Robert Kaiser's analysis of why Douglas Ginsburg had to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court {"Judge's Downfall Reflects Conflicts in American Culture," Nov. 8} was just so much hooey.

Judge Ginsburg had to withdraw his nomination for only one reason: he broke the law. Mr. Kaiser would have us believe that the judge is the victim of societal schizophrenia vis-a`-vis the use of marijuana. Not only did Judge Ginsburg break the law, he broke it while he was giving instruction in the law and presumably presenting a role model for his students. Just how does one teach legal precepts by day and smoke an illegal substance by night? What Judge Ginsburg demonstrated by his admitted substance abuse was a cavalier disregard for the societal norms -- called laws -- he was supposed to be holding in the highest regard.

Some will say, well, it was just a few times, and he's truly sorry. That's fine for almost anyone except a nominee to the highest court in the land. As Joe Biden and Gary Hart found out, individuals who aspire to lead this nation had better consider whether they believe in their heart of hearts that the rules really do apply to them also. Caesar's wife would understand. ROGER ELMORE Woodbridge

The quixotic and precipitous rise and fall of Judge Ginsburg is a sorry commentary on the moral bearings of the Reagan crowd. Judge Ginsburg, it seems, is unfit by reason of infrequent experimentation with marijuana. (Really, how shocking!) By contrast, his unwillingness or inability to discern the ethical conflict inherent in making prosecutorial decisions that could affect his personal investments apparently disturbed none of these pompous defenders of the moral fiber.

The fall of Judge Ginsburg is the logical culmination of the distortion of the "character" issue: purely private matters are now placed under a magnifying lens, while unethical conduct affecting the public weal goes effectively unexposed. MARK P. COHEN Takoma Park

As we watch Judge Ginsburg pay the price for a small flaw in his behavior, we might remember an event from an earlier era.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, as great a Supreme Court justice as we're ever likely to see, was discovered to have a fondness for attending burlesque shows. Today, the news would be a sensation. Then, Justice Holmes put an end to the matter by simply snapping: "I like to think high and live low." WILLIAM B. CAREY Berkeley Springs, W. Va.

I, like Judge Ginsburg, experimented with marijuana in my younger days. I tried it a couple of times in high school. Shortly after graduation I made a religious commitment, which ended my experimentation. I later went to seminary and currently work as the youth minister of a small church. This revelation will not cost me my job. In fact, to use religious jargon, it will provide "a good testimony."

Judge Ginsburg, however, should have been denied his nomination. Sound hypocritical? Let me explain.

If he had used marijuana only during his school days, all the rhetoric coming from the Reagan administration about his forgivable days of misspent youth would be valid. But that is not the case here. What we have is a man who broke the law after he had made a public commitment to uphold it. He was not just an impetuous college kid; he was a law professor, committed to upholding and teaching the ethics of the law. His actions would be considered a felony in many states. They certainly cast doubt on his ability to preside with integrity on the nation's highest court.

If I revealed that, after my ordination, while working in a previous ministry, I had experimented with marijuana, I would probably be removed from my current position -- and rightly so. My previous actions while a moral leader of young people would call into question my current ability to be a credible moral leader. Judge Ginsburg's unethical and illegal actions while he was a teacher of the law damaged his credibility. WES MASON Burke

Robert Kaiser {Nov. 8} indicated that Judge Ginsburg's withdrawal illustrated a conflict between the reality of widespread drug use in the 1960s and a "puritan" morality. However, it seems unnecessary to reach a legal -- much less a moral -- question.

It was well established by the 1950s that cigarette smoking was medically unwise. That being so, it did not take genius -- or the "leadership" now offered by Bruce Babbitt and Al Gore -- for college students in the 1960s to avoid marijuana. Similarly, drug users in the Vietnam-era Army were simply regarded as unreliable. For those seeking public trust, the "foolish youth/everybody did it" argument won't wash. MICHAEL H. DOUGHERTY Ocean City, Md.