Thursday, April 20, 2006

"The Supreme Court has a habit of overturning his opinions"

"[Stephen] Reinhardt is one of the most overturned judges in history. In this term alone, the high court has reversed seven opinions that Reinhardt has either written or been party to. These haven't been narrow reversals, either -- all seven of them have been unanimous. Moreover, four other opinions in which Reinhardt had a hand -- including his notorious conclusion that there is a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide -- are now pending before the court. In his many years on the bench, Reinhardt has proven himself one of those judges who view the Constitution as an infinitely malleable document in which myriad 'rights' can be divined." Article (from 1997)
I heard Judge Reinhardt speak at NYU Law, where his daughter was also a student. Like most 22 year olds, I was unaware of him before his speech, but subsequently discovered that he was a hero to many of my liberal friends and classmates. He's in the news again for his opinion barring a California high school student from wearing an anti-gay t-shirt to school in protest of the school's "Gay-Straight Alliance" tolerance event. While I'm hardly a fan of Christians who gay-bash, it's equally frustrating to watch activist judges hypocritically apply free-speech protections. In this case, the judge embraced the tolerance program, yet stifled the Constitutionally protected right of the student to oppose the program's message by wearing a tacky t-shirt. The First Amendment is a double edged sword that empowers both those who support Reinhardt's views on salient social issues like gay rights, and those who oppose them. It's time he, and other judges like him -- who are appointed to interpret laws, not write their own -- stop selectively applying those protections to advance a personal agenda.


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