Thursday, March 04, 2004

Harry Blackmun recalled

I remember when Justice Blackmun was appointed by Nixon to the Supreme Court. At the time, it didn't feel like a victory for liberals. He was a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, as Chief Justice Burger (an avowed conservative) had been, and they were originally thought of as twins.

This NYT essay about Blackmun, based on a review of his recently-released papers, is to me a fascinating glimpse of the man and well as of the times in which the Court ruled on many controversial cases, from Roe v. Wade to death-penalty cases. I got a lump in my throat as I read about Blackmun's evolution on these issues, especially about his determination, at the end of his career, to voice his personal opposition to the death penalty and to place it in a dissenting opinion. And then to get a letter of thanks from the appellant--who was later executed.

There are fine men and women in government after all.

No comments: