Reductio ad absurdum is a useful technique in humor, as well as in debate, and Herm Albright uses it effectively.
His reaction to the school busing controversy is: "Why don't they bus judges, parents and social planners, and leave the kids alone?"
The Supreme Court's recent ruling on unannounced searches can also be reduced to absurdity. You will recall that the court said police have the right to search premises owned or occupied by people who are innocent of any criminal activity.
The court said that if the police think an innocent person's files may contain evidence that some other person committed a crime, they can get a warrant authorizing them to rummage through those files. They can then read anything they find interesting.
This ruling has upset a lot of people. It worries newspaper people because information - some verified, some not - about all kinds of suspected misconduct clutters newspaper files. It is of concern to doctors, lawyers, bankers and accountants because their relationships with clients often make them privy to information that is supposed to be kept confidential. It can be an embarrassment to friends, relatives, business associates and even clergymen who have been asked for help or counsel.
It would be interesting, therefore, if the police used this Supreme Court decision to obtain a warrant authorizing them to search through Chief Justice Warren Burger's private papers on the suspicion that those records might contain information about criminal activity by others. Can you picture the chief justice of the United States being subjected to such an indignity?
For me, that picture is a little fuzzy. I see a man in pajamas answering the door, pistol in hand; and I hear his outraged protest when he learns that police are about to search his home and his personal records for evidence of another person's misconduct.
But I have the feeling that Herm Albright wouldn't consider the idea outrageous. I think Herm would love it.
After all, if judges can invite police to rummage through newspaper files, why can't newspapermen suggest that the police rummage through judicial files?
Even if the cops didn't find any evidence of criminal activity, they might find other interesting things. Wouldn't that be great fun? POSTSCRIPT
Speaking of court decisions, the Bulletin of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators has reviewed several interesting cases.
So many people are being killed in alcohol-related auto smashups that some prosecutors have begun to ask for murder verdicts. The Bulletin tells of cases in Kentucky, Alabama and Louisiana.
In a negligent homicide case on appeal in Louisiana, the court said driving while intoxicated does not constitute criminal negligence per se.
Alabama's Supreme Court said an individual cannot be convicted of murder in the first degree when the facts show only that he "determined to, and did, drive an automobile that was involved in a collision that caused the death of another, even though the driver had knowledge of his own intoxication."
However, the Supreme Court of Kentucky upheld a verdict of murder against a defendant who drove through a red light at high speed while intoxicated. Kentucky law says a person is guilty of murder when he "wantonly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk to another person and thereby causes the death of another person." In short, what is murder in one jurisdiction is not murder in another.
And as we noted earlier in this column, the Supreme Court has ruled that admittedly innocent people shall no longer be secure in their persons and possessions - although this same court insists that every hoodlum, every chronic offender, must not only be accorded his full civil rights, he must be advised what those rights are.
Small wonder that laymen find laws and courts so confusing. At this point, even the snail darters must be wondering what the hell is going on. ADD SIGNS
An auto with a University of Michigan decal in the back window also displays a legend that requires a bit of study: "OHHOWIHATE OHIO STATE."
For Father's Day, lawyer James B. Goding received a T-shirt on the front of which was the lettering, "Old lawyers never die, they just lose their appeal."