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'Tale of Two Justices'

August 23, 1986

Your editorial (Aug. 13), "Tale of Two Justices," smacks of a call for civil disobedience. You agree that those who argue against William H. Rehnquist and Rose Elizabeth Bird are "constitutionally correct" in their rights to decide the former's promotion and the latter's continued stay in office. Yet you hedge by stating, "But the nation and the state should be very careful about using these procedures, constitutionally defensible though they are." In other words, forget the Constitution; it doesn't conform to The Times' point of view.

There is little doubt, as you, yourselves, say that the role of the bench is, in the broadest sense of the word, political. So, too, is the appointment of judges at all levels. When the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution were formulated, fortunately wiser heads than yours saw to it that some measure of containment of abuse by politicians was reserved for the people. Granted the U.S. Senate is less contained than the voters of California, both have the opportunity to undo the politics of a President in one instance and a governor in the other.

It is interesting that both Rehnquist and Bird were appointed by executives who are no longer in the public favor. Since former President Richard Nixon and former Gov. Jerry Brown are now in political disfavor, why should their clones remain? Although Rehnquist will continue on the U.S. Supreme Court bench in any case, the voters of California can make known their recognition of the error made in the original appointment appointment of Justice Bird. Your editorial itself states: "We would not now choose either person for either job."

You are very magnanimous in conceding the right of others to see your arguments in favor of both justices differently and to act accordingly, but, in view of your usual liberal outlook, it is ludicrous that you advocate "an approach to the judiciary that is conservative in the fullest sense of the word." Don't make me laugh!

HASKELL COLLIER

Whittier

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