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    Letters to the Editors

    A judge must respect the Constitution


    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 12, 2003

    Your Jan. 5 editorial, Clouded justice, gives your readers a misleading account of my judicial philosophy and that of Judge Kenneth Bell, whom I recently appointed to the Florida Supreme Court.

    One of the most important responsibilities of the judiciary is to safeguard the individual rights that the people have enshrined in our Constitution. But that is precisely the point: a judge must enforce the Constitution that the people have actually adopted, not the Constitution that the judge wishes the people had adopted. It is only through faithful adherence to this principle that courts can respect both individual rights and the people's collective right to self-government.

    Problems arise when courts attempt to impose their personal values and policy preferences on the rest of us. This is the very definition of judicial arrogance. In all my judicial appointments, I have sought men and women with the humility and intellectual integrity to subordinate their own will to the rule of law.

    Judge Bell will interpret the Constitution as he finds it, not as he wishes it to be. We must demand no less -- and no more -- from all of our judges.
    -- Jeb Bush, governor, Tallahassee

    Unfounded name-calling

    Re: Clouded justice, editorial.

    As a lawyer and citizen, I simply had to respond to the ridiculous editorial about newly appointed Florida Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Bell. I don't know Judge Bell, nor do I have any personal stake in his appointment, but the two purported "clouds" on his record as expressed in the editorial need to be addressed.

    The first "cloud" is not even a cloud. It seems that those on the left can't accept the fact that there are two fundamental viewpoints on the role of the judiciary in America. One viewpoint believes that it is the judiciary's role, as the intellectual elite, to aggressively make "progressive" policy that will better the nation, and the other, believes the judiciary (as mostly unelected officials) plays a more limited role, interpreting laws yet staying out of political issues when appropriate.

    Apparently Judge Bell holds a basic view on the judiciary's role that one side of the political divide does not agree with, but it is totally inaccurate and somewhat ingenuous to imply that this viewpoint is somehow odd, inherently harmful and/or anticonstitutional.

    As to the second point, notwithstanding that Judge Bell didn't even write the support letter in question, since when did saying a person has a "non-Christian liberal world view" make someone anti-Semitic? Was his opponent's Jewish background in any way a factor in the race? That is, is there any reason to assume that the above comment had an inherent anti-Jewish slant in it or is it really more a description of someone's intellectual and political beliefs? Because in actuality, the Christian elements of the "religious right" as a general rule show much support for the Jewish religion, Jewish ethnicity, and Jewish geopolitical concerns.

    Without more evidence, it seems quite unlikely that there was an anti-Jewish motive to the letter in question. It is much more likely that the letter was speaking on ideology and politics, not religion or ethnicity, for there is a huge spectrum of people that could be described as having a "non-Christian liberal world view."

    In my opinion, the "anti-Semitic/bigoted" accusations in your editorial are cheap shots, venomous, and most of all, uncalled for. At the very least they should be apologized for. If you don't like someone's politics, fine, acknowledge that and argue politics, but unfounded name-calling should be reserved for the kindergarten classroom.
    -- John K. Shamsey, Esq., Sarasota

    Equality in grief

    Laura Secor's Jan. 5 novella, The widowers of Sept. 11, was apparently intended to present an argument that some of the relatives of persons who perished on Sept. 11, 2001 are thoughtlessly treated less well than are others. Her presentation, however, is fundamentally flawed because it isn't just a few of the grieving "survivors" of Sept. 11 who are treated unequally. It is the vast majority of others, who, before or since that infamous date, prematurely lost loved ones.

    No thinking person could disagree with the premise that, at a personal level, no one death of a spouse or child is potentially less traumatic than any other. Given that, how can one attempt to explain the continuing attention (and millions of dollars) that have been showered on relatives of those who died on Sept. 11, while no such similar financial aid, publicity, and sympathy have been offered to the wife of a soldier killed in action in some far-off land; to a mother whose son died as a result of a skiing accident in Colorado; or to the father whose daughter perished in an irresponsible automobile accident? Is the heartache or financial need greater in one instance than in another? Of course not!

    It's well past time to put this unjustified, morbid focus on the "survivors" of Sept. 11 to rest. They are no more, or less, deserving of attention, sympathy or aid than are countless thousands of others today grieving and suffering over the sudden loss of their loved ones.
    -- John G. Nash, Homosassa

    For the good of all

    Re: State Democrats elect Maddox to helm, Jan. 5.

    Kindly place Scott Maddox's name under the column headed: "Florida Democratic leaders who still don't get it."

    Moments after election as state party leader and hopeful savior, Maddox, addressing committee members and party leaders, said Democrats must sharpen the contrast between themselves and Republicans. Then he added a ridiculous and derogatory list of comparisons stating: We (Democrats) are for this; they (Republicans) are for that.

    I wish to point out to Maddox that "we" and "they" are the citizenry of this state who all want as good a life as possible for ourselves and everyone and rely heavily on our elected representatives to help toward this end. This can only be accomplished by all political parties working together, not "sharpening the contrast" between the two major parties, but by softening the differences.

    If he speaks for the majority of his party, you can definitely be assured that Maddox is the right man to lead the Democrats. That is, if you are a Republican.
    -- Roy Lentjes, Dunedin

    Friendly is better

    I actually had to read Robyn Blumner's Jan. 5 column, Retailers, it's really none of your business so back off, twice. Perhaps I had missed something like a wink, or a poke -- something to suggest the column was facetious. It was not.

    Blumner worries she will sound like a prude or priggish. Those would be endearing qualities; instead, she comes off hateful and Grinch-like.

    The writer wants only "efficiency" and "anonymity" in the buying transaction. Some of the large supermarket chains have just what she's looking for: the automated checkout. No smile, no conversation, no human contact.

    As for the "only retail bright spot this holiday season," online shopping, what happens when a gift has to be exchanged or there are problems with delivery?

    I'll take the old style shopping, dealing with real people trying to make a few dollars, even enduring weak attempts at humor or inappropriate friendliness. The retail clerks she vilifies are just trying to be friendly.
    -- Dottie Bellavance, Palm Harbor

    A false friendliness

    Re: Retailers, it's really none of your business so back off.

    God bless Robyn Blumner! I have finally found someone who is as fed up with "Have a nice day" as I am. I have been gritting my teeth every time I hear it for more than 30 years now. It used to mean to have a nice day. Now it means nothing. A few years ago I tried to figure out a way to take counteraction, but all I could come up with was, "It's too late" or "Sorry, I have made other plans." The reactions were mixed, ranging from annoyance to a true appreciation of my witty remarks with a grin and sometimes an honest-to-God chuckle.

    When I noticed that the acronym for that cursed expression is H.A.N.D, I thought about trying to form some sort of club whose logo might be UN-H.A.N.D.-ME printed on cheap cards to give out with my witty rejoinders on the other side. I also thought that a simple line drawing of the outline of a human hand could be the background for the logo, and I wished I could get some annoying controversial celebrity like Howard Stern or Jerry Springer involved.

    As you can see, I have given a lot of thought to this, and you can tell that I have too much time on my hands. Keep up the good fight.
    -- Bob Brindley, Seminole

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