Posted Aug 01, 2008 01:00 pm CDT
Your June cover photo is, to say the least, in very poor taste. No matter how one feels about the action (or inaction) of the other branches of the federal government regarding appointment of federal judges, your use of the milk carton to make any point does a disservice to those who suffer through situations where their relatives’ or loved ones’ pictures have ended up on milk cartons because they are missing. Shame on you for doing so, whether to make a point or as a weak attempt at humor.
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Regarding “Judges: They’re Just Like Us,” June: In the movie Jurassic Park, when confronted with problems besetting the opening of the fictional amusement park, the owner and designer claimed that even Disneyland had bugs and problems at inception. The retort was, “Yeah, but if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the customers.”
Likewise, when a judge makes mistakes, the geometric ripple effect is astounding. An innocent person loses liberty, a guilty one goes free, the families of both the innocent and the victims suffer, and society is deprived of the justice it cherishes and deserves.
Incorrect answers on MIT’s cognitive reflection test provide a perfect example of a lack of concentration and attention to detail. Those I gave the test to immediately saw their errors, shrugged their shoulders and put palm to forehead. They oversimplified, answered too quickly or looked for a nonexistent trick.
Likewise, judges who oversimplify, rush to judge or look for a nonexistent conspiracy are doomed to convict all too often.
If we accept judges to be like the average person, why not the brain surgeon, rocket scientist or cancer researcher? Judges hold the life and liberty of the community in each decision. We shouldn’t accept the mindset that it’s OK to have them be just like us. We need—no, we demand—them to be better.
Prosecutors and defense counsel are advocates for their respective clients. The judge has but one master—justice. The judge is the trustee of our liberty, a fiduciary—not to any political agenda or to rid society of who they deem bad people, but solely as a holder of the legal estate. We accept all too often that justice doesn’t enter the courtroom.
I’m not worried about the bad judge who goes astray; I’m worried about the judicial decisions we don’t hear about—those that affect so many lives on a daily basis, bad decisions that don’t rise to the level of appeal. We accept commonplace in our courtrooms, but not on the football field. What’s wrong with that picture?
The article “Advice of Consul,” June, misses the mark. As the Constitution requires, international treaties are indeed the law of the land, except to the extent they are inconsistent with a subsequently passed statute. The U.S. Supreme Court simply held: First, that it, rather than a supranational body outside the U.S., is the final arbiter of the interpretation of the words and provisions of a treaty as U.S. law; and, second, that the treaty in question does not provide a right of action to individuals.
Reasonable people could argue either side of the second point, but the first is hardly surprising or objectionable.
Thanks for the back-page tribute to Flag Day using the Barnette ruling (“Precedents,” June). Given the political climate in the U.S. today, we all need to be reminded often of Justice Robert H. Jackson’s warning against orthodoxy in matters of opinion; and, by implication, that religion, nationalism and politics are matters of opinion.
Janet C. Cook
In “Still No Bed of Roses,” June, a Tampa, Fla., divorce lawyer who is a partner at Harris & Hunt was mistakenly identified as Nancy Hunt. Her name is Nancy Harris.
The Journal regrets the error.