Fredric D. Rutberg: An Eagle Conversation on justice, Supreme Court


"Democracy requires citizenship, and citizenship requires a town square."

Those words led to the 2016 purchase of the company that publishes The Berkshire Eagle. My colleagues and I wanted to restore The Eagle so that it would enliven the discussion of issues important to this community and possibly become a catalyst in assisting a renewal and economic revitalization in the Berkshires.

We want to restore The Eagle's place as the "town square" for the entire region, and The Berkshire Eagle Conversation Series is a visible part of this effort. The series is intended to be an entertaining, but serious, discussion of important topics by notable people with Berkshire connections, in an atmosphere that is conducive to active listening and careful questioning. The inaugural Eagle Conversation held in September — on faith, ethics and civility in today's political atmosphere — certainly met these criteria.

The second in our series of Eagle Conversations — this Thursday evening at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox — will explore the future of justice in the United States with an emphasis on the Supreme Court. I believe it, too, will be interesting and informative as well as provocative. The topic is serious and the conversation will address issues of importance to most informed citizens, but knowing the participants, I am sure that it also will be an entertaining evening.

Does the addition of Justice Kavanaugh to the court herald the completion of a conservative agenda that includes reversing Roe v. Wade, undoing the constitutional guarantee to gay marriage, and giving mainstream religious beliefs governmental support? Or, is this simply a move of the court's center slightly to the right? What impact might the reinterpretation of civil liberties have on citizens of Massachusetts whose state constitution also guarantees citizens similar rights?

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These questions and others will be discussed, but probably not answered, by two people who have unique insights as to how the court works.

Justice Francis X. Spina sat on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for 17 years, so he has knowledge of a true insider on how collegiality impacts judges' decisions and opinions.

Until her retirement, Linda Greenhouse covered the U.S. Supreme Court for The New York Times. She continues to write books about the court, its justices and their interactions.

I am confident that whatever your political persuasion, regardless of the level of your knowledge of the law, the Constitution or the court, you will be pleased to have attended this Conversation.

The Berkshire Eagle is proud to help set a tone for serious, polite discussion of divisive issues, and I hope you decide to be a part of the Conversation.

Fredric D. Rutberg is president, publisher and a co-owner of The Berkshire Eagle. A retired district court judge, Rutberg also will serve as Thursday's night's moderator.


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