Supreme Court isn#039;t liberal

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 25, 2003

"Everyone's entitled to their own opinion - no matter how stupid it is."

That's not my quote, but it is my belief, after you edit the "stupid" part out. Like questions, I believe there are no stupid opinions, only uninformed ones.

This page in the newspaper is dedicated to those opinions and some I agree with, some I'm indifferent to, and some I simply find appalling. We try to represent many voices here, with columnists and letters to the editor. A quick Journalism 101 lesson for our readers now - the columnists are those whose opinions appear on a regular or semi-regular basis, like Jeffery Biggs or Nancy Blackmon. Or me. The editorial which appears under "Our View" is just that - our view, a general consensus held by the majority of the editorial staff at the newspaper. Notice I say majority - get two humans in a room, and they will never agree on everything. Get three journalists in a room and they never agree on anything. Letters to the editor are just that, letters from our readership commenting on local issues, reflecting on the contents of the paper, or, sometimes, simply making general observances or offering a community-wide "Thank you."

The editorial, unlike the columns and letters, are "unauthored." There is no byline, since it is a consensus opinion. Most of the time I agree with Our View, and when I don't, I'm in the minority and keep my mouth shut, saving my own opinion for this column.

The columns, however, are authored and despite the common misperception that most print journalists are sneaky post-hippie dope-smokin' liberals (a direct quote from someone I choose not to name), I found that most of the political columns we receive have a definite leaning toward the right. Now I don't smoke dope, and I don't consider my self sneaky, and I was born too late to be a hippie, post or other wise, but yeah, I'm a liberal. (Most of the time, anyway, with law enforcement being the main exception.)

Reading Gary Palmer's column in yesterday's edition of the Star-News really set the alarm bells off, not only for this card-carrying liberal, but for this journalist. Palmer insisted that Congress had the power to restrict the power of the courts. In other words, might over right. He had the nerve to cite our Founding Father's plan of a balance of power as a justification to upset that very balance. His arguments claimed that the liberals were using the Supreme Court to push their agenda, and the Democratic Congress of trying to load the Supreme Court with their own liberal nominees. Palmer insists that many federal judge's recent actions reflect their liberal inclination.

Excuse me? Has he checked out our Supreme Court Justices, the final arguing point for tricky Constitutional questions? Of them all, only John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg can carry the title of liberal, and that is by default. Stevens is the sole survivor of a much more liberal Supreme Court, replaced by moderates and conservatives as they retired.

Ginsburg's judgments are conservative as often as not, despite her "liberal" appellation.

Of the other Justices, Souter, O'Connor, and Kennedy are considered moderates and swing votes, basing their opinions

on the legal issue at hand, not the political agenda underfoot. If these so-called "liberals" were pushing their own interests ahead of the law, would Ginsburg, a strong advocate of women's rights, consistently rule against any situation that differentiate between men and women, even when it benefits the women?

Two borderline liberals, three moderates, and two staunch conservatives - Clarence Thomas and Antonin

Scalia. If there is an imbalance here, I don't believe it is on the liberal side. But I don't think there is an imbalance here. Two

liberals, two conservatives, and the three between them will ensure that all opinions are well represented in argument and thoughtfully ruled on. And then there's Chief Justice Rhenquist

whose court has been considered, imagine this - conservative.

The balance of power's just that - balance.

Giving Congress the go ahead to "limit the jurisdiction of the courts"

is a frightening concept, especially in light of other rights we have had to compromise in the wake of September 11. Next, will Palmer decide the Congress should go ahead and "limit the jurisdiction" of the President, should Bush's plans reflect a "liberal" concept?

Palmer claims that the federal courts are "denying us the ability to govern ourselves." In my opinion, Congress is doing that on its own, using the Patriot Act as a justification for eroding far more of our Constitutional rights than the courts have. Allowing Congress to limit the courts is an imbalance of power - and an invitation to disaster.

So - that's my opinion. I'm sure there are plenty who will disagree, and to paraphrase a wiser soul than I, I will defend your right to disagree with me to my dying breath. It is your Constitutional right and no one- not Congress, not the President, and not the Courts should be able to take that away.