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June 02, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1993-06-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Wednesday, June 2,1993 - The Mhgan Daly Summer Weekly -5
'Stiffer pen 'snecessary to curb mast attitudes

This is an outrage! Just when I think
things are getting better an incident happens
which smashes a proverbial club over my
naive head. How can a person in a powerful
position at this time, 1993, use such blatantly
racist terms against a person who fills her

former Red All-Star Eric Davis a "million
dollar nigger." Too make matters worse, the
punishment for Schott's unacceptable be-
havior was a $25,000 fine and a one-year
suspension from baseball. How can a meager
fine greatly affect this obviously wealthy
woman. This punishment was a joke - a
baby tap on her elderly wrist. I mention this
now because that same franchise fired their
manager Tony Perez, a Hispanic, after only
44 games. In a 162 game season, one must
wonder why he got only 44 games to prove
How can racism end when people like
Schott are let off so lightly - it obviously
does not change their behavior. A more ap-
propriate punishment would have been a

$250,000 fine along with a ten-year suspen-
sion. She has to feel the effects of her actions
in order to understand the gravity of her
Also, Schott's punishment has to send
lightening bolts to the general public that
relay the message that this racist behavior is
not tolerable. Schott's punishment neither
made her understand that her actions were
wrong, nor send signals to the public that
these actions are intolerable.
I was recently discussing this incident
with a friend of mine and she made a very
interesting point. She said that these bigoted
people cheer for Black athletes at the sta-
dium, then go home and use racial slurs

Black people are being categorized as
only being able to dribble a basketball, hit a
baseball or throw a football. We need to stop
doing this because when we see a person
from a group which has been so categorized
(stereotyped)doing somethingthatisn't"nor-
mal" to their group we tend to look at them
with disbelief, as a misfit or an exception.
These stereotypes then manifest themselves
into Rodney King and Malice Green-like
And on that note let me tap dance my way
on out of here.
Hardy's column appears every other week on
the opinion page

purse with green dollars and silver coins?
The person I refer to is Marge Schott, the
owner of the Cincinnati Reds who called

Protect court's integrity

Open court to the public

For once I find myself agreeing with the
conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice Will-
iam Rehnquist The Library ofCongresshasdone
agrave disservice to the legacy of the late Justice
StatesbyreleasingMarshall's papers to the pub-
lic last week.
Two fundamental questions arise - why did
the Library of Congress betray the wishes of
Marshall and how much access should the public
have to records of the court? The first question is
easily answered. The library simply threw in its
hat with the reactionary chorus of voices that
decided the public had a "right" to Marshall's
papers. In 1988 Marshall told columnist and
confidante Carl Rowan, "I will not talk about
othermembersofthecourt. And I will not discuss
what goes on in the conference room. And I will
not reveal any memos or documents relating to
how the court reached certain decisions." Does
this sound like aman eager to have his papers go
public? In essence, what the library has done is
tainted the memory of the first African American
to serve on the nation's highest court by putting
himin the history booksas a"traitorof the court."
Butmorethanthememory of Justice Marshall
is at stake here. The decision of the library marks
the last step in the politicization and ruination of
the high court. A brief Supreme Court history
lesson shows that opening the court to public
scrutiny results in a court which abandons intel-
lectual interpretation for political ideology and
public appeasement.
Consider the Taney court, which made per-
haps themostdisastrous decision in the history of
the court. In the 1857 case of Dred Scott v.
Sanford thecourtthrewits legitimacy intoques-
tion by catering to the racism of the South and
declaring the MissouriCompromise unconstitu-
tional. The result: civil war. Of course, many
other factors led to the war, but the failure of the
courttointerpret the Constitution devoidofrracial
and political prejudice was a major factor.
As Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony
Kennedy and David Souter aptly noted last sum-
mer, the court has a tremendous responsibility to
guardagainst tyrannyofthemajority.Historyhas
proven that the power of the court lay "in its
legitimacy,aproductofsubstance and perception
..."Clearly,paperswhich revealindividualquirks

