Packwood's RightsAs one who has lived in countries where...


September 16, 1995

Packwood's Rights

As one who has lived in countries where the constitutional protections we take for granted do not exist, I am appalled at the Senate Ethics Committee's handling of Sen. Robert Packwood.

While I abhor Mr. Packwood's conduct, I more strongly disapprove of the committee's unwillingness to afford him the rights guaranteed any accused by the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

Amendment IV guarantees the right of people to be secure in their personal papers, yet they seized his personal diaries. (Why do people in public life keep diaries?) Amendment V says no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process, yet a panel voted to deprive him of the seat in the Senate to which the people of Oregon elected him.

The decision of the Senate panel not to allow him public hearings in which he could face his accusers, several of whom filed anonymous complaints, violates Amendment VI.

When did Barbara Mikulski and her feminist friends repeal these three amendments? While Mr. Packwood probably deserved to be expelled and probably would have been eventually, the way it was done would have been more appropriate had he been afforded constitutional guarantees.

Chuck Frainie


Missing Kunstler

I appreciated your Sept. 8 editorial, ''William Kunstler's Footsteps.'' I had the fortunate opportunity to work for him throughout law school, and his example has significantly influenced the way I practice law.

The controversy that always surrounded Mr. Kunstler was a result of his deep commitment to speak out hard and loud for the people he represented. The general public often did not like what he had to say. This was because they did not like the people he represented.

His clients were chosen, not because they could pay the most, but instead because they were challenging the powerful or were victims of the powerful.

He aligned himself with the people at the bottom. He aligned himself with the people who were questioning government. He valued people over authority, radicals over conformers and, most of all, justice over legal ritual. It is this last value that always caused such derision from the legal establishment. The American Bar Association denunciation that your editorial describes was one among many condemnations directed at Mr. Kunstler. They had to accept the premise that the persecuted deserved a lawyer, but not one who fought as hard and flamboyantly as he did. Advocacy for those who could pay exorbitant legal fees ''is a badge of honor'' for some attorneys, as you reported, but unacceptable when done on behalf of people the mainstream legal community saw as undesirable.

For over 30 years, we heard his voice again and again. He spoke out going to court, in court, leaving court and out of court. He spoke at Attica with prisoners, at Wounded Knee with Native Americans, at Catonsville and Chicago with protesters, in Birmingham with Martin King, and in the Bronx with Larry Davis. Right up to his death, he continued to advocate on behalf of the people he saw as marginalized and persecuted.

His wispy hair and glasses ever precariously balanced on his forehead became a symbol for the rights of all people against government and power. In that sense he didn't just speak for his clients. He spoke for all of us who are concerned about human rights. Many people within the legal community and without are concerned about these same issues, and they will continue to be raised.

Yes, Bill Kunstler's voice will be sorely missed.

David Walsh-Little


B6 The writer is director, Sowebo Center for Justice.

Country Life

O.K., O.K., so I'm a city jerk. Always was, probably always will be. I live in the country now, but only because it costs less.

The thing that repels me most about country living is its values, especially as they relate to guns. On being shown into the living room of a country home, one looks to the fireplace and usually, reverently in place over the mantle, is a gun. A huge one.

This is understandable: the rifle, whatever, is the weapon by which John Q. Bumpkin's forefather achieved his status as a property owner. But the kneeling and scraping, the bowing, the reverence, the -- jeez!

The country is a lovely place to visit, but I prefer living in the city. So what if the city gunslinger carries his weapon in an inner

pocket and uses it far too often? I still prefer city life.

dith P. Cockey



I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut that Richard Ochs ("Bombing Hiroshima Was a Capitalist Crime," letter, Sept. 2) is a member of the New Party. I am a moderate Republican, yet much of what they stand for I can endorse: Publicly funded elections, strong environmental policies and racial and gender equality. But to say bombing Hiroshima was a capitalist crime and capitalistic competition led to two world wars is nonsense. This is warmed-over Marxism.

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