To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, August 23, 1997

Break the
circle of patronage

CITIZENS rely on the state's highest court to find justice in the most obscure cases. Why, then, can't the Hawaii Supreme Court see something as plain to the average person as the mustache on John Waihee's face?

When they appoint as Bishop Estate trustees powerful politicians, who themselves appoint members of the Judicial Selection Commission, who in turn nominate candidates for the Supreme Court, etc., our esteemed justices lower themselves into base politics.

Forget the specifics -- the structure of the circle itself invites abuse and should be broken. Somehow, that simple fact has failed to penetrate the layers of now-impugned ''integrity, honesty, ethics, intelligence, qualifications, competence and professionalism'' in which the justices have wrapped themselves.

A new constitutional convention vote is looming -- thanks to a federal judge. Switching to an elected judiciary is an option. Voters have to wonder, could we do worse?

H.L. Mencken wrote in a different time and place that we have a political system under which the people, having huge numbers of adults to choose from ''including thousands who are handsome and many who are wise, pick out a Coolidge to be head of state. It is as if a hungry man, set before a banquet should turn his back upon the feast and stay his stomach by catching and eating flies.'' What would he say today about Peters, Wong, et al?

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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