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SUPPORT FOR BREYER IS AN INSULT TO OUR STRIFE-BASED INSTITUTIONS

SHARE SUPPORT FOR BREYER IS AN INSULT TO OUR STRIFE-BASED INSTITUTIONS

We don't get to have a big old fight about the latest Supreme Court nominee. In Washington, Judge Stephen Breyer said he was "delighted" over his widespread bipartisan support.

Easy for him to say.Government, don't forget, is supposed to be a free-for-all, and the excessive praise given to Breyer is heresy.

Sen. George Mitchell, D-Me., predicted "an overwhelming vote of confidence" for Breyer.

Senator Robert Dole, R-Kan., said, "The president's made a good choice."

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., praised him, then joked: "Judge Breyer has announced his withdrawal. He doesn't want us to be denied a difficult fight."

I'm not laughing, Senator!

Utah's own Sen. Orrin Hatch said that knowing Breyer's "excellent reputation . . . it would have been impossible for me not to support him."

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who hardly ever agrees with Hatch, hired Breyer several years ago as counsel for the Judiciary Committee.

"He's a real friend of the consumer and a strong proponent of competition."

Even Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., no friend of the Clinton administration, has given Breyer a ringing endorsement.

So far, only two senators have made even the tiniest little criticisms.

Sen. Howard Metzembaum, D-Ohio, is worried that Breyer is pro-business - and Sen. Larry Pressler, R-S.D., is suspicious of Breyer's role in deregulating the airlines.

These two senators were so remarkably impolite as to utter actual critical comments about the judge.

It's not enough for me. I worry when someone gets too smooth a ride in Washington. Our governmental system is firmly built on the undeniable principles of conflict and antagonism.

With most Supreme Court nominees, we have no trouble scrounging up enough unpleasant stuff from their past to elicit feelings of panic.

Had Bruce Babbitt been the nominee, Sen. Hatch said, "The country would have stopped dead in its tracks."

Now that's the kind of criticism we are accustomed to - and the kind we need if we are to keep America great.

So I've been racking my brain for bad things to say about Breyer - and, miraculously, I came up with a disturbing document from his past.

It is a letter, dated June 16, 1983, from former Justice Arthur Goldberg, whom Breyer served as a law clerk. Goldberg said, "I still believe your opinions are too long."

Now that's a genuine skeleton in Breyer's closet - and more than enough reason to hold up his confirmation. If there's anything we don't need in government today, it's more long-winded people.

But even worse, I discovered that Breyer once wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, Feb. 26, 1993, complimenting Boston drivers for restoring his faith in human nature.

Now get this - Breyer was on his way to give a lecture when a Boston driver - who usually would be expected to honk and scream - pushed the judge's stalled car out of the South Station Tunnel, leaving him near a phone booth.

This is outrageous, because not only has no Boston driver ever committed an act of kindness - but no one, to my knowledge, has ever devoted a sincere word of praise to a Boston driver.

Surely these two incidents are impetus enough to reconsider Judge Bryer's ability to serve on the court and put him through the political hellfire he deserves.

I rest my case.