According to The Post's Dec. 5 editorial, Philip Elman's "greatest contribution" was as the principal author of the friend-of-the-court brief filed in Brown v. Board of Education. The editorial said that in preparing the government's brief, Mr. Elman had private discussions with Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, during which Mr. Frankfurter told Mr. Elman about his views, as well as those of other justices. The editorial concluded with a quote attributed to Mr. Frankfurter about Mr. Elman's "real service to [his] country."

Nowhere does the editorial mention the impropriety of this conduct. Mr. Elman's discussions with the court on a pending case violated the canons of ethical conduct. These canons are designed to protect the judicial process from accusations of bias and prejudgment. Ethical rules required Mr. Elman to recuse himself from the case and to make known his contacts with the court to the opposing party. He did neither.

The Post celebrates this misconduct without a mention of its impropriety. Either the editorial board lacks sufficient knowledge about basic canons of ethical conduct or it condones such conduct because it is happy with the court's opinion in Brown. Neither explanation is acceptable.


Silver Spring