- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 17, 2007

Simply ridiculous

In “A $54 million lawsuit” (Op-Ed, Wednesday), Karen Harned and Sherman Joyce urge D.C. officials to remove Roy Pearson from his post as an administrative law judge. Mr. Pearson is suing his dry cleaners for $54 million for losing his pants.

D.C. officials wrongly believe Mr. Pearson is shielded from discipline by the First Amendment, whose freedom-of-petition clause protects a citizen’s right to bring non-frivolous lawsuits. But they are wrong, both because Mr. Pearson’s suit has frivolous elements and because he is a public employee and thus is held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens.

While ordinary citizens can’t be punished for suing, public employees often can. A public employee like Mr. Pearson can be disciplined if his suit undermines his employer’s mission or interests or if it is so petty that it does not involve a matter of public concern.

Mr. Pearson’s suit is so ridiculous that it undermines confidence in the legal system and the D.C. government. So, he can be fired without violating the First Amendment.

HANS BADER

Counsel for special projects

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington

It’s a soap opera

I agree with Paul Greenberg that “The Sopranos,” a soap opera about dysfunctional families, criminal and other, is hardly worth the newsprint and encomiums bestowed on it (“The Soprano effect,” Commentary, Friday).

At the risk of being labeled a curmudgeon, I suspect that all this praise takes origin from those with active fantasy lives which occasionally supplant the more humdrum life of reality we must all endure. Crime, the more lurid the better, sells, as do families in crisis.That is why my local newspaper devotes so much space to these types of stories.

Now, I yield to no one in my praise of television and agree again with Mr. Greenberg that there have been shows of surpassing interest. They have in common, beside the excellent production values, that one can learn something from watching them.

And that is what sticks in my craw about “The Sopranos.” Just what did it teach?

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