- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 9, 2003

A Supreme conundrum

Bruce Fein advocates the removal of Roy S. Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, for violating his “Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution” (“Revolt against the Constitution,” Commentary, Tuesday).

Interestingly, however, there is no constitutional oath or requirement to support Supreme Court decisions that make a mockery of the Constitution.

The idea that lower courts must abide by Supreme Court decisions is pure fiction and nowhere to be found in Marbury v. Madison or the Constitution. In fact, the Founders gave Congress the power to create lower courts. Besides granting congressional power to limit the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction, the Founders believed that by requiring lower court judges to pledge their support for the Constitution, the Supreme Court’s penchant for sophistry and extra constitutional decisions would be circumscribed by those lower court judges who took their oaths seriously.

In any event, I would certainly be interested to learn which Supreme Court justices Mr. Fein would remove from the bench (applying the Oath to the Constitution test) for discovering, inter alia, the constitutional right to kill unborn children, commit sodomy, and separate church and state. Are the Ten Commandments any worse?

DAVID MUGAN

McLean

Columnist Bruce Fein has it backward. It is not Roy S. Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who is in revolt against the Constitution, but it is the federal court system, which appears to be ignorant of the original intent of the Constitution.

Due to revisionist history, few today are aware of the actual intent of the Founders. For example, in “The Federalist Papers,” written to support the adoption of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton states in Federalist No. 78: “… the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power.” Yet, today it has emerged as the strongest.

In a speech on July 4, 1821, John Quincy Adams stated: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” Thomas Jefferson, never accused of being a spiritual giant, said: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?”

Judge Moore is responding to Jefferson’s warning, which is etched in stone at the Jefferson Memorial for all to see, even federal court justices.

Will the federal judges now demand that Jefferson’s words be removed?

BILL WHEATON

Falls Church

Revamping the State Department

The State Department’s Grant Green is confusing cosmetic changes with the required overhaul of the State Department (“Transforming the Department of State,” Forum, Sunday). He assumes that new buildings, improved security and updating of the equipment in our embassies and at the State Department is equivalent to the required sea changes in that branch of our government.

Newt Gingrich, in a wide-ranging criticism of the current State Department, is not asking for an increase in staffing or buildings; he is looking for new attitudes at the State Department, namely that the hierarchy of that branch realize that foreign policy is not made by the State Department but by the president. The function of the State Department is to see that the dictates of the president are both enforced and observed.

Unfortunately, for too many decades, the State Department has confused its mission and responsibilities. In the clear-minded review by Newt Gingrich, he has pointed out this problem to the American people. Perhaps the hierarchy of the State Department should listen carefully to what he is saying — namely, that there should be a thorough cleaning of this branch and not merely a cosmetic change.

NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring

A D.C. home run needed

I really appreciated Eric Fisher’s comprehensive article bringing readers up to date on all the machinations regarding the return of baseball to Washington (“Area baseball fans see best shot at a team,” Page 1, Monday). As he reported, many of the real “players” have taken a stiff stance. I agree with that position and believe that for baseball in Washington, it’s ‘04 or “Oh-no.”

Now is the time for decisive, intelligent action on the part of Major League Baseball’s representatives. For too long, baseball commissioners such as Bud Selig have put a wall around Washington.

Mr. Selig: Tear down this wall. Washington and baseball go hand-in -glove — a baseball glove.

VANCE GARNETT

Washington

Game, set and match

Patrick Hruby’s “A Stroke of Art” (Sports, Monday), on Roger Federer’s Wimbledon victory, should be submitted for a Pulitzer Prize. His article made me reconsider my view of men’s tennis — an increasingly soulless game in which finesse takes a back seat to power and booming, lightning-quick serves — and brought back memories of the Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe matches I watched as a young man. It made me sorry I skipped this year’s Wimbledon men’s final. I’ll keep an eye out for future Federer matches — and for future Hruby columns.

CHRISTIAN HAMAKER

Fairfax

Piracy and terrorism

Piracy and terrorism pose grave threats to the maritime nations of Southeast Asia, as outlined by Adam Young and Mark J. Valencia (“Piracy, Terrorism Threats Overlap,” World, Monday. The authors call for joint international patrols to suppress these threats, “but some Southeast Asian countries are concerned that this provision could compromise [their] national sovereignty.” An acceptable option for these nations might be an international patrol coordinated, if not led, by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Because of the Coast Guard’s unique status and image, many countries routinely accept — or actively solicit — its maritime presence. Numerous governments have bilateral agreements allowing the Coast Guard to conduct law enforcement missions in their waters. Additionally, the Coast Guard’s status as an armed force, a law enforcement agency and a rescue service gives it a unique posture. That image of white-hulled cutters with their orange “racing stripes” demonstrates U.S. commitment and resolve, but it is often less provocative to regional and local sensitivities than large, haze-gray warships designed, equipped and trained to conduct major war at sea.

Additionally, there is a close affinity between the Coast Guard and many of the navies in Southeast Asia because of the similarity in equipment and missions — upholding sovereignty, enforcing laws, protecting resources, conducting search and rescue, and preventing environmental damage.

Indeed, there is a critically important, productive and valuable national security role for the Coast Guard in Southeast Asia.

BRUCE B. STUBBS

Fairfax Station


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