Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 05, 2004

Rightist justices pose big threat to our liberties

In "Justices show the danger of idle hands" (Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 23), Steve Chapman points out that our current Supreme Court is taking fewer cases and producing less than half as many decisions as the court did in the 1970s, and he concludes that "we need a busier Supreme Court." I would argue that we need a different Supreme Court.

The court that we have is dominated by conservatives. The votes of Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist are totally predictable on major cases. They are extreme right-wing ideologues whose minds are made up in advance.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor often join them in 5-4 decisions supporting the convenience of the government, state's rights and religious interests against the rights of the individual and the separation of church and state.

There are now rumors that Justice Rehnquist or Justice O'Connor might soon retire, and Justice John Paul Stevens, a moderate, is in his 80s. The next president may well replace all three.

If President Bush is re-elected and a few more compliant Republicans are added as rubber stamps in the Senate, any Supreme Court vacancies will surely be filled by right-wing extremists.

For any hope of a better Supreme Court, we've got to replace Mr. Bush this year. Otherwise, we will soon have a First Amendment that means nothing, an increasingly Big Brother-style government watching us, and the religion of whoever is in the majority in any locale in our public buildings (including schools).

For me, it's not Iraq that is the most important issue in national politics. It's the Supreme Court and the future of our individual rights.

Whatever we do in some foreign land, if we don't have freedom with justice here, what are we fighting for?

Kenneth A. Stevens

Savage

An unbroken pattern of bias in housing

The Sun's coverage of courtroom arguments in the public housing families' desegregation case of Thompson vs. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development leaves the misimpression that there is insufficient evidence of the unbroken pattern of segregation in Baltimore's public housing from the 1930s to the present ("Schmoke role in housing assailed," Dec. 24). Nothing could be further from the truth.

During his courtroom testimony, even HUD's historical expert marveled at the quality and quantity of historical evidence that had been culled from government archives and current government files and painstakingly analyzed.

The record is indeed a rich and detailed account of the political process that swirled around race and public housing for decades and -- from the public housing families' perspective -- a tragic account of opportunities lost.

Regardless of the result in this trial, the evidence is there for all to see, and we are making arrangements for it to be archived so that future generations will have this unique insight into the forces that shaped our city.

Ultimately, of course, history will be the judge.

Sally T. Grant

Baltimore

The writer is president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland's Board of Governors.

Remember carnage that's closer to home

We ought to be equally concerned about the killing of Americans in Baltimore as we are about the killing of Americans in Baghdad ("Homicide rate rises, reversing city trend," Jan. 1).

Our notion of homeland security should be expanded to protect those under attack by urban terrorists.

McNair Taylor

Baltimore

Martin's Senate race boosts Bush's agenda

In my humble Afro-centric feminist's opinion, I believe that Eileen Martin has entered the Republican U.S. Senate primary to help President Bush use his political influence to legally and constitutionally overturn the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision and end legal abortion in America ("Eileen Martin: Cooking up a challenge," Dec. 28).

As I see it, President Bush seems to have a born-again opinion of the "oppression of women" that is both traditional and Bible-based in conservative politics.

If Eileen Martin wins the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, I suppose the new treat in the U.S. Senate will be baked chocolate-chip cookies served on "privileged" country club napkins for the well-educated "Bushie" conservatives.

Larnell Custis Butler

Baltimore

New Year's wishes for the disabled

Mike Bowler is becoming our hero. We are so pleased he included in his column "Some wishes for new year" (Dec. 31) the wish that "school systems would obey the law and provide appropriate education to students with disabilities."

As parents of a 2 1/2 -year-old boy who has significant disabilities, we are acutely aware of the challenges we face in our goal to integrate our son in typical classroom settings.

Repeatedly, we have found that it is not our son's disabilities themselves that are most difficult for us to deal with but the misperceptions and prejudices of others that are imposed upon us because of his disabilities.

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