Jewish World Review August 26, 2003 / 28 Menachem-Av, 5763

Jay D. Homnick

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They don't sue prematurely (Tales Out Of Court) | Judge Roy Moore has taken a monumental stand in Alabama. The Supreme Court, asked to intercede on his behalf in the Ten Commandments issue, chose to table it. Perhaps it was too difficult for them to face the all-important Tenth, "You should not bear false witness". Let us have a look at their recent decisions, perhaps we will get a clue.....

My editor, seeking some poetic justice, sent me out this month to cover the court. I'm no Andre Agassi, but I can bribe a clerk ("Tenners, anyone?") with the best of them. Info a dime, info a dollar, whatever it takes. I came with total confidence; having once reported on the Hill (my copy was Anita spin), why should I be doubting Thomas? Yet I was unprepared for the total lack of jurist prudence, not to mention jurist diction.

The first Supreme Court story to unfold involved Diana Ross being charged with driving under the influence. She had taken license with liquor and hadn't walked the straight line of the Law. The suspense was over quickly for us but not for her driving privileges. At least she wouldn't be drinking reams of soup in prison. Her publicist explained that this was not a setback, but rather an affirmative action for sobriety.

Which brings us to the second Supreme Court decision. The notion of equality before the law stood in the box, then fell to the count of nine. Numerous Universities came to bear witlessness and make ridiculous admissions, while many businesses, always nervous about change, put up testy money. The Bush administration, jockeying for diversity in voting patterns, delivered an amicable brief. The justices SAT gloomily; you will rarely see as saturnine.

In the end, the Court went off the Bakke track and warded off Connerly. They opted to keep the Phi Beta Kappa chapter diverse over the letter of the law. Even the presence of two women did not mask the smell of frat boys. Instead of Justice standing tall and firm as a tree, there was little oak honor and no cedar truth. Solomon said "The race is not to the swift", while these modern solons say "You don't have to be too swift, as long as you are of the right race".

In fact, if the University of Michigan received two applications, one from G. W. Bush of Crawford, Texas, and one from S. Hussein of Baghdad, Iraq, preference would go to our blood-curdling and Kurd-bloodying Middle Eastern friend. W may flash the V for victory but the U goes to Saddam. Speaking of which, it seems sodomy can't even be legislated against - that is the third decision. (I prefer to avert my gaze from this matter, but apparently private activity and public restrooms are involved. I apologize for freezing up like a pillar of salt, but it goes against my constitution to pen umbrage.)

To be amused and bemused at once is unsettling. With laugh lines around the eyes and furrows in my brow, my face is filling with Judge craters. After hanging around the courthouse, I don't want to sit on the fence and cheat the news. So, I'm thinking of view: here are two deeply, passionately held opinions of my own.

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The first is that there is no such thing as race. Who created this fraudulent concept? There is only one race, the Human Race, all descended from Adam and Eve; actually, all children of Noah according to the Bible. Even if your thinking follows a secular arc and you believe that you are paring the specious, the science should be meaty or logical. Fifteen years ago, DNA proved that all humankind stems from one woman. Time Magazine devoted a special issue to this discovery on Jan. 26, 1987.

On what basis can we divide people into separate races? Particularly in the United States, a country of immigrants, where we have no common nationality and are defined only by the legal abstraction of citizenship? Sure, we have bonds of family and community, we all coo and cluck at our own clan, but there need be no institutional race schism. I believe profoundly that this land will never achieve equality "between the races". The conventional wisdom must be supplanted, perhaps in a new Constitutional convention, by the wisdom that the very "fact" of race be obliterated in the law.

How much into racial can you be, anyway, when Derek Jeter wins the MVP race and Halle Berry wins the Oscar race?

Similar reasoning ought to be applied to the subject of Gay parity. The privacy argument needs to be taken to its logical conclusion and the law must cede its inability to designate a public category based on a private activity. The Gay may have flaunted, but we should not have pried. Of course, all of this will call for a radical overhaul of our system, but we must not shrink from a formative action.

As for Diana Ross, a woman of substance careering downhill behind the wheel, perhaps it is not too late for rehabilitation (do they throw in detox with the botox?). The ball is in her court; to us she will always reign supreme.

..... so to Roy Moore, a modern sort of hanging judge (perhaps Paul Newman can play you as well as he did Judge Roy Bean), respecting people and hanging the Decalogue, we say: Don't worry about getting in the rough on the front nine. On the other side, you will score a double birdie on the Tenth.

JWR contributor Jay D. Homnick is the author of many books and essays on Jewish political and religious affairs. Comment by clicking here.


07/29/03: Equipped with a quip, he gave the Hope
07/11/03: Speaking of Euro mania
06/27/03: The Tempest (not "The Taming of the Shrew")
06/16/03: Iraq and roll
06/05/03: Is Castro convertible?
05/23/03: Taxonomy of senatorial types
04/23/03: The Nutrasweet War against the Axis of Evil: Did Rummy forget?

© 2003, Jay D. Homnick