A Voice in the Crowd
The primary concern of all those who have anything to do with courts of law is that they, whether attorney or client, plaintiff or defendant, prosecutor or accused, receive a fair and impartial hearing. Since everyone may, at some time, be involved in the legal process, we all need to be deeply concerned that judges be unbiased and open minded.
It appears that the president and his minions, including senators like Orrin Hatch and congressmen like Tom DeLay, are in the camp of radical religionists Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and their kind.
Robertson was recently quoted as saying that liberal activist judges are, destroying the fabric which holds our nation together. He deems them, more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings.
In other words, Robertson appears to be saying that his morality is the fabric of which he speaks. But, except for those generally accepted taboos such as murder, theft and other crimes against persons which are defined by criminal laws, morality is a matter of personal choice. The freedom to choose ones friends, beliefs or lifestyle is a persons inalienable and most valuable right.
All of the current complaints about liberal activist judges stem from an unfounded belief that this country began as and continues to be a Christian nation. That sanctimonious idea has been broadened by radical Christians to mean that their rigid rules of morality should apply to all of us. Unfortunately, most of the Christian community, despite its claim of tolerance, seems to go along with the extremists.
America has grown from first being a haven from religious intolerance into a place that welcomed all faiths and their respective moralities. It now appears that the same intolerance that drove the pilgrims from Europe is taking a firm hold in the highest positions in todays administration.
That administration obviously wants the ability, without opposition, to appoint judges who, because of their biases, will not give fair consideration to those whose views are opposite to theirs. Judges have always been required to set aside their own beliefs when ruling on issues before them. Partiality has no place in the courts.
What has held and still holds this nation together transcends the rules of any religion. Its partly the prospect of prosperity intimated by the American lifestyle, but mostly its the security of being able to make personal choices without the intervention of or preclusion by some authority.
Allowing a person his or her choice does nothing to impair someone elses ethic. If abortion offends your moral codedont have one. If one believes the gay lifestyle is immoral, it doesnt mean we all do or have to. Because the Bible represents truth for some doesnt mean it must for others.
The right of free choice must be protected. The only guarantee that it will be lies with the courts, but only if they remain fair, open-minded and impartial and independent of the other branches of government.
Jim Spelman is a Rockford resident and local attorney.
From the June 1-7, 2005, issue