John Hinderaker and Paul Mirengoff were wrong when they wrote that, unlike liberals, conservatives "are willing to settle for what they can get from Congress and the state legislatures" [Outlook, Nov. 6]. The Rehnquist Court overturned more statutes than any other Supreme Court, and its most conservative members, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, voted in the minority to overturn even more statutes.

The authors acknowledged that "conservatives sometimes hold statutes unconstitutional," but only to "enforce the Constitution as it is written." There is a difference of opinion about how to interpret the Constitution. However, this difference is not about liberals' desire to "make stuff up" and conservatives' desire to apply the Constitution fairly.

Liberals believe phrases such as equal protection, due process and liberty should be interpreted broadly to achieve the ultimate purpose of the Constitution: freedom, equality and justice for all Americans. Conservatives believe these phrases should be interpreted narrowly, a reading unsupported by the text or the history of the Constitution.

This country is a much better place than it was 100 years ago. One reason is that the courts were willing to read constitutional phrases expansively -- for instance, to protect the rights of minorities and women as well as the freedom of speech for everyone. Many of these advances would not have occurred, or would have been long delayed, if the authors' conservative philosophy had been followed.