What the Supreme Court does and doesn't do

To the editor: Erwin Chemerinsky's negative view of the Supreme Court is not justified. ("The Supreme Court's supremely flawed record," Op-Ed, Oct. 4)

Its recent decision to allow prayers at public meetings in fact eliminates the myth about the "wall" separating church and state. The Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a state religion such as the Church of England, which existed in England at the time the establishment clause was adopted.


Furthermore, it took a constitutional amendment to eliminate slavery. Abraham Lincoln, quite a good attorney, pushed the adoption of the 13th Amendment. To complain that the court enforced the institution of slavery before 1864 does not accurately reflect the role of the court.

In fact, before the 13th Amendment was ratified, in the Amistad case the court freed a shipload of free Africans who had been enslaved in violation of the law.

What Chemerinsky is complaining about is that the court is not liberal enough to his liking. He can make that case without demeaning the court.

Ilbert Phillips, Los Angeles

The writer is an attorney.


To the editor: How ironic that the first example of what Chemerinsky believes is a bad Supreme Court decision is the one that allows the police to "stop a car based solely on an anonymous trip that the vehicle was driving erratically."

His piece appeared on the same day as a front-page story in The Times reported that five teenagers were killed in a horrible traffic collision involving speeding and an unlicensed driver. Perhaps an anonymous tip to the police about erratic driving might have saved those lives.

Greg Meyer, Los Angeles

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