The present Florida Bar president, Eugene K. Pettis, has now made it clear that he is not talking or writing to me when he addresses the issues of importance to this organization. My sense of justice, and certainly of the judges sworn to uphold the law in Florida, appears to differ markedly from his vision in "The Inter-connectivity of Justice" (Dec. 2013).
How so? President Pettis suggests that since Florida Bar members were elementary students, it has been ingrained in us to pledge allegiance to "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." In fact, I was completing my junior year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, when the U.S. Congress amended the pledge to add the phrase "under God" in 1954. For the first generation or so, of my life, it was ingrained in me that we were a secular nation, where the law would apply to all, even those of us who believe that theology should be separate from matters of the state.
President Pettis then goes on to imagine a poll and its certain results: "[A]n overwhelming majority ... irrespective of party affiliation, economic class, or religion," would support "fair and impartial courts that are accessible to all." Significantly, he avoids the issue of race, and the meaning of "all."
President Pettis apparently believes those glittering generalities about fair, impartial, and accessible mean the same things to each of us. They do not. President Pettis then claims "our founding fathers, during the founding of this great country (recognized) that an effective and respected court system was essential to sustain a true democracy." At the foreign law school where I received my legal education, that is, New York University School of Law, I never got that message. In fact, I learned that nothing in the U.S. Constitution gave any court or legal system the right to review legislation that is the work of the legislative and executive branches of government. Such a concept did not begin to take hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Marbury v...