Ivan W. Parkins

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About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

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Editors Note:

Dr. Parkins’s Grandson, Breton W. Hinkle, passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 14, 2009.  He leaves his wife Jen, parents Ray and Susan Hinkle, sister, Gretchen Hinkle, Richard and Kathy Bourque, Father and Mother in law, brother in laws Kevin and Brian and sister in law, Kelly.  He was a graduate of Michigan State University.  Bret was a United States Marine and had faithfully served his country with honor and distinction.   He will be terribly missed  by family and friends.  He was loved by all who knew him.  He was  buried with military honors in Holland, MI.   See Bret’s life story at http://www.lifestorynet.com/memories/45526/ 

    THE SUPREME COURT AND ITS CAPACITY TO JUDGE

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     Americans should be very skeptical of the Supreme Court’s judgments where they  

relate heavily to factual aspects of a case.  The reason for that is clear.  The Supreme

Court’s jurisdiction is overwhelmingly appellate, i.e. it reviews cases based upon records of fact and law established elsewhere.  Trials occur in lower courts or administrative  tribunals.  Usually, the result then goes to at least one appellate tribunal such as a U.S. court of appeals or a state supreme court.  What the U. S. Supreme Court finally gets is a written record, and sometimes an oral summary, of what has happened two stages below.  Its primary duty is to rule upon whether or not lower tribunals have interpreted and applied the law correctly.  Its acquaintance with the original facts is usually several years old, and little more than hear-say.

 

      When I first entered graduate study, very early in 1946, I witnessed an excellent example of the problem.  I joined with other students, and groups, in a raucous protest of a meeting held by an extreme right-wing, i.e. pro-German and anti-Jewish organization.  At the protest I joined in lots of loud chanting and a dense marching line around the meeting site.  I had arrived a bit late.  Police were guarding the building entry.  Some windows there had been broken before I arrived, but I saw no significant violence until late in the evening.  Then, a small group of “street” youths broke through a police barrier and joined our protest line around me.  For a few minutes, I answered their several questions as best I could.  None of that seemed to have meaning for them.  Instead, they wanted to know why we had not broken in where we could hear.  I pointed to several police guarding the entry.  They obviously planned to attack.  I withdrew to a spot from which I could watch.

 

      The attack came soon after, including blows with fists and clubs, arrests, police vans, etc.  The meeting soon broke up.  There was some heckling and threatening as those attending and the protesters dispersed, but no blows were struck that I could observe.

 

      The next morning I learned from the newspaper that the man, Terminiello, who spoke was not the one that I had gone to protest, but his aide.  Later I learned from the local head of the Jewish defense league that they, too, had been largely unaware of what transpired inside.

 

      In Terminiello v. Chicago, (1949) The Supreme Court of the United States overturned Chicago’s ordinance under which Terminiello had been arrested for inciting a riot.  The Court held that the ordinance was too broad, lacked specificity, and was therefore an unconstitutional restriction upon speech.  I have no quarrel with that opinion regarding the law.

 

      But, oh the facts!  The Court in its opinion showed no awareness that we on the outside did not know who spoke or what he said.  Apparently, the Court was unaware that the violence was mainly by persons unrelated to either of the major parties in the incident.  Its opinion implied that, with a slight change in the wording of the ordinance, the conviction of the speaker would have been upheld.

 

      The United States Supreme Court is a very poor institution for the examination of  factual, especially transient, matters; it is well designed to maintain the substance and consistency of our legal system.

Letter to the Editor,

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/15/1985:

Should U.S. Judges Court Voters?

 

    Should I assume that your suggestion (editorial, Oct. 30) that federal judges should be popularly elected was merely hypothetical?  Of course judges should not have it both ways.  They should not be both tenured and politically active.  But would popular election change that?

 

    The actual tenure of members of the House in recent decades rivals that of judges, in spite of members standing for election every two years.  They have achieved tenure by voting themselves huge staffs and funding for their individual communication uses.

 

    Furthermore, the House is little, if any, more responsive to public majorities than the courts are.  Note more than thirty years of Democratic dominance and an increasing gap between the totals of presidential and congressional votes.

 

    Perhaps the best defense of the liberal courts has been one made by Archibald Cox and others, i.e., that the courts acted to solve problems which Congress proved unable or unwilling to tackle.

 

    Neither that defense nor Hamilton’s label as “the least danger branch” should divert us from efforts to curb the power of the courts.  But recent liberalism of the courts has been in response to a wave of opinion which dominated the mass media, the law schools, and the bureaucracy.  And none of those institutions was politically important in Hamilton’s day.

 

    Let’s do reexamine power and its distribution in American government.  But election of judges and other constitutional changes should await a broad public consensus regarding their prudence and necessity.

