- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 20, 2002

Noble: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White, for a lifetime of reticence in speech, reluctance for the spotlight and rousing personal achievement.

Justice White was the Clark Kent of law a mild-mannered man with a first-class mind and a handshake that could crush a gavel. There might never be another man who leads the NFL in rushing the same year he graduates first in his class at Yale Law School, as Justice White did. However, he never liked to talk about his football career, even though "Whizzer," as he was nicknamed on the gridiron, had been a college All-American and the highest-paid pro athlete of his time.

In fact, Justice White didn't like to talk that much at all he was known for his judicial restraint, which even spilled over into terse questions and brief opinions. "The court is most vulnerable and comes closest to illegitimacy when it deals with judge-made constitutional law having little or no recognizable roots in the language or design of the Constitution," he wrote in one opinion supporting states' rights. Shortly after his dissenting vote in Roe vs. Wade, he told an associate, "Justices have an exaggerated view of their role in our polity."

He served on the Supreme Court for 31 years, after being appointed in 1962 by his Oxford friend and World War II associate, John F. Kennedy. During that time, he retained his skepticism, independence and commitment to the rights of individuals as enumerated in the Constitution.

Perhaps one comfort in losing this friend of civil liberties is the knowledge that Calvin Coolidge has gained a new friend not that they will have much to say to one another.


Knave: Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Georgia Democrat, for a continuing stream of resistance to reason, reckless posturing and outrageous personal remarks.

Mrs. McKinney is an indecorous demagogue with a mouth that does most of her thinking. She was Knaved last October for requesting a $10 million check in Palestinian propaganda offered by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to then-mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, ostensibly to support the victims of September 11, but coming with the price of the mayor's support of a press release denouncing Israel.

Perhaps disappointed by her failure to procure at least a small piece of the proceeds properly declined by Mr. Giuliani, Mrs. McKinney recently proposed (on a radio show appropriately titled "Flashpoints") that the Bush administration failed to pass on any possible pre-September 11 warnings because, "Persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war."

That sort of ridiculous rumor-mongering might be just right for a Riyadh-based Art Bell, but is hardly appropriate for a representative of Congress. Not that she seems terribly intent on those duties, either the most recent "news brief" on her web site is from last Dec. 5.

Mrs. McKinney should take a cue from Justice White: Principled performance rarely requires saying a word.

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