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January 20, 1980 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-20
Note:
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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Jc

Page 2-Sunday, Jcnuary 20,1980-The Michigan Daily
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Rock And No Water And The Sandy
Road
"There is more romance in anthro-
pology than there is in ordinary
life."
-Derek Walcott, "What the
Twilight Says: An Overview"
Scratchy calypso
And Crack-lipped, dry highlife
Call for dry Shango
With dance in the dead grass.
Dusty hounds sniff at
Black lizards shrivelled
And scattered on rocks that
Shango rules burning
In drums and dumb heat
And songs that sing charcoal:
Black hands that fuel the beat
Dry on the shadows,
Bursting in racefire
That kindles the white streams
And smothers the rain cries,
To call more for Shango
To scorch the new islands
Caught in the salt seas:
Jamaican or Cuban ,
Crying Mali and Songhay.
Burning god laughing
In dance in the sun disc;
Babylon chaffing.
The yams of Ibadan.
Shango, dance hate with
Olodumare's dry corpse,
And burn down the old myths
In racehate and brown salt.
Sour the breast's milk
With your call back to Babylon
Shouting for raceguilt
In your dry, dying whine.
-David Victor

The~ Suprem~e

Court

Books
Raking the muck on the Third Est
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.----

By Keith Richburg
THE BRETHREN: INSIDE THE
SUPREME COURT
By Bob Woodward and
Scott Armstrong
Simon and Schuster
$13.95, 467 pp.
UICKLY NOW, what is the name
of the chief justice of the U.S.
su eme court? For extra credit, what
U.S. president appointed him?
Now for the bonus question: Name
each of the other eight justices (first
and last names, please). For ten points,
which two justices are commonly
referred to as "The Minnesota Twins?"
If you answered "Warren" for the
first question, you are only half
right-or half wrong. After all, Mr.
Nixon must deliberately have been
trying to create confusion by replacing
chief justice Earl Warren with chief
justice Warren Burger. But if you have
trouble naming Mr. Burger's
colleagues on the bench, or if you never
heard 'Burger and Justice Harry
Blackmun referred to as "The Min-
nesota Twins" (they have known each
other since grade school), well, con-
sider youself still better informed than
most.
Quite contrary to anything I am sure
the founding fathers ever intended, the
Supreme Court has become the in-
visible branch of government. The
President daily commands the atten-
tion of the nation, and the men and
women.of Congress regularly run the
media gamut from the Evening News to
Face the Nation, winging off on junkets
here and there, conducting fact-finding
Keith Richburg is the Daily's edi-
torial director

missions, or running for office. But not
those nine staid old men of the high
court, who, out of tradition and a
general disdain for rough-and-tumble
politics, stay removed from the public
eye. Justices avoid reporters like the
plague, limiting their public appear-
ances to bar association gatherings or
commencement exercises, and
rarely-if ever-consenting to personal
interviews.
This exclusion from public scrutiny is
partly dictated by the rules of judicial
decorum, which prohibit public com-
ment on pending cases. But often the
hush-hush during cases becomes so
ingrained that secrecy for secrecy's
sake becomes the norm. The court's
contact with the public comes only
when the nine robed men emerge from
a back room to about 200 spectators and
reporters, to announce with a judicious
amount of pomp and circumstance the
latest edicts, decrees, and findings of
constitutional law. The decisions are
presented as fait accompli, presumably
after exhaustive research on matters of
law, and unless an occasional dissent is
particularly revealing, little is known
about the politicking and back-room
bargaining that goes into producing
some of the weightiest decisions in our
history-the Bakkes and the Gannetts.
The decisions, and the legal reasoning,
are published for broad public perusal
and open discussion by scholars and
journalists, but often more factors
than the law go into the making of a
majority.
Since the Supreme Court has become
so expert at maintaining a shroud of
secrecy around its own internal
workings, one footnote in Justice
Burger's dissent in the Pentagon
Papers case 'becomes particularly
ironic:

There may be an analogy with
respect to this court. No statute
gives this court express power to
establish and enforce the utmost
security measures for the secrecy of
our deliberations and records. Yet I
have little doubt as to the inherent
power of this court to protect the
confidentiality of its internal
operations by whatever judicial
means may be required.
Burger's obsession with maintaining
the secrecy of the court runs on a direct
collision course with the kind of in-
vestigative journalism that has come to
characterize, for better or for worse,
much of modern day reporting. That
kind of investigative journalism (in the
less-enlightened days known as
"muckraking") was perfected by
Messers. Woodward and Bernstein in
All The President's Men, and taken one
step further in their encore presen-
tation, The Final Days.
There is much to be said for this new
breed of journalist, this investigative
reporter who will stop at no length to
find that second source to back up the
irrelevant but fascinating details that
footnote history. That kind of reporting,
after all, uncovered the lies of
Watergate, the tragedies of Vietnam
and Cambodia, and the sins of the
C.I.A. But even the most dogged defen-
der of first amendment rights has
moral problems with journalists
groping for skeletons, often invading the
private lives of public citizens. Even
the staunchest supporters of a free
press, who heralded AU The President's
Men as a triumph for the first amen-
dment, had to look with some distaste
at The Final Days, and ask themselves,
really, what principles were served by
having everyone know that Richard

Nixon liked t
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drinking prol
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the latest eff
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what legal,
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Burger, wha
Justice Brei
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question that
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and journali
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But there
Brethren-a
minutiae of
and person
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quick to cri
this book d
court's veil
strate how 1
not apolitica
legal judgm
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and-tumble
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admit so or r
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SeeBI

5 'C

4

David Victor is working toward his'
masters degree in English. He has
won numerous poetry awards at
the University' and is founder and
editor' of',Risinig Star, a periodical;
ofpoetry.

A

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