Friday, June 27, 2003
Apparently there is a �rule� against state employees� using taxpayer-paid, on-line computer-listing services for �personal gain.� To the extent that employees� use of this service to sell their cars might allow them to avoid paying want-ad charges to a proprietary publisher, that would clearly and literally constitute an �against-the-rules� �personal gain.� Some, however, argue, not only that such a �personal gain� would be de minimus, but that a greater �community good� would be effected if the rule could be �bent.�
Similarly, I note that Justice O�Connor, writing for the 5-4 majority in the Michigan Law School case (Grutter v. Bollinger) seemed to argue that the Michigan Law School�s admission policy�s apparently obvious literal violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - as it provides �equal protection� to individual �persons,� rather than �groups� - is de minimus, relative to the greater �community good� that educational diversity can bring. "And besides," O'Connor opined, "we hope to stop this reverse discrimination in, oh, maybe 25 years."
Reminds me of a recently espoused (pun intended) argument: �I did not have sexual relations with that woman. It�s only oral sex; and besides, I hope to stop doing it in the not too distant future.�
As a minority of one on this campus, I write only to suggest that when the Constitution needs clarification, let�s think about amending it, rather than creatively interpreting it. Article V spells out how to do it; and we�ve done it 27 times in the past. When laws need adjustment, let�s try enacting new ones, rather than breaking old ones. And when rules need tweaking, let�s try rewriting them, rather than bending old ones.
On the other hand, to paraphrase Robert Frost,
- - - - -
Before I wrote more rules I'd ask to know
What I was ruling in or ruling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a rule,
That wants it down. I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Writing more laws on stones grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
And he likes having thought of them so well.
He says again, "Good rules make good neighbors."