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Monday, November 07, 2005

Why I Love Earl Warren

Hey, my sidebar appears to be back in the right place! Wonder how long that'll last.

The calls for me to explain my love for Earl Warren have become "deafening". It's not just Fire Blanket any more. No - he has been joined by an anonymous friend from Wyoming. Both are keen - perhaps even desperate - to hear the reasons for my Earl Affection.

Never one to disappoint, I have decided that it's time for the long overdue explanation of why I regard Earl as a hero. Unlike some bloggers I could mention, I don't raise a fascinating topic and then leave my readers in suspense. No: here at Nuggets, we like to fulfill readers' requests. Even if they are hopelessly misguided (you will regret asking this, chaps - I know you will).

A little background first off. Warren was born in 1891, and served as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court between 1953 and 1969. Prior to his time on the court, he'd served as Governor as California - a fact that only serves to increase my depression when thinking about the idiot who currently holds the position.

Warren was - and remains - a highly divisive figure. Impeach Earl Warren signs were to be found across the country during his time on the court. The debate typically centres around the way in which he made the Supreme Court - in effect - the legislative branch of government as well as the judicial. Many felt his decisions to be far too liberal - and out of step with majority opinion in America. Should an unelected figure legislate in ways with which many Americans were uncomfortable? It's an important debate, but shouldn't disguise what seems to me to now be self-evident fact - many of the rulings considered to be liberal nonsense at the time are now revealed to be cornerstones of a democratic society.

OK, see, I'm going into an essay already, aren't I? And I haven't even started explaining the reasons for my love yet. So let's bullet point it from here on out, shall we?


Six Reasons McReadie Loves Earl Warren
1) He brought about racial desegregation: In the 1954 ruling in Brown v Board of Education, Topeka, Warren declared racial desegregation to be unconstitutional. At the time, racial segregation was a fact of life across much of the United States - note that Topeka is in Kansas; hardly the Deep South which most of us would associate with segregation. The legislative and executive branches of the US government had been unwilling or unable to broach the highly controversial subject, so Warren did. In this sense, it was clearly an advantage that he was not an elected official. Whether or not you believe he should have been legislating, you surely can't deny that the ruling was right. And before leaving the Court, he was sure to issue another ruling to the same effect, with the aim of giving a kick up the arse to those areas not desegregating speedily. Go Earl.

2) He enshrined a crazy little concept called The Rights of the Accused: Warren made clear that anyone accused of a crime should have the right to an attorney and that, if they could not afford an attorney, one should be provided by the state. He also made clear that the accused should be informed of their constitutional rights at the time of their arrest. Oh, and he established a right to silence. At the time, many felt Warren was making it too easy for the accused to escape punishment by making it too difficult for the police. Some people - like myself - reckon that Warren was just establishing basic human rights.

3) One Man, One Vote: In the 1950s, it became clear that many state legislatures had not reapportioned representation for many years. As a result, rural areas had disproportionate representation in these legislatures. So Earl comes in and says, yeah, you're gonna need to deal with that. One man, one vote. I believe Earl thought these rulings to be the most important he made while on the Court.

4) He believed in the separation of church and state: I'm not religious. That said, I believe that everyone should have the right to practice a religion. I also believe that the state should not promote one particular religion over another, or force citizens to participate in religious ceremonies. In my view, religion is a private choice, and the state should not be involved in it. Earl thought the same and, in a series of rulings, made clear that religious activity should not be prescribed in schools. This was a highly controversial decision at the time but, in McReadie's opinion, separation of state and church is a good thing. And, besides which, the Constitution makes clear that there should be a separation.

5) Seems like he was a good guy: Shortly after he became Chief Justice, Warren was walking in a hallway near his office when he noticed an awed worker. Warren wandered over to the guy, and greeted him with: "My name is Earl Warren - what's yours?" The name of the awed worker? Thurgood Marshall - later to become the first black Supreme Court justice.

6) He fooled Eisenhower: Having read thus far (honestly - I'll be surprised if anyone has), you could be forgiven for thinking that Warren was a Democrat. Nope - he was a Republican. He was nominated to the Court by Eisenhower, who expected Warren to be a moderate Republican. So you can imagine that Dwight was a little shocked when Earl turned out to be a bit of a liberal. Eisenhower later described his choice of Warren as "the biggest damn fool mistake I ever made".

I mean, c'mon! What's not to love?


  • At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Whew! I read all the way to the bottom of that and was getting more and more in vibe with your groove and then I got to point #6 and now I am an Earl Warren fan. Please, please, please can't we have another one of his like right now. Can't we have one to pull the wool over that dumbass Bush's eyes so we can have a moderate court?
    Do you know of anyone?
    Sadly still Anonymous in Wyoming as the f*%$ing login won't work for me just yet.


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