Legal minds discuss their books at SEMO

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two men of law spoke Wednesday at Southeast Missouri State University, but their speeches may have been more suited for Barnes and Noble than the judicial bench.

Both Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle and Judge Robert Dierker of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri are also authors.

Swingle recently penned his second book, "Scoundrels to the Hoosegow," a collection of real-life tales of funny and astonishing criminal acts. Dierker's book, "The Tyranny of Tolerance," released in December, is an indictment of what he sees as eroding respect for the Constitution and the prevalence of activist judges.

Speaking first, Swingle shared anecdotes from his book. He said he hopes police "go out and catch some more criminals so I can write a sequel."

He introduced Dierker as "Rush Limbaugh on legal steroids."

Unlike Swingle, who keeps a file of cases he calls his "humor file," many years ago Dierker began collecting cases he calls his "ordinary-people-have-rights file." It was from that file he drew the material for his book.

Dierker was inspired by a 1998 harassment case brought by a woman against her employer. He wrote at the time in his decision that a woman's claim to be sexually harassed merely by words comes from the "cloud cuckooland of radical feminism." In the first chapter of his book he calls these women "femifascists."

Dierker told women who bring suits against men who verbally harass them and the judges who encourage it, "you've blown quite a gaping hole in the First Amendment," and asked, "What words are we to forbid?"

But Dierker has other targets. He said since the repeal of the separate-but-equal laws validating segregated schooling, the United States has steadily moved toward a new norm he calls the "more-equal-than-others extreme."

He pointed to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling endorsing Michigan's Law School's use of race as a criteria for admission as an example.

"It's very difficult to discriminate in favor of one group without discriminating against another group," he said.

Most of all, Dierker set his sights on judges who give themselves the rights to levy taxes and interpret the Constitution in ways that are highly creative.

"If courts make up the constitution as they go along, then the Constitution loses all meaning and you have a court of philosopher-kings," he said.

He slammed decisions like a 2003 Supreme Court decision striking down laws against homosexual sodomy.

"Where did they get the idea that homosexual sodomy is a constitutional right? If you would have asked the men who fought in Gettysburg, 'is that what you're fighting for?' they would have thought you were crazy."

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