- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2005

Misinformation about judges

I read with amazement Carl Tobias’ letter decrying Sen. Bill Frist’s filibuster offer (“Frist’s empty filibuster offer,” Monday).

I’m amazed that the left is still using the same worn-out playbook to get their way, even when they are in the minority. One of Mr. Tobias’ ploys is to count how many judges on each court were appointed by Republicans and how many by Democrats.

How about simply looking at how judges will interpret the Constitution instead of making up rights as we go along? Why is it so important to know which party nominated them?

Mr. Tobias further uses one of the left’s worst-smelling red herrings — “extremist” judges — better known as California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown and Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen. For more about Justice Brown, see Nat Hentoff’s well-documented column on Monday’s Op-Ed page, “Stereotypes and filibusters.”

Mr. Hentoff makes the simple case for confirming Justice Brown.

As for Justice Owen, the left seems to be all a-twitter because of one opinion in Texas. That opinion said an underage girl should not be allowed an abortion without her parents’ notification and approval.

Now we know what the left means by extremist — allowing parents to be parents. Remember, in accordance with the Constitution, it is the president’s duty to appoint judges and the Senate’s duty to advise and consent.

We the people elected George Bush president, not a group of 41 Democratic senators. It’s time to put the 2000 election behind us and look forward. If liberals want to appoint judges, they have to win at the ballot box with their ideas instead of appointing judges who will legislate them from the bench.

ROBERT DUFRANE

Fairfax

Lesson from ‘runaway bride’

While the story of Jennifer Wilbanks (“There goes the runaway bride,” Op-Ed, Monday) is sad for family members as well as frustrating and angering for many citizens, there is a take-home message. The clear-cut evidence is that Miss Wilbanks constructed a well-planned and premeditated departure.

The take-home message has to do with “crying wolf” — or, less politely, lying. This message is critical for evaluating all the apparently spontaneous and heartfelt claims of domestic violence or child sexual abuse that routinely emerge in divorce proceedings. In divorce, one always must ask: How many of these claims are premeditated?

This message also should be of concern to members of Congress as they weigh renewal of the Violence Against Women Act. In my view, the Wilbanks story should used to broaden the act to include battered men and battered children as well as battered women. It is not hard to find emotionally abused and battered men, women and children in this story — one need only look to family members, volunteers and the police.

GORDON E. FINLEY

Professor of psychology

Florida International University

Miami

Special treatment for tobacco firms

I am writing this letter in regard to the Op-Ed column “Lighten up on smokers,” (May 8), I disagree with Doug Bandow that Congress should “lighten up” in its anti-smoking effort. Smoking is harmful to the health of people, and if we continue to “lighten up” regarding this issue, many more people will die. Congress’ effort is a step in the right direction. The Kennedy-DeWine bill to grant the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products would end Congress’ special treatment of the tobacco industry, warn people about the harmful effects of tobacco use and reduce the number of deaths.

If the bill passes, tobacco products will be subject to the same consumer protections as food. These protections include the listing of all ingredients and honest packaging and advertising.

People would be warned about the harmful effects of tobacco use because more health warnings would be used. False gimmicks would no longer be permitted, such as “reduced-risk products” which claim they have “All of the taste, less of the toxins.”

If this bill is passed, the number of deaths will be reduced. More Americans are killed every year by using tobacco than by AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides and fires combined.

If Mr. Bandow wants the death toll to continue rising, I can see why he would disagree with this bill. However, if he is interested in a change for the better, with people no longer deceived and many lives saved, he may want to reconsider his position.

THERESA DAVIES

Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

Mayor Williams and tort reforma

The day he was shot, President Reag

an famously quipped to his attending physicians, “I hope you’re all Republicans.” Of course, politics ought to have nothing to do with whether citizens can access quality health care.

Unfortunately, legal reform frequently is oversimplified as a battle between Republicans and Democrats, when, in fact, responsible leaders from both parties embrace the need for change. A case in point is Democratic D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who just proposed reform of medical-malpractice insurance (“Committees to scrutinize tort reform,” Metropolitan, May 8), demonstrating that the issue is defined not by right and left but by right and wrong.

The mayor’s initiative would help ensure that D.C. residents have access to affordable, high-quality health care. Such care has grown increasingly out of reach in recent years because of exorbitant insurance costs that stem from outlandish court awards and the departure of physicians who fear being sued.

The problem is particularly acute with specialists practicing in areas that are inherently more risky but that provide lifesaving treatment. Unless the city addresses its looming crisis, residents will be forced to travel across the D.C. line to receive decent care.

No matter their politics, D.C. residents owe their mayor a debt of gratitude and should urge the City Council to pass this much-needed reform without delay.

DAN PERO

President

American Justice Partnership

Washington

No end in sight

In his Wednesday article “War in Iraq looks like last stand for al Qaeda,” (Page 1) Rowan Scarborough greatly underestimates the Iraqi component of the insurgency. Indeed, in addition to a more sizable and robust former regime presence than Mr. Scarborough concedes, there is resistance from numerous militant Islamic Iraqis, many of whom are operating alongside al Qaeda-linked foreign fighters.

Although far from adequately controlled, Iraq’s borders are somewhat less porous than they were, say, a year or two ago, compelling such militants to recruit more heavily inside Iraq. This is why such groups are able to replace losses and rebound so rapidly. Unfortunately for coalition and Iraqi government forces, one of the strengths of the insurgency lies in this diversity: Destroying al Qaeda in Iraq (even if that difficult chore could be completed successfully) would not bring an end to significant armed resistance.

WAYNE E. WHITE

Adjunct scholar

Middle East Institute

Alexandria

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