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July 12, 1979 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-07-12

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Page 4-Thursday, July 12, 1979-The Michigan Daily
iMichigan Daily
Eighty-nine Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mi. 48109
Vol. LXXXIX, No. 42-S News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
U.S. needs strong
Carter leadership
A FTER THE independent truckers' strike, after
many states implemented gas gationing plans,
after OPEC announced another oil price increase,
and after a Fourth of July weekend that found
many Americans at home because the price they
would have paid for gasoline wasn't worth the
vacation, President Carter cancelled an apparen-
tly misguided energy speech and retreated to
Camp David to fish, think, and consult leaders in
many fields. While Mr. Carter now may be trying
to regroup his administration, he has once again
shown his lack of initiative and leadership.
As Americans struggle with skyrocketing gas
prices, Mr. Carter is jetting advisors from
Washington to Camp David, letting his gover-
nment and the citizens flounder until he makes a
decision. This lack of direction and clear objec-
tives in the nation's energy policies and in the
Carter administration as a whole will not solve the
crises the nation faces. The country needs a plan
that will ease the pain of inflation and break the
grip with which oil-producing countries have
seized the United States. Citizens need a leader
who, instead of tottering between camps of ad-
visors, can listen to facts and opinions and quickly
find a path for the country among them. Mr. Car-
ter, waivering on a decision that will affect the
nation for the rest of the century, is short-
changing Americans of the strong president they
need and deserve.
The discussions at Camp David should give Mr.
Carter enough information to make the decision
that will determine which fork in the path this
nation will follow. But that decision must come
soon, before Americans lose all confidence in the
administration and the man at its helm.


'If it's such a great machine, you fly it!'
California Supreme Court
justices 'careless, uncritical'

To some Californians, the
extraordinary current inquiry in-
to the ethical behavior of the
state Supreme Court, normally
one of the most respected
tribunals in the nation, suggests
that the court has lost its
prestige, its judicial balance and
maybe its marbles.
Other citizens view the in-
vestigation of this top court by
the Commission on Judicial Per-
formance as a move led by law
and order advocates to thwart
judicial sensitivity to civil rights.

R- ---_ herself invited the inquiry by
---= the Commission "to restore
-- public confidence in the
judiciary, which has been
damaged by false accusations."
She acted in response to charges
- - - - last fall that several decisions
were delayed until after the elec-
r W- 5nEO sM D E tion in which she and two other
appointees of Gov. Jerry Brown
were up for confirmation.
But the pre-election attacks on
V ?y the court, and on the chief justice
in particular, were eruptions
from a deeper controvery that
has been building for years. It
was merely aggravated with
Bird's appointment and her need
for voter confirmation.
The significant story about the
court goes beyond the who-done-
it inquiry. It involves the age-old
argument about whether courts
Kill. . +should stand apart from public
opinion or temper rulings with
** DO Erespect to public will. That
argument is perennial.

seen the pattern of the state
Supreme Court rulings as having
made their job tougher. Civil
rights enthusiasts, meanwhile,
have cheered.
But for all the heat and per-
sistence of prosecution criticism,
a surprising aspect of the current
situation is the failure of liberal
lawyers to rise to the court's
Even the American Civil Liber-
ties Union, pleased though it has
been by many decisions, now ex-
pressed dismay.
pions suggests the importance of
some peripheral circumstances.
The court's predicament ,is not
exclusively the product of its
decisional direction. Other com-
plications intrude: personality
conflicts among the justices; dif-
ficulties stemming from an in-
fusion of three new and inex-
perienced members onto the
court all at once; growing par-
tisan tensions outside the court
which seek to use the court un-
favorably on Go.. Brown.
In the March 1977 issue of the
California Law Review (before
Bird became chief justice),
Philip Johnson of the University
of California at Berkeley's law
school analyzed flaws in the
court's procedures. He called the
.justices. careless, uncritical, and,

inadequately supplied with
"neutral and dispassionate"
data. Because they approach
each case from a fixed, and
secret, point of view, he said,
they fail to elicit full analysis of
the facts, even in oral argument.
This, he .felt, explains why they
find it necessary, with noticeable
frequency, to grant rehearings
and change opinions.
But looking beyond how they do
their job technically, Prof. John-
son now quarrels with the Bird
court "for a tendency to cast
aside the restraints of precedent.
"They seem to feel no
obligation to leave the law as it is,
or to leave change to the
legislature," he said. "This isn't
characteristic only of their ap-
proach to human rights cases. It
marks torts actions, property
cases, the whole range. They
seem to act as though they said,
'Well, that seems like a good
idea, why shouldn't it be the law?
Let's give it a try.' They like
trendy liberal ideas and seem to
consider the court as a conscien-
ce for society, duty bound to
correct its errors."
Mary Ellen Leary covers
state politics for Pacific News
,S'r vice.,,. . . . . .

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