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Perceiving Justice

July 30, 1986

It seems strange that justice, like beauty, is perceived only in the eyes of the beholder.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently gave an indefinite stay of execution to two men in Florida who had been convicted of heinous, multiple murders, on the eve of their dates of execution. Seven of these justices are Republican appointees, normally conservative in their views, with only two of them harboring any strong feelings relative to capital punishment. Yet this otherwise conservative court granted indefinite stays to the perpetrators of the aforesaid crimes. There was no outbreak of cries for "impeachment," "get rid of them," "they are not obeying the law."

I sincerely believe that the vultures here in California, who are so desperately eager to replace Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird and her two colleagues, purely on the basis of their alleged opposition to capital punishment, might learn a valuable lesson from the above action of our Supreme Court. The highest court in the land obviously based its decision on constitutional grounds and not on its feelings about capital punishment. Yet when the California Supreme Court overturns a capital case there's a hue and cry for the head of Rose Bird.

The action of the U.S. Supreme Court justifies the reason for its existence. Our Founding Fathers wisely and fully realized the necessity for protecting the citizen on the street from the overpowering and frightening weight of the government, especially when the government overstepped its lawful bounds. The judiciary then, and now, was and is the only reliable and constant restraint against wholesale tyranny on the part of the government and/or its agencies.

To permit these unprecedented attacks on our judiciary in California by the executive department of government to succeed and to place judicial decisions in the hands of politicians, would mean to destroy the "checks and balances" so carefully included in the Constitution and to make this a state controlled by men and not by law!

Justice Bird epitomizes the need for a person with her incisive judicial mind and the "guts" to persevere against the insidious right-wing attacks on the very heart of our democratic way of life. We need her; let's work for her and let us all vote for her!

ALLAN A. FISHMAN

La Mesa

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