Friday, June 4, 2010

Do we?

Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter gave the commencement speech at Harvard this year. In it, he talked about interpreting the Constitution and how it is necessary to treat it as a "living" document. While I strongly disagree with his interpretation, I found this quote from his speech to be especially troublesome.

"A choice may have to be made, not because language is vague, but because the Constitution embodies the desire of the American people, like most people, to have things both ways. We want order and security, and we want liberty. And we want not only liberty but equality as well. These paired desires of ours can clash, and when they do a court is forced to choose between them, between one constitutional good and another one. The court has to decide which of our approved desires has the better claim, right here, right now, and a court has to do more than read fairly when it makes this kind of choice."

I for one do not desire equality. I know that it is attainable only by bringing the excellent down to the average. For Mr. Souter to equate the desire for liberty to the desire for equality is to go against every thing this country once stood for. Liberty should always win over equality, there should be no debate, no struggle. I am confident that every Founding Father would agree. Patrick Henry cried out, "Give me liberty or give me death!". I remember no such quote concerning equality.

To hear a retired Supreme Court Justice announce his desire for equality, and then broadly apply this desire to all Americans, shows exactly what is wrong with the supreme court. But perhaps Mr. Souter is referring to the equality of opportunity. If this is so, then I would agree with him to some extent. Of course, if that was the case, then equality would not clash with liberty as he suggests. His voting record also leads one to believe that he is referring to the equality of results.

The Supreme Court should not be in the business of promoting the equality of results. Even if it could be achieved, it is undesirable, as equality will always equal mediocrity. For our country's sake, I hope future Justices realize this.

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