Launching a Bicentennial Bill of Rights the Right Way
Sitomer, Curtis J., The Christian Science Monitor
A DISCUSSION of justice in the United States usually results from theperpetration of some gross injustice. There is nothing wrong with responding tobad with good.
The beauty of the system is that government, or any establishment, cannotfor long keep social and moral indignities under wraps. It was only a matter oftime before racial and gender discrimination were addressed and legislated andlitigated against.
As this nation approaches the bicentennial of its Bill of Rights next year,bias and prejudice still exist. Religious bigotry continues to flare up. Unequaljustice for the poor, minorities, and have-nots is rife in some places.
Laws in the democratic context are generally just. A system of checks andbalances helps ensure fairness. Higher courts reverse lower courts onaffirmative action; gubernatorial vetoes strike down excessively restrictivestate legislative measures on abortion; municipal ordinances that curb freedomof speech are often turned around by voter indignation.
The system works - but not always fast enough or well enough. People tend togive up too easily. There are many avenues of recourse to right wrongs. Amongthem are increasingly important legal alternatives, including mini-trials,neighborhood jurisdictions, arbitration, and informal negotiation. The forums ofadvocacy, including civil rights and constitutional rights groups, religiousliberties organizations, and citizens' self-help outlets, provide the public avehicle for protest against social wrongs.
Bill of Rights celebrations will include school programs and civic displays. …