Saturday Mailbox


September 17, 2005

Bush must seize chance to alter court's ideology

As President Bush appoints justices to the Supreme Court, it would be well for him to remember a few important facts - the most important of which is his pre-election promise to appoint conservative originalists to that court ("Roberts starts on path to confirmation," Sept. 12).

It is also important for him to remember that there is absolutely no justification for maintaining the status quo on the court.

There is no requirement - constitutional, legal, moral or otherwise - that retiring justices be replaced by new justices who replicate their judicial philosophy or are of the same sex or the same ethnic background.

Indeed, reason would dictate, that the conservative electorate that put Mr. Bush in office and gave him a similarly conservative Congress, would expect him to alter the status quo, by replacing so-called moderate justices such as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor with true conservatives.

The idea is not to maintain the current condition on the court but to change it; that cannot be done by looking for replacements who mirror the retiring justice's philosophical views.

The Democrats are desperate to have the court remain exactly as it currently is - that is, left-leaning and activist in philosophy.

There is a very basic reason for this: Democrats, who have lost power in the Congress, have found that they can now exercise power through the activism of sitting judges who are willing, if not anxious, to legislate from the bench.

And I would remind Mr. Bush that this opportunity to significantly affect the tenor of the court is one that does not frequently occur.

Robert Di Stefano


Prosecution plan bypasses prosecutor

I am writing to address several omissions in the editorial "Curbing gun violence" (Sept. 15) as well as Mayor Martin O'Malley's proposal to bypass the Baltimore state's attorney's office to direct federal Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) funds to the Baltimore City Solicitor's Office.

The editorial omitted the fact that Mr. O'Malley, City Solicitor Ralph Tyler, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Prosecutor Allen Loucks had a meeting in August, convened by Mr. O'Malley, and hatched a plan to direct LLEBG funds meant for local law enforcement efforts to the city solicitor's office.

Under the plan, the city solicitor would advertise and hire two prosecutors. These prosecutors would be "given" to the U.S. attorney's office to prosecute gun-possession cases.

The plan deliberately did not involve the state's attorney's office and did not have the benefit of our expertise as firearms prosecutors for most weapons cases in Baltimore.

This initiative is flawed and not in the interest of public safety. It is only designed to give Mr. O'Malley something to crow about on the campaign trail.

The city solicitor is not the elected prosecutor. He is an appointee of Mr. O'Malley.

I will not remain quiet as this mayor concocts a plan to bypass the elected prosecutor in a flawed scheme which will put the public at risk, erode employee moral and shows disrespect for the authority granted me by the constitution of this state.

I never have "played the race card." But when four powerful white men, one of whom is the mayor, bypass and refuse to consult the elected prosecutor, who is a black woman the mayor has publicly denigrated, questions need to be raised.

When the U.S. attorney's office refuses to answer questions raised by the elected prosecutor about a gun prosecution strategy that depends heavily on her office, questions need to be raised.

I take my responsibility as the elected prosecutor seriously. I will not abdicate my constitutional authority or prosecutorial responsibilities to the mayor or the city solicitor.

Patricia C. Jessamy


The writer is Baltimore's state's attorney.

Scapegoating gays no remedy for abuse

It amazes me that the small minority of gay people in America are continually blamed for the erosion of traditional values, when straight people are the only ones included in the traditional values paradigm.

Apparently, the preachers of "personal responsibility" refuse to apply the same standard to their own conduct or institutions, and the Catholic Church is no exception.

Authorities in the American Catholic hierarchy are considering barring celibate men "with strong homosexual inclinations" from the priesthood in response to the child sex abuse scandal ("Prelate says seminaries should bar men with strong gay `inclinations'," Sept. 13).

This stance is not only ill-informed, but at odds with the church's self-proclaimed acceptance of gay members if they remain celibate.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), "Another myth about homosexuality is the mistaken belief that gay men have more of a tendency than heterosexual men to sexually molest children. There is no evidence to suggest that homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to molest children."

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