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Justices Cannot Escape the Tug of Their Politics

January 18, 2003

Re "The Timing Game That Justices Play," Commentary, Jan. 13: Steven Calabresi and Ilya Somin are correct when they assert that judicial retirements are often timed by political considerations. This only reinforces another truth: Justices are political actors. As a result, constitutional interpretation is influenced by the political philosophy and predilections of the justices.

Lawyers who are Democrats are more sensitive to the Bill of Rights and to voter considerations when it comes to the powers of the Congress; Republican lawyers are less sensitive to the Bill of Rights and personally ideological when it comes to the powers of the Congress. Legal craftsmanship has nothing to do with interpretation of the Constitution. That being the case, why should only lawyers be appointed to the Supreme Court?

Gerald E. Kerns

Professor Emeritus

Political Science

University of Dayton, Ohio

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How interesting that on the same day that Justice Antonin Scalia is quoted as saying the courts have gone overboard on keeping God out of government ("Courts Bungle Church-State Issues: Scalia," Jan. 13) there is another article detailing the anti-choice agenda of a Christian group that has been contracted to teach sex education in Bay Area public schools ("Sex Education Classes Make Parent Uneasy").

Patricia L. Firestone

Santa Monica

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