Decoding a 'Right' Supreme Court
Two prominent federal judges presented different portraits of the U.S. Supreme Court's future to an audience of several-hundred Jewish lawyers at the Beverly Hills Hotel last week.
The June 15 forum, titled, "Where Will Another Right Turn Take Us?" featured Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Alex Kosinski, both of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals based in Pasadena. The moderator was former Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, now dean of the Pepperdine Law School.
Reinhardt is widely regarded as left leaning; Kosinski more conservative.
Reinhardt expressed deep concern over what he characterized as a dangerous rightward trend,
"The Constitution matters regardless of the majority views in this country," Reinhardt said.
Reinhardt also spoke critically of possible appointees to the Supreme Court by President Bush: "I think it can only go from bad to worse."
The younger Kosinski, speaking more extemporaneously, took a far less worried view of the court's future.
"Nothing changes until there is a political battle," Kosinski said.
He added that even an overturning of the court's landmark 1973 abortion rights ruling, Roe v. Wade, would not mean a broad end to abortion access, but would instead initiate state-by-state legislative battles to legalize or ban the procedure.
"All the court can do is allow the legislative process to happen," he said.
Citing recent Supreme Court rulings, Kosinski said the court for decades has been striving for a centrist path that Americans would broadly accept. This effort, he said, resulted in integrated schools and sexual privacy rights. "The Supreme Court [has] managed to come to grips with the popular will," Kosinski said.
Reinhardt expressed less trust in popular will, referencing the cultural experience of the audience: "Jews should not have that confidence after the history that we have undergone."
Reinhardt also spoke to the issue of judicial activism, saying that part of a judge's legal philosophy stems from life experience.
"The judgments about the Constitution are value judgments," he said. "Judges exercise their own independent value judgments. You reach the answer that essentially your values tell you to reach."
The event was sponsored by the legal services division of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and taped for broadcast by C-SPAN.
Holocaust Museum Post Goes to Bialosky
A Southern California businessman and Republican fundraiser has joined the governing council of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Bruce Bialosky, a Studio City CPA, said that one of the museum's primary missions is reaching out to non-Jews.
"The Holocaust museum represents not just the history of what happened to the Jewish people," Bialosky said. "It represents the history of what happened to humanity.
It is the obligation of all Americans to become aware of what happened."
"The single-most fulfilling thing I do when I am in Washington is sit outside the museum and watch [non-Jews] walk in," said Bialosky, who founded the L.A. chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
About 90 percent of museum visitors are non-Jewish.
Bialosky was a Bush-Cheney '04 "Pioneer," meaning that he raised more than $100,000 for the president's re-election campaign. He also served as the campaign's California Jewish outreach chair. Bialosky's wife, Teri, is also a Republican, but she is serving on Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa's transition team.
At the 12-year-old museum, Bialosky will be completing a five-year term that expires in 2009. He'll be joining 12 other new appointees who were named in mid-April.
The new governing council members include former New York Mayor Ed Koch and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld. They'll join a governing board with a total of 55 presidential appointees plus other government representatives.