Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens; upset pot farmers of Humboldt County; the late Malcolm McLaren

Judging Stevens

Re “A legacy not easily defined,” April 10

The Times paints a moving portrait of Justice John Paul Stevens, whose retirement indeed marks the end of an era. But The Times mischaracterizes that era. The three decades before Stevens’ ascent to the high court were marked by unprecedented liberal activism. The “status quo” he allegedly defended was in fact a radical departure from historic norms, as illustrated by Roe vs. Wade -- which overturned the status quo ante just two years before Stevens’ arrival.

In Orwellian style, The Times implies that the rise of the “right to life movement” turned court confirmation hearings into “televised confrontations.” In fact, it was partisan Democrats who grew increasingly vicious in defending the new status quo. Hearings became modern-day inquisitions, focusing almost exclusively on nominees’ willingness to affirm the pro-choice catechism.

Bill Ireland

Stevens is not on the left or in the center: He’s a principled man who puts the rights of his fellow men above all else.

This is in stark contrast to right-wing ideologues on the Supreme Court who think nothing of selling our republic to the highest bidder.

Nato Flores
Los Angeles

Re “Battle looms as Stevens exits court,” April 10

It’s refreshing to learn that with the departure of Stevens, Republicans are going to “reserve comment” before they launch a full-blown attack on President Obama’s choice to replace him.

The words “activist,” “radical,” “socialist” and probably “communist” will fill the air as the “party of no” undoubtedly will hail anyone the president nominates as the next coming of Satan, Lord of the Dark.

We now have on the Supreme Court five of the most hardened right-leaning activist justices to ever hold these lifetime appointments.

It is said that elections have consequences, and as the middle class is now being phased out by obscene rulings at the hands of this court, I’m grateful that we have a Democratic president who might actually try to even the playing field.

Let the games begin.

Jack Kenna

When Stevens retires, the Supreme Court will lose a great justice and its only member with military experience -- a double shame.

The person selected for Stevens’ position should have served his or her country.

Furthermore, there is no reason why the next justice must be a judge.

Past justices have come from various walks of life, and it made for a stronger court. Too many judges can be insular and elitist, out of touch in ways that don’t make for the best decisions.

What is needed is a great mind that understands history and is able to cut through the haze of specific arguments to grasp the core of what was intended by the framers.

So I put forward my prospect: Colin L. Powell. He’s wise and experienced. He has great stature and a keen, fair mind. No one knows how he would inhabit the office -- but as a progressive, I would nevertheless be willing to trust his judgment.

And I cannot think the Republicans would dare to offer much resistance.

Jessica Davis-Stein
Sherman Oaks

Too liberal for the job

Re “There they go again,” Editorial, April 6

The Times’ editorial supporting Obama’s nomination of 39-year-old Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit gets it wrong. Liu is not just another liberal Democratic nominee. He has by far the most left-wing record of any of Obama’s judicial picks.

You say merely that Liu “supports affirmative action.” He supports pervasive racial quotas -- in education, employment and contracting -- for generations to come. He favors massive busing of students across district lines to achieve racial quotas.

You say merely that Liu “has theorized about whether welfare benefits can be considered a constitutional right.” Liu has urged that judges invent constitutional rights to a broad range of social “welfare” goods, including education, shelter, subsistence and healthcare.

It’s the rare nominee who would threaten to make the 9th Circuit worse than it already is, but Liu is that nominee.

M. Edward Whelan III
The writer is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative public policy organization.

Keeping tabs on bad doctors

Re “Disciplining of doctors faulted,” April 8

Although there may be concerns regarding the methodology used by Public Citizen to prepare its report on state medical boards, there is absolute agreement with the overall conclusion: California needs to do a better job disciplining physicians.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is not satisfied with the existing enforcement system. We are taking aggressive action to eliminate the enforcement problems that have plagued the Medical Board of California and other healthcare-related boards.

This critical public safety action plan, the Consumer Protection Enforcement Initiative, takes direct aim at the broken system by making immediate administrative improvements, expanding staffing and technology resources for the boards and pursuing critical legislation to keep Californians safe from harmful caregivers.

The system is broken, and the governor’s administration is committed to fixing it and ensuring that consumer safety is every healing arts board’s highest priority.

Brian Stiger
The writer is director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

Humboldt County blues

Re “Afraid of being uprooted,” April 8

So, some of the good folks in Humboldt County are afraid legalization of pot will adversely affect their shady marijuana-growing enterprises? That’s a hoot!

I suppose the Mexican cartels might have the same concern, in between gunfights.

Haven’t the folks in Humboldt advocated legalization for ages?

I suppose the growers will eventually want price supports or government protection from competition in the event of legalization.

Gosh, it’s hard to have it both ways. But anything’s possible in America.

John Bowen

Let the poor, unemployed pot farmers grow opium poppies.

Opium should stay illegal for many years and may help keep the unemployed pot farmers off of the welfare rolls.

Bob Nyboer

The man who made punk

Re “ Malcolm McLaren, 1946-2010,” Obituary, April 9

If John Lennon was a spiritual hero for our generation, Malcolm McLaren was an equally influential countercultural, musical and societal force.

The Sex Pistols, who became notorious -- and popular -- in part due to McLaren’s brilliantly orchestrated shenanigans as their manager, hastened the downfall of the soon-to-be-irrelevant corporate rock groups such as Foreigner, Journey and Styx.

McLaren had the uncanny ability to sense the just-under-the-surface pulse of society and brilliantly exploit what everyone was craving.

The rise of punk probably would have happened anyway, but because he recognized its potential before anyone else and turned the vision into reality, McLaren deserves all the credit in the world.

McLaren valued the imperfect over the perfect and the real over the manufactured. Knowing that the mischievous twinkle in his eye is forever extinguished makes the world a bit more ordinary.

David Gillerman