Open Letter to Chief Justice Roberts
Dear Chief Justice:
My doctorate isn't in jurisprudence. In fact, I haven't taken a single course in the 250+ hours of post-high education dealing with the law. Therefore, I know that I'm approaching the bench, your honor, without any legal background. However, I do come before you with years of history, philosophy, theology, and psychology schooling and with years of experience under my belt.
So why am I here today? Politically, I am left of center...way left of center. I have contributed to President Obama's election, written several dozen articles about him, and support him totally. Here is a list of articles I have written about Obama.
In the past 5-years of Obama's presidency, I have come to the conclusion that we are at a time in America of a sea change similar to that which America experienced with FDR. Quite frankly, you have assisted this sea change by your vote when President Obama's healthcare reform came before your Court. I wrote to you another open letter about that. But, again, thank you.
I am writing to you not about the sea change that I feel is emerging from the White House but from the Supreme Court. Neither you nor the president know me. However, as a humanities professor, I watch, read, and think about what is happening in Washington. I am certain regarding Obama's sea change and am very optimistic regarding the court's sea change under your leadership.
Your decision regarding healthcare reform is one of the major areas. Your decision took guts quite frankly. I admire your decision and know that you must have taken a lot of guff from the radical-right. The next issue before you is the issue of gay marriage. I'm not sure which issue, healthcare reform or gay marriage, will produce more negative talk regarding you. However, you are more that capable of dealing with criticism.
Again, my legal background is extremely limited. However, that may be a benefit for both of us in this open letter. There have been three issues that have come before the Supreme Court over the years, which are related to each other. They are racism, sexism, and sexual orientation. It is interesting that the sequencing of them is parallel to where they are in our society. Historically, after the Civil War, we dealt with slavery. It took the South especially longer to start to address that issue. Nevertheless, we are as a country addressing the issue of discrimination with the post-Civil War Amendments: the 13th, 14th, and 15th.
What is strange is that the issue of equality of women had to wait until 1920 and the 19th Amendment. That was 55-years after the Civil War when blacks got equality. We killed nearly 700,000 during the Civil War over equality of the races and waited until 1920 to begin giving women the right to vote.
In both the areas of racism and sexism, it took nearly a century after the Civil War to really get into gear with equality in both cases. The Warren Court began addressing segregation in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, which was almost an entire century after the Civil War and the ending of slavery. In addition to the War Between the States, it took the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren in 1953 as Chief Justice. Little did Eisenhower know that within a half year that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of Brown. Warren was able to deal with the two justices, Reed and Jackson, to make the decision unanimous. The Court continued to push for equality of the races in its ruling in Loving v. Virginia case in 1967. It is interesting how similar the Prop 8 issue is to that Court's ruling.
The issue of equality of women has followed suite. Since blacks got equality, the Supreme Court’s decisions along with federal laws have pushed women closer to full equality. We haven't reached that point on either racism or sexism, but we are moving in the correct direction.
Now, others with often the same amount of legal training as I are on TV and radio telling America how the Supreme Court will go on Prop 8 and DOMA. The gist of what I hear is that Prop 8 will be dealt with as strictly a California issue and avoid going any further. As for DOMA, it will be struck down without any moving ahead. These 9-Justices will decide both cases, Prop 8 and DOMA, by sometime in late June. Again, the consensus is that it will be as limited in scope in both cases.
Your honor, before going any further, I want you to know that I'm 70-years old. Wouldn't you think that I would sit back and enjoy what remains of my life? I have a family, kids, and three grandchildren. Ann, my wife, and I drive every week from Crown Point where we live to Indianapolis to babysit for Jack and Owen...Jack is a toddler and Owen is learning to crawl.
Interestingly, it is those two and along with my granddaughter, who is graduating from high school, which have motivated me. I don't want to leave the world for them and the rest of the younger generation in the mess that it was when I came into it on January 20, 1943. We have come a long ways from those years in a couple major areas like racism and sexism. However, this past week you began addressing the hot button issue of sexual orientation, gay marriage, etc.
I also don't want to have them remember me as some old goat who just went along with the crowd but wasn't much of a leader. One of my student evaluations in a history class at DeVry said that I was the most eccentric professor that this student ever had...and the best that the student ever had. I took that as a compliment. I am a dozen years your elder, but I can't believe that you haven't thought about how America will view you as the 17th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court but also how your family will view you. This is a golden opportunity to carpe diem. You did so with the healthcare issue. Also, the historical parallels about how you and Warren became the Chief Justice is more that interesting with the deaths of Vinson and Rehnquist. As Suetonius said to Caesar, "Alea iacta est."
Your honor, I look forward to June and your version of the Rubicon. I am optimistic. In the meantime, you have loads of work to do. However, my dinner invitation from my first open letter still stands.
Thank you for your time,
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