Of Big Thinkers And Small Minds

Ralph Waldo Emerson contended that, “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

So is politicized inconsistency.

A useful comparison presented itself with Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch the same week the fires of intolerance literally burned on the campus of UC-Berkeley.

Gorsuch noted that, if confirmed, he would occupy the seat held by both Justices Antonin Scalia and Robert Jackson.

His inclusion of the underappreciated Jackson was telling.

In the seminal case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, arguing that, “compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard,” Jackson held that students didn’t have to salute the American flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance and thereby protected the religious liberty rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Gorsuch’s jurisprudence has been similarly enlightened, consistently protecting the religious liberty rights of those ranging from the Little Sisters of the Poor to an imprisoned Muslim man convicted of rape and burglary.

Contrast that with the scene at Berkeley, the birthplace and now resting place of the campus free speech movement.

Students committed acts of violence necessitating police to don riot gear because they were intent on silencing a conservative speaker.

Shall America chart her course with big thinkers like Gorsuch or Berkeley’s small-minded hobgoblins?

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