Justice should be blind to politics, but justices are not

With regard to the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, your Jan. 9 editorial, "Judging Alito as he would judge," says, "...the senators need to judge him not on his political views but on his fidelity to the Constitution." It also states, "... the justices must drop any human tendencies and apply common-sense meaning of constitutional text and established court opinions."

That's the ideal, and I wish that it were the reality. The reality is, however, that on a number of very contentious social issues, the court has rendered very contentious and closely divided decisions. Many of the votes have been 5-4. Furthermore, several of the justices have consistently voted in either a "conservative" or "liberal" way, with Justice O'Connor providing the swing vote.

In this context, it is clear that we are far from the ideal of impartial justices. It is therefore naive in the extreme to think that a potential justice's political and social views are irrelevant. The senators have no choice but to take into consideration much more than Judge Alito's judicial temperament.
Dan Butler
Los Alamitos, Calif.

A few extras give dignity to the poor

In response to the Dec. 30 article, "Better living ... as measured by PCs, VCRs": To maintain some degree of sanity, poor people have to make an effort to keep their families "in the game" of life without feeling cast down and destroyed.

While poor families cannot afford the trappings of real wealth - i.e. homeownership or a luxury car - these families want to believe that they are not living a life of shame. Thus the occasional purchase of a small luxury item. It certainly is not wrong to enjoy some luxuries of life.
Lurlene irvin
Jackson, Miss.

Senior women are assets on the job

How timely to get the Jan. 4 article, "More women decide to extend careers." I am two months shy of 63 and have just been told that my company will be shutting down. Once again, I will be on the job market. Frankly, I am concerned that my qualifications will be overlooked because of my age. Oh yes, I know that age discrimination is against the law, but I think it happens more often than not.

But we women of my generation have gotten back in the workforce after raising our children and have worked very hard building our careers. We have so much to offer a company - stability, experience, enthusiasm, and loyalty.
Alison Funke
Kernersville, N.C.

To focus, kids need calm

Kudos to Nancy Humphrey Case for her Jan. 4 Opinion piece, "Good test scores begin with room to think." As an educator in the trenches, I know what pressure there is to raise test scores - to be accountable for students' progress or lack thereof. The emphasis seems to be, "Why aren't the teachers teaching these kids?"

Ms. Case's piece raised the big questions that need to be asked loudly, clearly, and often. We live in a frenetic society. We focus on how fast we can do things and how many we can do at one time. Her suggestions of "...calming the pace ... reducing the level of auditory and emotional noise ... [and] curbing ... kids' appetites for incessant amusement...." are what every legislator, every parent, every school board member, and school administrator needs to hear.

Thanks for hitting the issue squarely on the head!
Judith Lindsey
Candia, N.H.

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