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Rejection of Rose Bird

November 11, 1986

Wherever he is, the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) must have felt vindicated by the multiple lynching of our three Supreme Court justices on Nov. 4. Unfortunately, Boston attorney Joseph Welch wasn't around to balance out the process and there was no impartial arbiter guided by a set of fair rules to govern the proceedings.

The only real record of the justices was their written decisions, which cannot ethically be discussed by them. Presumably, they have to stand up and take those charges "like a man" or "a woman," as the case may be.

Some few voters (mostly lawyers) had views based on a reading and understanding of some decided cases (criminal and civil) that caused them to oppose Chief Justice Bird. Most voters based their votes against Bird on what they perceived her death penalty views to be. Outside of lawyers, no one seemed to know anything about Justices Grodin and Reynoso. They weren't even discussed. It would be hard to find a more ironic or anomalous guilt by association result than the defeat of those justices.

The new message for justices from voters must be "to vote our views on the issues (not the law) or we will vote you out." This is a sad moment for the judicial process. Hopefully it doesn't warrant black armbands.

GERSON JEROME

Los Angeles

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