- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 10, 2003

John Leo’s constitutional ‘sophistry’

In his column “Supreme sophistry” (Commentary, Wednesday), John Leo falsely states that “the Constitution and the 1964 Civil Rights Act say quite clearly that no one can be penalized or advantaged on the basis of race.” The word “race” is mentioned once in the Constitution, in the 15th Amendment, Section 1, which states that the right to vote cannot be abridged by “race, color or condition of previous servitude.”

Nowhere in the Constitution does it “clearly say” or even ambiguously describe this claimed right of individuals not to be penalized or advantaged on the basis of their race. This does not mean that individuals do not have this right, but that it is untrue that such a right is clear in the text of the document.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act states that “all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

Colleges and universities, the institutions involved in the current affirmative action question, are not classified as “places of public accommodation.” Section 703 goes on to state that “it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” It is a stretch, at best, to say that a college or university falls under the “employer” category noted in this section. In addition, the historical context of the 1964 Civil Rights Act shows that the act was not intended to prevent penalties and advantages based on race; it was intended specifically to end oppressive discrimination.

Mr. Leo continues to abuse the words of the Constitution, making the claim that the right to sexual liberty has been fabricated by the Supreme Court because the specific right to “sexual liberty” does not appear in the text of the Constitution.

Perhaps Mr. Leo, instead of sending a copy of the Constitution to the Supreme Court justices as he suggests, should pick up a copy for himself. The Ninth Amendment states that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The framers of the Constitution could not possibly have enumerated every right to be granted to the people. The Constitution does explicitly grant the individual the right to “liberty,” however, and the right to choose one’s sexual partner, I believe, would clearly fall under this blanket term.

I challenge Mr. Leo to show readers the exact text of the Constitution and Civil Rights Act of 1964 that “quite clearly” state that “no one can be penalized or advantaged on the basis of race” and, by using the exact text of these documents, to show readers how these passages relate to the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action.

I also ask that Mr. Leo define his definition of the right to individual liberty granted by the Constitution and how the right to choose one’s sexual partner does not fall under this term. Mr. Leo makes many claims in his column, none of which he sufficiently substantiates. I write this letter in hopes that Mr. Leo will respond to my questions in order to create a more honest discussion between writer and reader.

If he declines, I encourage readers to pick up the Constitution and Civil Rights Act of 1964 and determine fact from fiction for themselves.

ELE FORBES

Oreland, Pa.

Show Ramsey the stats, not the money

The D.C. Council voted 7-6 Tuesday to give Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey a raise, from $150,000 to $175,000 (“Council approves Ramsey’s pay raise,” Page 1, Wednesday). Does he rate this?

In 2002, D.C. homicides jumped to 262 from 2001’s 232, a 13 percent increase. This made Washington the murder capital of the United States, replacing Detroit, which led the nation in 2001. To assess this, compare the District to New York City, using resources and results, on a per capita basis. Note that New York’s 8 million population is 14 times the District’s 575,000. Thus, we must multiply Washington’s figures by 14 to get New York’s per capita equivalent. So:

Resources: The New York Police Department has 39,110 officers; the District has 3,600 police officers. Multiplying the District’s 3,600 police force by 14 to get the New York equivalent yields 50,400, nearly 30 percent more per capita resources than New York. (This does not, however, allow for the tasks performed by Capitol and park police forces and other specialized units, which free D.C. officers for other work.)

Results: New York had 584 murders in 2002 (down 11 percent from 2001’s 649); multiply the District’s 262 murders by 14, and the result is 3,668, or 6.3 times New York’s per capita homicide rate.

Oh yes, Chief Ramsey’s $175,000 salary puts him 8 percent above New York Police Chief Raymond Kelly’s $162,000 per year.

To be fair, some 2002 D.C. statistics were a tad better than in 2001: Violent crimes were down 2 percent from 2001; ditto property crimes. That brings to mind former Mayor Marion Barry’s famous quip that D.C. crime statistics “are not so bad if you don’t count the murders.”

Enjoy life in the nation’s capital.

JOHN C. WOHLSTETTER

Senior fellow

Discovery Institute

Seattle

When the Supreme Court justices give an opinion, it is just that, their opinion. When Thomas Jefferson didn’t agree with an opinion, he ignored it, and the same with Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln.

It is commonly held, even among lawyers, that “all law emanates from the Supreme Court” (as schoolchildren on tour are told). This is a gross error and a direct result of the long-term poverty of education in this country. Before the court’s arrogant and misguided decisions on race preference and sodomy, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt said that he would override the Supreme Court if he didn’t agree with its pronouncements. Many conservatives were outraged but this is not outrageous. Certainly, Congress or the president can and are obliged to do this in favor of the government by the people they are sworn to protect.

Supreme Court justices have given themselves power to make law when the Founding Fathers explicitly did not share law-making power with them. The three branches of government have the right and obligation to check and balance the excesses of each other. To say that one or two unelected swing judges of questionable understanding have absolute power over our behavior and the future direction of our country is to bring us face to face again with “the divine right of kings” — or queens. How absurd is that?

Very serious error has crept into our law in the past 70 years and its origins are not within the perspective of most people. A concept called judicial review of acts of Congress (Marbury vs. Madison) has been abused in courts, supreme and otherwise, for many years and is the source of this judicial activism. The constitutional corruption that has resulted has the potential for holocaust proportions.

It needs to be understood, now, that Supreme Court decisions are neither all-powerful nor irrevocable. A constitutional convention would clear this up and reassert our founding principles.

ELIZABETH NOTTRODT

Baltimore

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