September 16, 2004
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Letters to the Editor

Law from whole cloth
    Bruce Fein gets it all wrong when critiquing Phyllis Schlafly's book "The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It" ("Courts run amok?" Op-Ed, Tuesday).
    Mr. Fein scolds Mrs. Schlafly for not having sufficient fear of the majority, pointing out, correctly, that "the Founding Fathers most feared majority oppression." Amazingly, Mr. Fein then devotes almost the entirety of his commentary to proving that the Supreme Court is not to be overly feared because it has a better-than-200-year history of service to majority will, no matter how often that will undergoes massive changes. As Mr. Fein writes, "For more than two centuries, the Supreme Court has never persisted in affronting popular orthodoxies."
    Mr. Fein then cites several examples, going back to 1896, of the Supremes siding with majority sentiment. One may quibble, as I do, with whether those examples point to the Supremes siding with the majority or with liberal elite opinion, but nobody, not even Mr. Fein in this piece, will tell you that the Supreme Court does what it is supposed to do: simply interpret the Constitution, with no bias toward majorities, minorities, elites or any other interest group. That's with good reason, for as any conservative worth his salt knows, the Supreme Court has been making up law out of whole cloth since at least 1937.
    There are four constitutional methods for dealing with an arrogant Supreme Court. They are: amendments (which are rare and sometimes take decades to be enacted); new appointments (useless — no matter who appoints them, the justices generally do as they please); impeachments (a real laugher — when was the last Supreme Court justice impeached?); and amending the Supreme Court jurisdiction, a power granted to Congress in Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution. This step leaves no room for doubt and could be signed into law in days, as it takes just a simple majority vote in Congress and the President's signature.
    Mr. Fein does not tell us, but I would love to know why he endorses the first three methods while being adamantly opposed to the fourth, even though all four methods are part of the original Constitution that came out of Philadelphia in 1787.
    
    RICK LYNCH
    Purcellville, Va.
    
    
    
    End refugee warehousing
    We applaud Assistant Secretary of State Arthur E. Dewey's call to stop the "warehousing" of refugees in camps and urban ghettos and to bring them hope for a new life ("Unwarehousing refugees," Commentary, Friday).
    The remarkable rescues of the Lao Hmong and Meskhetian Turks this year illustrate the commitment and refugee rescue capability of the United States. With refugee advocates and faith-based communities across the country, we join the Department of State in welcoming these refugees and helping them feel at home again. We also recommit ourselves to stopping the warehousing of refugees and removing the barriers to their rescue. Of special concern are the 100,000 Bhutanese refugees whose lives have been on hold for 13 years in camps in Nepal.
    
    RALSTON DEFFENBAUGH JR.
    President
    Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
    Baltimore
    
    •
    
    We applaud Assistant Secretary of State Arthur E. Dewey's focus on warehoused refugees who "languish in dependency" and hopelessness. This massive deprivation of rights is illegal and immoral, and, as Mr. Dewey notes, we at the U.S. Committee for Refugees have made ending it our priority.
    Mr. Dewey reports the laudable progress that has been made in resolving refugee situations through resettlement and voluntary repatriation. However, the more than 8 million remaining warehoused refugees are human beings with rights to live in dignity and work legally — now, while they are still refugees. We welcome Mr. Dewey's recognition that the international community can and must do better.
    
    LAVINIA LIMON
    Executive director
    U.S. Committee for Refugees
    Washington
    End refugee warehousing
    We applaud Assistant Secretary of State Arthur E. Dewey's call to stop the "warehousing" of refugees in camps and urban ghettos and to bring them hope for a new life ("Unwarehousing refugees," Commentary, Friday).
    The remarkable rescues of the Lao Hmong and Meskhetian Turks this year illustrate the commitment and refugee rescue capability of the United States. With refugee advocates and faith-based communities across the country, we join the Department of State in welcoming these refugees and helping them feel at home again. We also recommit ourselves to stopping the warehousing of refugees and removing the barriers to their rescue. Of special concern are the 100,000 Bhutanese refugees whose lives have been on hold for 13 years in camps in Nepal.
    
    RALSTON DEFFENBAUGH JR.
    President
    Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
    Baltimore
    
    •
    
    We applaud Assistant Secretary of State Arthur E. Dewey's focus on warehoused refugees who "languish in dependency" and hopelessness. This massive deprivation of rights is illegal and immoral, and, as Mr. Dewey notes, we at the U.S. Committee for Refugees have made ending it our priority.
    Mr. Dewey reports the laudable progress that has been made in resolving refugee situations through resettlement and voluntary repatriation. However, the more than 8 million remaining warehoused refugees are human beings with rights to live in dignity and work legally — now, while they are still refugees. We welcome Mr. Dewey's recognition that the international community can and must do better.
    
    LAVINIA LIMON
    Executive director
    U.S. Committee for Refugees
    Washington
    
    
    Nonpartisan intelligence
    The questions regarding Rep. Porter J. Goss' partisanship put forth Tuesday by Democratic senators missed the mark ("Goss pledges 'nonpartisan' CIA," Nation, yesterday).
    Whether Mr. Goss approves of a future President Kerry's intelligence budget is not important. What is of major importance is whether Mr. Goss would, as Mr. Bush's second-term director of central intelligence, confirm faulty or misleading intelligence put forth by the Bush administration.
    We still do not know to what extent the CIA manipulated intelligence on Iraq, specifically on weapons of mass destruction, to support the Bush administration's claims and plans.
    The CIA must remain a nonpartisan organ of government and must never be used as a political tool. Judging by his record of strong Republican partisanship and defense of the Bush administration, we have no guarantees that Mr. Goss would not use his position to advance a politically motivated foreign-policy agenda.
    
    CARLOS STAGLIANO
    Washington
    
    
    Rather unconvincing
    Your editorial "A Rather false story" (Tuesday) pointed out a number of key inconsistencies about the CBS documents purported to be from the Texas Air National Guard. After viewing the documents online, however, I found what would seem to be the most glaring item that would suggest a huge hoax (and perhaps even a crime of forging official documents) has been perpetrated. The key item is in the May 4, 1972 "order" for Lt. George W. Bush to report for a physical. It lists the P.O. box number as 34567.
    This seems to be a joke, what with the consecutive numbers. More important, it suggests there were at least 34,567 boxes in the post office in question. The ZIP code on that letter is 77034, which is the Genoa post office, a branch office on the south side of Houston. By my simple multiplication and division calculations, that branch post office would have to have more than four football-field lengths of wall space to house the smallest type of post office box, which is roughly 5 inches by 6 inches, stacked 14 boxes high.
    It is beyond belief to think there could be that many boxes in a neighborhood post office or that the Genoa branch is big enough to hold that many boxes.
    
    C. TOM RUSH
    Warrenton
    
    
    The assault-weapons ban
    Regarding "Kerry hits Bush for lapse of gun ban" (Page 1, Tuesday): I am saddened and disappointed by the fact that our lawmakers have failed to take action to renew the 1994 assault-weapons ban, which expired this week despite the fact that a majority of Americans were in favor of extending it.
    As a result of this reckless negligence, it is easy for terrorists and others who would do harm to Americans to obtain military-style weapons that are designed to kill or injure as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.
    If our elected officials really care about homeland security and public safety, they must take action now and institute new measures to keep these deadly weapons off the streets. It's never too late to act for the public good.
    
    MARY T. SHAW
    Norristown, Pa.
    



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