball policy-making is hardly a basis to attack the Governor for a tragic injury which he has demonstrated steadfast determination to overcome.”
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt apologized late Friday for saying Gov. Greg Abbott “hates trees because one fell on him," during a panel discussion at The Texas Tribune Festival. https://t.co/jC1ziF4fXM
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) September 28, 2019
Eckhardt issued a statement on Friday evening apologizing for her “inappropriate” comment:
In my panel today at the Texas Tribune Festival on ‘Public Enragement’ I spoke about the importance of being able to disagree without being disagreeable. Then I said something disagreeable. I want to apologize to Governor Abbott. I made a flippant comment that was inappropriate. The comment did nothing to further the debate I was participating in, much less further the political discourse in our community, state, and nation. While the Governor and I disagree on a number of issues, that is no excuse to be disagreeable.
“Disagreeable” and “inappropriate” don’t begin to describe Eckhardt’s comment. It was cruel, thoughtless and disrespectful and it has no place in political debate. Is there no line liberals won’t cross in their references to conservatives?
Eckhardt should step down immediately. I can’t imagine being a conservative in her courtroom. Thank God President Trump is making so much progress in reshaping the courts.