In reaction to the Griffin-Conservative opposition to the confirmation of Abe Fortas as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Senator Hart, also of Michigan, in a televised interview decried the fact that the question of confirmation seemed to compromise the principle of the separation of the three branches of government. He deplored the fact that confirmation had become a political issue which tended to threaten the Court’s right to Olympian aloofness to the issues which are the basis for party strife and faction.

A look at the recent history of the Court, however, will show that the pragmatic political liberals are trying to have it both ways with their protege, Fortas. Not only has it been the case that Fortas was involved with the Chief Executive, but the liberal pragmatist predecessors of Fortas on the Court were the ones who denied the notion that law is eternal and changeless. They were the ones who insisted that law is subject to change on the basis of political demand.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. suggested that law is what the courts make it. “Individual liberty extends no farther than what the crowd will fight for, be it religion or a glass of beer.” Or again, “I cannot get worked up over the problem of evil. It strikes me as twaddle.” (Letters, Vol. II, p. 866, Aug. 20, 1929). As to the possibility of any eternal verities, Holmes goes on as follows. “Truth may be cosmically ultimate for all I know. I merely surmise that our last word is not the last word any more than that of horses or dogs. It is our last word, nonetheless, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t do our job in the station in which we were born without waiting for an angel to assure us that it is the jobbiest job in jobdom. (The Holmes-Cohen Correspondence, Felix S. Cohen ed. New York, 1948, p. 110, May 27, 1917).

Prior to the domination of the Court by pragmatic liberals, non· Christian jurists had generally appealed to universal or natural law. This was true of the Stoics, Cicero and others down to the present. This law was of divine origin according to various definitions of divinity or it was inherent in the nature of the universe as a kind of cosmic intelligence. It stood above the foibles and fads of men. Kings and legislators were subject to it and must take cognizance of it. And while this law concept was immanentistic and apostate, it agreed with the Christian approach to law in the fact that it assumed that law was changeless and objective over against the passing fancies of man in any particular moment in history.

Not so, said the pragmatists. Dewey said that all goals are to be temporary and all ends are changing with the process of attaining them. Ends are extremely fugitive. They evade us as we approach them, quickly changing before they have been realized.

As a leader of the pragmatist jurists, Holmes said, “All that can be expected from modern improvements is that legislation should easily and quickly, yet not too quickly, modify itself in accordance with the will of the ‘de facto’ supreme power in the community, and that the spread of an educated sympathy should reduce the sacri6ce of minorities to a minimum.”

If there are no abiding principles of law, either natural or divine, then, it seems to me, consistency would demand that the pragmatic liberals ought to welcome a test of their work on the basis of current political trends, be they conservative or liberal. There ought to be a gracious acceptance of a repudiation of the present direction of the Court if that is reflected by the Griffin-led opposition to the confirmation of Abe Fortas.

On the other hand, if the Justices consider themselves the custodians of certain divine mandates and eternal verities, they should adjudicate these according to their best lights and then ignore the passing political parade. If they so judge, then they can stand aloof from the turmoil of election year politics. And only if they so judge, do those who concur in their opinions have a right to decry the fact that the confirmation of Abe Fortas has become a political pigskin in this election year.

Then also, Abe Fortas should not insinuate himself into the councils of the Chief Executive nor should he be participating in university seminars where the size of the fee is based on the prestige of the Bench and reaped as a kind of bench-bonus.

It is quite common for politicians to suggest to the electorate that they can entertain contradictory assumptions. Voters are often told that, if elected, the political aspirant will increase services while at the same time reducing taxes, while logic and common sense dictates that this is an impossibility. Senator Hart, even in political philosophies one cannot have his cake and eat it. It would be well for you to know this.


Nick Van Til is Professor of Philosophy at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa.


We are living in what may be called the “Period of Drift.” Snow piles in drifts according to the direction of the wind. So too, minds are driven by every wind of doctrine, lacking the perception to judge what is happening to them. There seem to be no fixed points or timeless standards.

The drift is dangerous. Our nation, like other countries everywhere, begins to display some chilling characteristics. I am thinking of the terrifying breakdown of authority, honesty and decency!

Newsweek describes the young people of our day this way: “On the most superficial level, they wear their hair too long and their skirts too short and play their transistors too loud. Worse, some smoke pot and use obscene language. But of all the insults that the young inflict upon society, perhaps the most galling is that they systematically thumb their noses at authority—at the values of their parents, the precepts of their teachers and the actions of their governments.”

In their outrage, many adults have looked for simple explanations for all this unsettling behavior. Some snappy judgments are made and some wild solutions are offered. We all know about instant coffee, instant dinners, instant pudding. Now we want instant solutions to cure our youth from their rebellion. We must look below the surface. Then we shall discover that we are paying a price for parental permissiveness. Modern parents are listening to Dr. Spock and forgetting about the Son of God, listening to baby-care books and forgetting about the Bible. listening to Prophets of the Secular City and forgetting about the Prophets of the Sacred Canon.

There is a song that is sung by the Beatles which runs something like this: “She is leaving home after living alone for so many years.” There was no parental influence in the life of the girl about whom this song is written.

It could be a telling commentary of our times! We can never stress enough the importance of the home. A family-counselor has said: The home is the place where the seeds of wholesome attitudes and right behavior are sown—or not sown. Parents are the gardeners. The heart is the seedbed and what is sown there is most important. What your child becomes depends largely on the kind of person you, the parent, are. He learns to love by being loved. He learns to trust by being trusted. He learns to be friendly by experiencing friendliness.” By means of the living example do our children learn to love God and to follow Christ.

But there is more. Next to our homes we need schools where the Bible is given its rightful place and where the whole curriculum is permeated with a Christian world-and-life view. Such schools are the Christian schools. The Christian grade school and the Christian High School as well as the Christian College have been erected and are maintained for one important reason: TO EQUIP OUR BOYS AND GIRLS WITH STANDARDS, NOT DERIVED FROM WHAT OTHERS SAY AND DO, BUT FROM THE UNCHANGING VALUES SET FORTH IN THE BIBLE.

Christian parents will want their children taught in a Christ-honoring way. True, the expenses are high. The cost of education is soaring. But is it not worth every nickel? The few years we have our children with us are crucial years. They need standards to live by; they need a purpose to live for; they need ideals to live up to. Give your son or daughter a Christian education! Christian schools can signi6cantly avert the dangerous drift of our “mad” world.


Rev. Michael De Vries is pastor of the Rehoboth Christian Reformed Church, Toronto, Ontario.