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'Proper Role as a Judge'

August 13, 1985

Moore is correct. A justice of the California Supreme Court--or any other judge--should be voted out of office only if that judge's decisions have not been representative of the constitutional role of a judge.

In the present case, Chief Justice Bird has been accused of improper judicial conduct by usurping the legislative role, for instance, by invariably voting to reverse a death penalty sentence, thereby disregarding U.S. Supreme Court decisions concerning capital punishment.

Bird has attempted to stifle discussion of her judicial record by invoking an ancient, universal political defense: Respect for the uniform demands respect for its wearer. In short, she has argued that as a justice of the California Supreme Court she is above accountability merely because she is a member of the court--a line of argument that will not likely persuade voters to believe that an attack on her judicial performance is the same as an attack on the judiciary.

The reconfirmation process provides citizens with the duty of judging whether or not Bird has stepped outside the proper role of the judiciary and taken the law into her own hands by usurping the legislative role. If citizens believe that Bird has acted improperly, they can render a verdict that the court cannot reverse.

DONALD E. WATSON

Santa Ana

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