and mannerisms are not necessary for the public
tosee.They simply cloud thepublic's perception,
which in turn subtracts from the power of the
court to defend the rights of the individual.
And whataboutthe 1954 court proclamation
unequal? Public opinion stood fiercely against
desegregation. If the court hadbeen more open to
the public, it is quite possible that the justices
wouldn't have had the courage to take the stand
they did.
In most cases, I would be the first to say the
public has a right to know. From the Warren
Commission report to statistics about the Code, I
have always thought the public should be able to
check its political bodies to the fullest extent
But the Supreme Court is not, and cannot be,
a purely democratic body. The mystique and
insulation of the court is necessary to encourage
intellectual and free thought.Ironically, the same
bunch that has encouraged President Clinton to
appoint a true intellectual to the high court are
leading the charge to "open up" the court. The
two ideas are completely incompatible and it is
naive to think they are not.
It would be a shame if the death of Justice
Marshall, who fought so hard for the
underrepresented and the oppressed, brought
about the politicization of the court.
The cornerstone of a functional democracy is
a court which can insure equality without worry-
ing about the public wrath. Records of the court,
which reveal personality more than history, must
be kept insulated from the public domain.

The release of Supreme Court Justice
Thurgood Marshall's papers, which give detailed
descriptions of current court members, by the
Library of Congress has raised the issue of how
open the high court should be to the public.
Currentjustices, predictably, decry thereleaseof
information detailing the inner workings of the
court because they fear for their personal reputa-
tions. My fellow editor, predictably, decries re-
lease of detailed information about the court
because he wants to be chief justice, and doesn't
want his future notes released to the public. Both
the currentjustices and the unlikely futurejustice
have got it all wrong. The Supreme Court, a
buttress of social reform, a place that determines
theConstitutionalrightsthat citizenshaveshould
be more open to the public.
Before all of you traditionalists cry foul, hear
me out. Iknow that the Supreme Court is viewed
as this great bastion of intellectual debate, check-
ing and balancing the White House and Con-
gress, protecting our civilrights andsoon.Idonot
argue this. The court is an example to the world
ofhow asingle courtcanefficiently debateissues
of the utmost importance and fairly pass rulings
that will affect the entire nation. However, we
should know what goes on in there. People who
disagree with me will surely claim that if the
intricate details of the court are left open to public
scrutiny,justices willibe influencedby the popu-
lace. Imust disagree. Supreme Courtjustices are
granted lifetime terms, specifically for the reason
that they do not have to worry about pleasing the
current, and ever-changing, public opinion. Fur-

thermore, thejusticesareinsulatedfromthepaws
of special interests because they do not have to
raise money for endless elections and answer to
noconstituency.I simplydo not believe thatif the
court were subject to more public scrutiny it
wouldfailtopassfairverdictsin favorofpleasing
the public.
While certain documents that detail the pro-
ceedings of the courtare currently available to the
public, most people view the court as anuntouch-
able institution, protected from public scrutiny. I
argue that the Supreme Court should be treated
like the rest of our judicial system. We should
certainlyhave as much, if not more, access to the
highestcourt in the land as we do to other courts.
I am not advocating broadcasting Supreme
Court trials live on CNN, Iam only commenting
that the release of Justice Marshall's papers was
not an inherently bad thing. While Chief Justice
Rehnquistcontinues to lash out against Librarian
of Congress James Billington for releasing the
papers, the public isfinally granted alittle insight
into the court - and the papers revealed few
surprises. Billington was acting in the public's
best interests, because now we have some notion
of what proceeds in the court- the most presti-
gious of all public institutions. As for the argu-
ment that the released papers will discourage the
Justices from speaking their mind during secret
deliberations: hog-wash. Justices currently ridi-
cule each other, write biting dissenting opinions,
and accuse each other of various outrages; all on
public record!
After the Library of Congress released the
papers, somejusticesthreatenedtorestrictfuture
givings of personal papers. It is sad that the
justices interpret Dr. Billington's service as a
wrong-doing, and even more sad that they will
withhold future donations. One must wonder of
what they are so afraid. In no way does the
public's access to Justice Marshall's papers
threaten the viability orpowerof the court.Onthe
contrary,it gives us a clear view of what proceeds
in the highest, public, court in the land.
Whether certain documents will reveal the
personalities of justices is irrelevant, we have a
right to know the proceedings in our highest

Notable Quotable:
A new left must transform modem complexity into issues that can be
understood and felt close-up by every human being. It must give form to the
feelings of helplessness and indifference, so that people may see the political, social,
and economic sources of their private troubles and organize to change society. In
a time of supposed prosperity, moral complacency, and political manipulation, a new
left cannot rely on only aching stomachs to be the engine force of social reform. The
case for change, for alternatives that will uncomfortable personal efforts, must be
argued as never before ...As students for a democratic society, we are committed to
stimulating this kind of social movement, this kind of vision ...
- Students for a Democratic Society, Port Huron, 1962

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