Recently, there has been a debate about what to name the new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City [Hits & Misses, June 27, City Weekly]. Some want it to be named after Sen. Orrin Hatch, others want former Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland’s name to grace the new building. Here’s an idea: Don’t name it after either of them!
Name it after the late, great Willis Ritter instead. For those of you who don’t remember him, Ritter served as a U.S. District judge for the District of Utah from 1949 until his death in 1978. A staunch defender of civil and individual rights, Ritter was also a stalwart advocate for the environment, the rights of the accused and the underdog.
Sure, he had his eccentric moments, like when he ordered the arrests of 24 post-office workers because they were making too much noise while court was in session, or when he declared the Salt Lake City parking ordinance unconstitutional and barred the city from issuing parking tickets for 10 days. But I wholeheartedly believe that his good points—his innate brilliance, his indomitable passion for the law, his undeniable contribution to the legal community—far outweigh his eccentricities.
It would be a fitting tribute to name the new federal courthouse after Willis Ritter, a truly magnanimous defender of civil liberties and the Constitution.
West Valley City