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Clarifying the terms

Erwin Chemerinsky, like many people, is unclear on the meaning of liberalism and conservatism (“The Supreme Court: Sharp turn to the right,” August). Liberalism traditionally insists on the primacy of the individual; in particular, it considers that a person should not be viewed as a mere token of a group, such as a racial or religious category. In that sense, the decision forbidding assignment of students to schools on the basis of race is a liberal decision.

Liberalism also favors democratic practices and procedures. Thus, returning the issue of abortion, which has no clear constitutional basis, to the political branches is a liberal decision, however one views abortion itself.

Paul Kujawsky
Studio City

No more pretenses

I want to thank the bar and its Journal for dropping the pretense that it represents the whole of its membership and is not an agenda driven political machine. Erwin Chemerinsky’s opinion piece, camouflaged as “analysis,” appearing above the fold either made naked the bar’s philosophical bias or was an undignified move by a star-struck editorial board.

The piece demonstrated that an eloquent political hack can become a paladin if he chooses friendly forums. How about this one, Erwin, “the liberals finally lost their Court.”

Adam Sidney Lee
Washington, D.C.

Knuckle down

While Professor Chemerinsky tells us “that to say that the decisions were conservative is neither to praise nor criticize the result,” it is obvious the professor is deeply wounded and suffering as a result of those decisions. After years of liberal justices distorting the Constitution and laws by legislating their personal views in Supreme Court decisions, it will take a number of years and decisions to straighten things out. So knuckle down, professor, and prepare to agonize.

Matt Diederich
Santa Clarita

Less liberty now

Professor Erwin Chemerinsky is certainly correct that the Supreme Court has taken a turn to the “right,” but I disagree with his sequitur that such means we have a conservative court. There is nothing conservative, the concept properly understood, about a court that flouts the clear intent of the Framers (a) that the courts in this Republic are designed to protect individuals from an overweening government [Federalist 78], and (b) that the default in this Republic is supposed to be in the direction of individual rights and away from government power.

These obviously right-leaning courts are police power state-ists, not conservatives, the extreme distinction between which being exemplified by the difference between a Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco on the state-ist side, and Edmund Burke and John Adams on the conservative side.

Our courts, state and federal, are trampling cherished, founding no-tions of liberty to serve police power extremism values, and it does not overstate the point to observe that the people of this Republic enjoy far less overall liberty now than the colo-nists did in 1776, and that is largely thanks to this “rightist” judiciary.

Michael J. Kennedy
Palm Springs

So what?

Regarding Erwin Chemerinsky’s article on the right shift of the Supreme Court, I have one question: So what?

This article was nothing more than a forum for a leftist liberal to rant against  the conservative justices of the court. I am saddened that a great publication such as the CBJ “got political” on the front page. Calling it “analysis” does not correct the fact that it was presented as news, not opinion.

Alan M. Goldberg

Way too partial

We get it. You don’t like the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court. You used the term “to the right” three times in headlines referring to the more moderate make up of the U.S. Supreme Court. Did you use “to the left” when it went the other way?

Lefty Professor Chemerinsky’s opinion on the matter is not definitive remembering he was the guy that tried to overturn our three strikes law and turn a raft of career criminal loose on beleaguered Californians.

Try to keep some sense of impartiality.

Larry Stirling
San Diego

A ‘no’ to Anaheim

Like many busy practictioners, I had not yet made my reservation for the bar’s annual convention, and upon reading the lineup, I was shocked to find that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been invited to be keynote speaker at the convention’s luncheon. Wow! Where is the outcry from California Women Lawyers? The man who used his wife and marriage to falsely represent his Hispanic and family values during the election, it turns out was lying and cheating on his wife and children. What a guy!!!

Yet, we lawyers are honoring him. I wonder if the same would be the case if it were a Republican mayor or governor? Not likely, huh?

Diana DiMaggio

Where’s the outrage?

In November 1979, after three years of intensive study, I entered a large meeting hall in San Francisco. Along with hundreds of other men and women, I took an oath and became a lawyer.

