The Supreme Court’s Tarnished Reputation

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  • Pumping Groundwater and the Earth’s Wobble
  • Treating Politicians as Messiahs
  • How Libraries Can Help Homeless People

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Having read The Times’s reporting on the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action and another essentially authorizing discrimination under the guise of religious liberty, I have a message for Chief Justice John Roberts.

I have been a member of the Supreme Court Bar for 25 years. I joined the Bar because I was appointed to represent a prisoner seeking to address the court. It was a proud moment, because I was doing my duty, and had reverence for the institution.

However, the recent actions and decisions of the current majority are simply appalling. It is clear that the majority is not acting as a court, but as an unelected political body ignoring every rule of law it was sworn to uphold. This is an affront to all who preceded you, to your colleagues in the minority and to members of the federal judiciary upholding their oath.

I am embarrassed to be associated with this court in any way. I have worked too hard and long to be sullied by an association with such disregard for the law and ethics. I am resigning.

Kelly Dahl
Linden Grove Township, Minn.

To the Editor:

Here I was thinking that the justices were trying to resuscitate their tarnished reputations after their egregious ruling last year reversing Roe v. Wade, going against the wishes of the vast majority of the American people.

I was hopeful because there have been some very reasonable rulings this session. I was particularly relieved that they ruled against state legislatures that wanted complete control over elections, which could have ended our democracy.

But I was wrong, as became obvious when they took away a 40-year precedent in overturning affirmative action.

Women, minorities — their needs are dispensable. Ah, but not religious Christians! The justices also ruled that a web designer could refuse to serve L.G.B.T.Q. people because of religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court, made up of unelected justices, seems to be the most powerful branch of government right now, and the justices are busy making over this country in their own conservative political image. They are completely out of touch with what the majority of the American people want. And they answer to no one.

Ellen Sussman

To the Editor:

In a response to criticism by Justice Elena Kagan and clearly as an attempt to discipline and intimidate the other liberal justices as well, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the student loan decision: “It has become a disturbing feature of some recent opinions to criticize the decisions with which they disagree as going beyond the proper role of the judiciary.” He added: “It is important that the public not be misled either. Any such misperception would be harmful to this institution and our country.”

Without the rage and disgust of the liberal judges there would not even be a sliver of respect left for an institution whose majority is driven by bullying arrogance, logic-chopping heartless literal-mindedness and a reactionary rage growing more unhinged by the day.

Robert Roth
New York

To the Editor:

These days, the three scariest words in the English language are “6 to 3.”

Harry Nussdorf
The writer is a retired assistant district attorney.

Pumping Groundwater and the Earth’s Wobble

Though you can’t feel it, Earth’s rotation is nowhere near as smooth as that of the globe on your desk.Credit…Norman Kuring, NASA/GSFC/Suomi NPP

To the Editor:

Re “The Earth’s Axis Is Shifting, and We’re the Reason” (front page, June 29):

Wow! Even after 30 years of work on groundwater, I was startled to learn that our extraction rate is contributing to the Earth’s growing wobble. I immediately envision the millions of wells supplying small desert communities, sprawling cities and massive agricultural complexes. And then I think of the billions of people depending on water from these wells, and the crops grown from them, for their nourishment.

It’s those people who make the groundwater question so crucial and so knotted: Billions of lives now depend on a system of extraction that is quite literally spinning out of control. We can’t simply stop the pumps. What we can do is shift our relationship with aquifers, see them less as sources of limitless water and more as infrastructure, near magical, that deserves and needs proactive care.

This means empowering local managers with data-rich tools to steer their own groundwater futures, opening up avenues to viable cutbacks in use (such as land repurposing), and enabling increased, safe recharge.

Despite the Earth-wobbling impact of our over-extraction, I have hope. This is an urgent but not impossible problem to solve. The list of tools at our disposal and the will for change is growing. Let’s not let this warning sign go to waste.

Maurice Hall
Santa Fe, N.M.
The writer is senior adviser to the Climate Resilient Water Systems program at the Environmental Defense Fund.

To the Editor:

The measurable effect of groundwater pumping on Earth’s spin is another piece of compelling evidence that we have entered the Anthropocene Epoch. Adding Anthropocene to the geological time scale helps acknowledge the profound effects of human activities on our planet’s climate and environment.

Guohua Li
Montebello, N.Y.

Treating Politicians as Messiahs

Credit…Photographs by Mark Peterson for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Coalition of the Distrustful,” by Michelle Goldberg (column, July 2):

By citing “an almost spiritual belief” that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. “could heal the hatred and suspicions that make Americans want to shut one another down,” Ms. Goldberg demonstrates how some Democrats can fall into the same kind of messianic thinking that Republicans have fallen into for Donald Trump.

So the problem goes deeper than political parties. It goes to the self-sabotaging and common human belief that someone else has the answers — the antithesis of self-rule.

Mr. Trump is infamous for spouting advice based on “what I have heard,” not on facts. He rides on conspiracy theories, and his base rides right along with him.

Now, it seems, the society at large has hitched onto that ride. We go without thinking, into the dark, and into endless battle.

Peter Gerler
Newtonville, Mass.

How Libraries Can Help Homeless People

Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “City Hits Milestone With 100,000 in Shelters” (news article, June 30):

The news that New York City’s homeless population has reached 100,000, with migrants the majority of those in shelters, should fill us all with despair. As a lifelong New Yorker, I find the abundance of homeless individuals and families on the streets heartbreaking.

How will all these individuals get the services they need? Social service agencies and social workers are often overextended and unable to meet the diverse needs of so many people who, in addition, may feel fearful of seeking institutional help. As the article points out, they have no resources.

Enter the public libraries, some of which now have social workers or social work interns at their branches. The libraries are among the last free, accessible and welcoming-to-all public spaces and can provide some of the assistance that’s needed.

One primary benefit available is the use of computers, which provide the gateway to benefits, including access to housing, ID cards, health care referrals, job applications, etc. Most homeless people, especially recent arrivals, are unaware of the support that our public library systems can provide.

Please make this valuable resource known to all constituents; it’s a source of free, destigmatized and little-known-about help. Library social workers are a growing work force nationally and are ready to assist.

Peggy Morton
New York
The writer is a clinical associate professor, Silver School of Social Work, New York University.

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