THE SUPREME Court, the one in Washington with "Equal Justice Under Law" carved in marble at its entrance, is finding new ways to slam its doors on poor people. It declared the other day that henceforth petitioners who submit "frivolous or malicious" petitions would be denied the privilege of filing them free even if they were too poor to pay court costs. The announced purpose is to relieve the court of burdens caused by "those who would abuse the integrity of our process."
It's a silly, mean gesture, unworthy of a court whose justices are sworn to "do equal right to the poor and to the rich."
All the justices recognize that their courthouse, like courthouses everywhere, is the target of frequent filers -- mostly writ-writing prisoners lodging inarticulate, repetitious claims. Some of those pauper petitions, however, hold a germ of legal substance and often present important legal issues that should interest the court.