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Legislating Away Our Bill of Rights

June 01, 2003

There has been another assault on our Bill of Rights ("Court Gives Leeway to Interrogate," May 28). In its recent ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the case of Chavez vs. Martinez that the police and government investigators can force a person to talk, as long as those admissions are not used to prosecute the person. According to your article, Justice Clarence Thomas' view is that "despite a common perception, the Constitution does not bar police from using pressure -- short of torture -- to obtain information from suspects or witnesses." It seems that another common perception is that we live in a free country and under the protection of the Bill of Rights. That perception also is no longer true.

Leon M. Salter

Los Angeles

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An Oxnard police officer shoots an innocent bystander, paralyzing and blinding him and then mercilessly interrogates him in the ambulance and at the hospital. The unyielding interrogation continues even though the officer believes the victim is dying. With all this, the paragon of individual freedom, Justice Thomas, has the audacity to describe the police behavior as not "egregious" or "conscience-shocking." If this is the philosophy of judicial restraint we can continue to expect from Republican nominees to the court system, I plead with the Democrats to keep up the filibuster against the Bush nominees. Confirmation of these right-wing nominees as judges would indeed be egregious and conscience-shocking.

Ken Goldman

Beverly Hills

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