Human rights.

AuthorKaimowitz, Gabe
PositionLetters - Letter to the editor

The new Florida Bar President Frank Angones understandably wants to get off on the right foot with his constituency. Alas, to do so, he takes what certainly must be considered a Peter Pan view of the organization in his inaugural president's page about "The Defense of Human Rights." He proclaims "The Florida Bar and its members are at the forefront of human rights."

In Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000), the Bar and its members were viewed in a less favorable light. Justice John Paul Stevens in a dissent concluded after the fiasco of voting errors in Florida in the 2000 election that some Bar advocates showed "an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed.... Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."

So Florida and its lawyers may not shine so brightly at the U.S. Supreme Court, but as Mr. Angones acknowledges, human rights issues go beyond state and national boundaries. Yet nowhere in his article does he mention the International Declaration of Human Rights.

However, in focusing on human rights in the context of this nation, Mr. Angones makes clear that his vision is limited to rights set forth in the International Covenant of Political and Civil Rights. His version apparently excludes universal rights not recognized in the United States, including, e.g., the right to basic education or health care.

Those are set out in the International Covenant of Economic and Social Rights. They generally are aspirations for nations outside of the United States' sphere of influence. How such domestic lack of interest in those rights in Florida, in the U.S., affects our own nation may be seen in Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, Sicko. Uninsured and under insured U.S. citizens go abroad, to Cuba, and elsewhere plead for health care they are denied here.

Could they get the relief they need by relying on our courts? The new Bar president claims that at the heart of human rights, at least in America, is a "sense of fairness" operating in "an independent, fair, impartial, diverse, and inclusive judicial system." Such a system indeed may exist--perhaps not in Florida, but in Peter Pan's Never-never Land. There perhaps black Haitians do get the...

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