Ross Mackenzie

Picking up some pieces left by the past weeks' news.

The Supreme Court has ruled on affirmative action, after a fashion. Hardly definitive, the 5-4 ruling will lead only to more confusion and more rulings. The best court thinking on the law school case came principally in the dissents. CLARENCE THOMAS: "I believe blacks can achieve in every avenue of American life without the meddling of university administrators." ANTONIN SCALIA: "The 'educational benefit' the University of Michigan seeks to achieve by racial discrimination . is a lesson of life rather than law.."

In a concurring opinion, even Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted the evanescent, non-law aspects of the ruling: "One may hope . that over the next generation's span, progress toward nondiscrimination and genuinely equal opportunity will make it safe to sunset affirmative action." Yet, of course, the fundamental problem inhering in affirmative action is that it robs its "beneficiaries" of self-esteem. In an affirmative-action hour, no member of a minority, however good, can know whether he (or she) has attained any height because he is good or because he was born into a minority class.

Then there was the Supreme Court's ruling in the Texas sodomy case. In a blistering dissent, Scalia once again demonstrated why many would like to see him as the next chief justice: With its ruling, he said, the Court has "taken sides in the culture war," has "largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda," and has made constitutional sanction of same-sex marriage the prospective next step. However defensible the Court's sodomy ruling may be in terms of privacy, federal sanction of same-sex marriage - thereby institutionalizing abnormal behavior as a statutory norm - would be profoundly wrong. A constitutional proscription against it may prove the only way to go.

And speaking of the law, maybe you saw that Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of the Roe v. Wade case, persists in her 10-year tergiversation against precisely the abortion the Roe ruling defends. Ms. McCorvey now adamantly argues abortion is a hurtful practice that hurts, largely, women.

In Congress, (1) the Senate has passed (and the House likely soon will) legislation giving federal employees (including members of Congress) better prescription drug benefits than those proposed in House and Senate proposals for the everyday rest of us. QUESTION: If, as President Bush and certain members of Congress broadly contend, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) is a model for Medicare, then why are the FEHBP's prescription drug benefits NOT a model for mere mortals who don't happen to be federal employees (or Congresspersons)?

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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