Day: February 19, 2016

Obama must nominate justice

The funeral for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia hasn’t been held yet and already the forces are out to hyper-politicize the naming of his replacement. Scalia died last weekend at the age of 79 after serving nearly 30 years on the nation’s highest court. He is being lionized across the spectrum as a giant in the judicial world, a first-class intellecdtual and a never-say-die defender of conservative values. The United States Supreme Court can boast any number of great thinkers in its history from John Marshall to Charles Evan Hughes to Earl Warren. The Constution calls for the president to nominate justices and the Senate to advise and consent on the choice. The confirming of justices was a fairly routine affair until President Lyndon Johnson unwisely tried to get his friend Abe Fortas approved as chief justice to replace Earl Warren. Fortas’ own shortcomings (and the political calendar of 1968) forced him to resign from the court. In 1987 President Reagan nominated Robert Bork (famous, in part, for his role in the Saturday Night Massacre of the Watergate Era). Bork was a staunch conservative and Constutional orginalist; he was vilifed and opposed by many groups (and one of only three Court nominees ever to be opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union). His nomination was defeated by a 42-58 vote. Reagan then nominated Anthony Kennedy who was...

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Thanks for your kindness

To the Editor: To the gentleman who found my bank card, I would like to say “thank you” for going out of your way to return it to my bank.  As fate would have it, I was frantically searching for my card today when I realized it was missing. At that moment, I received a call from my bank that it was there, safe and sound. Thank you, I love a happy ending! Yet another reason why I love living in Keizer! Audrey Butler...

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What Keizer loses

Tuesday’s city council meeting was the final one for Brandon Smith. He submitted his resignation last week; he is moving to Salem, making him ineligible to serve on the body. Smith has served twice on council. He was appointed to a vacancy in late 2007 and won the seat in his own right in the 2008 election and served until early 2013. He commenced an unsuccessful write-in candidacy to retain his seat against Ken LeDuc. Smith ran unopposed for the city council in the 2014 election. Though always true to his political and ideological leanings, Smith was an unabashed supporter of everything Keizer. That’s evident in his resume of service on a wide number of commissions, committees and task forces. His chairmanship of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board was important because it brought about the matching grant program that allowed the community to improve parks if it raised half of the cost of a project. Smith was at the forefront of a move to create stable funding for Keizer’s many parks. Discussions are on-going about a parks district or other options. Brandon Smith was not a showy politician. He quietly worked on the tasks at hand; he asked insightful questions at council meetings and didn’t accept as final any answers he did not agree with. What Keizer loses with the loss of Brandon Smith from the city...

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Replacing Scalia will take epic effort

By MICHAEL GERSON  A public official can fight to expand the power and prerogatives of his office with skill and cunning. Defending the prerogatives of other officials, in another branch of government, is done only out of principle. Justice Antonin Scalia spent a career in America’s judicial aristocracy defending representative democracy. He wanted courts to play a limited, supportive role, interpreting texts produced by representatives of the people. If new meanings are required —as they often are, in a varied, progressing country—then it is the people who need to provide them. “Do you think the American people would ever have ratified” the Constitution, Scalia asked, if they had known that “the meaning of this document shall be whatever a majority of the Supreme Court says it is?” On issues such as abortion rights, he said that judges “vote on the basis of what they feel,” which amounts to “the destruction of our democratic system.” The reaction of judges who enjoy a starring role in American government was, and is, negative. Which is unsurprising. Progressive judges have an interest in making their private moral intuitions the law of the land, without the inconvenience of having to persuade their fellow citizens. If judicial decision-making involves the interpretation of evolving standards, this gives tremendous influence to the interpreters. Progressives generally like this approach because it has secured progressive outcomes. But, as a...

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Put more effort into CTE for students

Some of our state legislators will get into something that has complex features and then over-simplify it for the sake of political gain.  A classical example of such a matter is a guest opinion in another newspaper by Republican Senator Ted Ferrioli of John Day who wrote glowingly but without a word about the historic shortcomings regarding career and technical education programs (CTE) for Oregon high school students. He began reasonably enough when he wrote that in spite of low graduation numbers and poor school outcomes, it’s important for state political leaders to want to bring about investments for improvements in Oregon’s schools. Wisely, he doesn’t want to see another task force devoted to this matter; rather, he seeks budget allocations  for programs that have, mostly in other times and places, proven their value.  These are career and technical education programs or CTEs. Ferrioli reminds readers in his piece that the state’s Department of Education reported recently that CTE students in Oregon are 15.5 percent more likely to graduate from a high school in four years time than their fellow students, without CTE involvement. This information should surprise no one who has been in Oregon public education for a while as this statistic could have been borrowed from report after report on the value and importance of career and vocational education as long ago as the 1970s if not decades before. Unlike schools in most European nations where academic and vocational-technical schools are separately made...

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