This oath was my promise to uphold and defend the Constitution. As I understood it at that time, the Constitution set forth three branches of government and enumerated a long list of rights that were guaranteed to all Americans. The checks and balances provided by the three branches of government are well known to all of us. The Bill of Rights is ingrained in all who have studied civics, American government and constitutional law.

The obligation to defend comes into play when what we have promised to defend is under attack. What are we doing, as attorneys bound by this oath, to address the decimation of our separation of powers and Bill of Rights? Are we forgetting this oath when it becomes clear that fraudulent information has polluted the decision-making process of Congress and resulted in the death of thousands of our children? And has resulted in the spending down of our national assets, putting us deeply into debt to other nations?

Where is our outrage when the executive branch unilaterally issues directives and executive orders that nullify the sharing of power by the Congress and judiciary? Where is our outrage when we become subject to unlawful search and seizure by proclamation? Or when we become subject to the loss of our liberty, property and right to counsel at the whim of an executive that appoints itself as the arbiter of which type of catastrophe can strip us of these freedoms?

The list is endless, and it is a systematic transfer of power to a unitary executive with dictatorial powers.

As lawyers, as a bar association, as Americans, what are we going to do to keep our promise?

Leslie P. Louis

Shameful bias

I was very dismayed when I glanced through my July Bar Journal to see that your publication thinks it is appropriate to print “Letters” which make disparaging remarks regarding only female lawyers. In Daniel Campbell’s letter, he credits “the glamour of TV law programs and silly female TV talk lawyers” with destroying the profession.

Apparently in Mr. Campbell’s skewed view of the world, male TV talk lawyers are not destroying the profession and may even be enhancing it. But those “silly female TV talk lawyers” are destroying it, and the California Bar Association is apparently willing to promote this idea.

You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Mr. Campbell is certainly entitled to his idiotic opinions and he is free to express them as he sees fit, but I have a very big problem with a bar association to which I belong (and for that matter, any bar association) being the conduit for disseminating an opinion that disparages members of our profession for no other reason than that they are female. You are no better than Mr. Campbell and I am ashamed to be a member of a bar association that would treat its female members with so little respect.

Melissa A. Huelsman

Invitation to sue

The proposed rule that would require California lawyers to tell their clients if they carry malpractice insurance is ill-advised, a misconception and a further effort to over-regulate a business already inundated with over-regulation.

The net effect of such a requirement is to invite lawsuits. Lawsuits by clients who, displeased with the law and/or their recovery and/or legal service they received because of unique facts of their case (something that cannot be changed) have nothing to lose. The client can always find another lawyer who will file a legal malpractice action for them.

A case in point is Parker v. Morton (1981) 117 Cal Cap 3d 751, 173 Cal. Rptr. 197. Also see the March 23, 2007, case of Smith v. Smith, citing as 2007 DJDAR.

Thanks to Jacoby & Meyers, I know of an attorney in San Diego who runs an ad in the local newspaper advertising “sue your lawyer” and listing only his phone number.

John W. Parker

Eliminate MCLE

It is very disappointing that none of the candidates for bar president seemed to be considering scrapping or modifying the mandatory continuing legal education program (MCLE). Most of MCLE is worthless to sole practitioners who are always voluntarily updating their skills in the limited areas of their practice.

It would be better if the State Bar allowed self study entirely instead of demanding participatory education.

At the very least, attorneys who have practiced for 20-25 years should be exempt from MCLE. Most attorneys know how to research the law for the cases they handle and do not need to be forced to learn subjects which will never appear in ordinary caseloads.


It could be worse

Arthur J. Levine’s MCLE article about workers’ compensation in the August issue was very interesting. I offer the following suggestion to business lawyers counseling their clients who are usually unhappy about workers’ compensation premiums: Take the opportunity to remnd them that their liability insurance premiums would be enormously higher if the workers’ compensation system did not exist and their employees could sue them in superior court.

Michael J. Wall
Santa Rosa

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