Letters

Scalia's View of the Constitution

"High Court's Colorful Man in Black" (March 3) raised some troubling questions for me - not about Justice Antonin Scalia, but about his critics.

First, his critics complain that the Constitution seems frozen in time. My understandning is that the Constitution was designed to be difficult to amend precisely to prevent the kind of impatient, loose interpretation Big Government initiatives demand.

I tried out the critics' "Living Constitution" concept on my landlord. My lease no longer fit with my evolving lifestyle, so I bent a little left and right and adjusted my payments to reflect my priorities. My landlord threw me out. He must have been one of those nasty "originalists."

Second, critics suggest that the Constitution grants no affirmative rights to states. My understanding is that the people, through the states, devised the Constitution as a grant of limited powers to a national government, not the reverse. The authors of the Bill of Rights anticipated these critics by including the 10th amendment: If a power is not mentioned in this document as belonging to the national government, then, by golly, it belongs to the states or the people.

Justice Scalia and others on the Supreme Court who consider the Constitution more than a few bones to be tossed out and examined for new meaning are a breath of fresh air. If they were to constitute a majority on the court, I'm confident we could leave a legacy of liberty and user-friendly, limited government to our children rather than the tens of thousands of pages of federal regulations and a SWAT team for every agency to which they are presently heirs.

Paul J. Wescott

Yakutat, Alaska

Thank you for the fascinating article on Mr. Scalia. With Scalia's denial of rights to the minority (in the Smith decision on religious liberty), one wonders to what extent he actually limits the interpretation of the meaning of words. My government professor taught a definition of democracy I have never forgotten: Rule by the majority with respect for the rights of the minority. Without such respect, majority rule leans toward mob rule and social equality is for the many but not for all.

Norma A. Mutch

E. Harwich, Mass.

Students see all eyes on athletes

"US 12th-graders Miss the Mark" (Feb. 25) misses the mark! The article says that tests show fourth graders are high scorers compared with other industrialized nations, while eighth graders dropped below the norm, and 12th graders are a national disgrace.

The explanation is clear to me, after teaching elementary, junior high, high school, and now college, as well as raising several children. Fourth graders do well because learning is exciting and they are well taught. Soon after, American children learn that the real rewards in our society come not from excelling at academics but rather at sports. Most schools have athletic events every week, when parents and teachers come to cheer the athletes. Yet often there's just one academic honors assembly a year. American children aren't dumb, they know what they need to focus on to reap recognition.

Jenifer A.T. Taylor

Alfred, N.Y.

The Olympics coverage critics

The full page of letters to the editor "Fans Come Out Swinging on Monitor's Olympics Coverage" (Feb. 27), criticizing Douglas Looney's columns, amazed me.

Are Monitor readers so serious that they cannot enjoy the pertinent and interesting reports by Mr. Looney? I thoroughly enjoyed his lighthearted, well-written articles. They put the games in their proper perspective. If I could have expected such an onslaught of negative responses, I would have written sooner.

Mary M. Danielson

Shoreline, Wash.

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed to oped@csps.com

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