Letter to the editor,

THE DETROIT NEWS, 7/8/03:

 

    Two recent columns, Thomas Sowell’s 7/6 and Charles Krauthammer’s 7/7, offer particularly enlightening comments on erosions of law and democracy in America.

 

    However, political and legal theories provide a more general explanation.  In Marxist theory legal continuity (tradition) and objectivity are rejected as products of capitalism.  The courts and laws are regarded as simply other instruments by which a ruling class imposes its will upon society.

 

(Text, in next two paragraphs, was deleted before publication)

 

    Thomas Sowell’s repetition of Justice Thomas’ reference to “the know-it-all elites” is especially significant.  America’s know-it-all elites are, or at least seek to be, a new ruling class.  Given the revolution in mass communications, professional communicators (academics and artists as well as journalists) are, arguably, the most powerful minority in the United States.  And, their “liberalism” is mostly an egocentric illusion.

 

    Erich Fromm in his BEYOND THE CHAINS OF ILLUSION identifies Marx’s key idea: it is that to understand man, society, and politics one must cast off all vestiges of capitalistic culture and morality.  Those who do so, and only they, can escape being blinded by illusions.  Thus anti-capitalists become the know-it-alls, and the potential liberators of mankind.

 

    Unfortunately, many of our most prestigious universities and law schools are severely infected with at least that Marxist viewpoint.  It is a view which intoxicates its followers with the promise of power, and which has little respect for the continuity of legal tradition or the values of popular majorities.

 

    Did we lose the most subtle battle of the Cold War?- Ivan W. Parkins

DDT, Malaria and Hasty

Environmentalism

Or how the ban on DDT has led to millions of malaria deaths.

Why has this not been reported?

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 23-24, 2009, in its lead editorial says, “In 2006, after 25 years and 50 million, preventable deaths, the World Health Organization reversed course and endorsed widespread use of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria.”

 

What! After a mere 50 million lives sacrificed to the ban on DDT, it is withdrawn?  World War II cost all military involved an estimated 25 million lives, and civilian deaths are estimated to have added 30 million more; it was a bigger killer than malaria without DDT.

 

Why have we been so poorly informed in this matter?  Is it that 50 million, mostly poor African children, count less than the three or so, terrorists that our security people have water boarded?  Will the occasional deviations of our national defense establishment  from gentlemanly rules of warfare really cause us greater international grief than our sacrifices to environmentalism of  millions of human beings?  Isn’t there something more than a little skewed in our huge public information system?

Letter to the Editor:

THE MORNING SUN, May 20, 2009

 

Ban on DDT has led to malaria deaths

 

   Linda Gittleman in the front page story May 7, about DDT dangers, uses facts and sources that are not, in my opinion, reliable.  I would refer readers instead to Mark Levin’s recent best-seller, “Liberty and Tyranny.”

   Levin, pages 117-119, offers figures regarding increased deaths from malaria based upon the National Academy of Science’s estimate of 500 million deaths previously prevented by DDT, plus World Health Organization and American Council on Science and Health’s more recent figures.  Levin concludes that additional deaths since the ban number in the millions.

   I would add that, since even Gittleman’s 800,000 figure exceeds the total of American combat fatalities in all wars of the 20th and 21st centuries, it should be a warning against hasty environmentalism.

 Ivan Parkins

Letter to the Editor,

 THE MORNING SUN, 11/23/2003:

 

      Anglo American legal tradition is based upon the idea that laws should be enduring and impersonal.  That is, a free people should be able to plan their lives and to conduct their affairs according to rules which are unlikely to change so frequently or so arbitrarily as to upset their endeavors.

 

      Marxism denies such a possibility—at least until after the revolution.  Law according to Marx, is just another means by which the ruling class controls society.  There is no such thing as impartial law.

 

      Those two theories are an important part of what is at stake in the U.S. Senate battle over confirmation of appellate court nominees.  Our tradition is that a nominee who has performed without obvious bias in lesser positions should qualify for an appellate judgeship.  Of course, people are imperfect, and biases have never been totally absent from our courts.  But our courts have been far different from those of Russia, especially from theirs just after the Revolution.  There, courts were expected to consider the politics and financial resources of parties to a case.  Should we go farther in that direction than we have already?

 

      Traditionally, our appellate courts are not supposed to have much interest in how the parties to a case will be affected by their decision.  The primary job of appellate courts is to assure that the laws are being properly interpreted and applied by courts and officials below.  Appellate courts may remand the case for trial again, and, sometimes with the original result.

 

      Unfortunately, Congress fails in many instances to legislate in a timely and clear manner.  It is partly because of such failures that appellate court nominations are so controversial.  Some members of Congress are willing for the appellate courts to “make” the law.  But, for that they must have judges with just the right political leanings. -Ivan Parkins

MEMORIAL DAY-2009

WE HONOR THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THE ULTIMATE

SACRIFICE FOR OUR COUNTRY.