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Image 1 of The Courier Journal, April 5, 2012

Part of Porter, Jean

Time: 04-04-2012 18:17 User: marjohnson EDITORIALS Supreme apprehension T he U.S. Supreme Court has gone from conservative, to radical, to mindboggling. In its latest jaw-dropping action, the four right-wing justices, joined by swing-vote conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, ruled Monday that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, even driving without a license or violating a leash law for dogs, before admitting them to jail. The procedures accepted by the majority in the 5-4 decision, even in instances where there are no reasonable grounds for suspecting smuggled weapons or drugs, are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and are counter to federal policies, according to The New York Times. Moreover, according to a brief filed by the American Bar Association, giving authorities such a free hand on strip-searches violates international human rights treaties to which the United States is a signatory. Granted, the justices did not require that strip-searches be conducted on all newly arrived inmates. But it did rule that officials’ ability to conduct stripsearches is not limited by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches. And these are the justices and the slice of American political opinion that blather on about “liberty” from supposedly excessive government authority when they talk of insurance mandates required by national health care reform? It’s sheer hypocrisy. In that context, and speaking of health care reform, it’s easy at first blush to sympathize with President Obama’s stern warning Monday to the Court. While expressing confidence that a majority of justices would uphold the 2010 health care law, he said it would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary” step to overturn legislation passed by a democratically elected Congress. The President, a former professor of constitutional law, is right about this particular case. The Constitution’s “commerce clause” and its grant of taxation powers to the Congress clearly provide authority for a health insurance mandate enforced through tax penalties. To reject that critical provision, let alone to toss out the entire law, would be grotesque overreach and leave no serious alternative but to conclude that the Court was acting on narrow partisan grounds. That said, the President was wrong to suggest that there is no precedent for the Court to rule a law unconstitutional. Actually, judicial review of the constitutionality of legislative and executive branch actions is part of what the federal courts do — and have done since the landmark Marbury v. Madison decision of 1803. Moreover, Mr. Obama took his case a step too far in suggesting that overturning a law would represent “judicial activism or the lack of judicial restraint” by “an unelected group of people.” Using such language lends credence to phrases generally employed by the right-wing fringe to condemn the judiciary. And who wants judges to be elected? We have them in Kentucky and many other state systems, and they are generally not a good idea. The President later wisely moderated his comments to say that the courts should be hesitant to overturn a congressional act. But even with more restrained language, he is folding the court case into his own presidential race. Commentators can do that, of course, but at this point neither the White House nor Congress should inject politics into the Court’s deliberations. Dehumanizing women I t’s one thing for pregnant or breastfeeding women to make jokes about feeling like a broodmare or a dairy animal. It’s quite another thing for legislators designing laws that impact women’s reproductive choices to invoke beasts of burden when they argue to limit those options. But that is precisely what has happened in Illinois and Georgia. For the second year running, anti-abortion activists in Illinois have gone through — believe it — the Agriculture and Conservation Committee in order to introduce a bill that would place onerous regulations on health care facilities that provide abortions and contraception. Last year, the ACLU reported, the agriculture committee “heard debates over muskrats and hunting before considering this measure.” In a Georgia House session last month, state Rep. Terry England, a farmer by trade, made a pitch for a “fetal pain bill” that has become known as the “women and livestock bill” because of a bizarre speech in which he ventured from his experience in birthing pigs and delivering calves, to God and Jesus, to homespun homilies. He spoke of a conversation with a man from home about dogs and hog hunting and chicken (cock) fighting and how this exchange framed the abortion debate for him in a way nothing else had: “Mr. Terry, you tell those folks down there when they quit killing babies, they can have every chicken I’ve got,” Rep. England recalled the man saying. The lawmaker added, “If that don’t put it in perspective for you, your bread ain’t gonna rise and your eggs ain’t gonna cook.” Yes, this is the level of debate these days, and these are the people who are signing off on medical care for women, not bitches and cows and sows. We’ll paraphrase Rep. England for those who scoff at the notion of a war on human women: If this don’t put it in perspective for you, you ain’t gonna have many choices left on what to do with your eggs. Women of America, pay attention to these serious efforts to dehumanize you. Get engaged. Fight back. Vote. Your rallying cry: “Bovine no more!” PubDate: 04-05-2012 KY A10 THURSDAY APRIL 5, 2012 Zone: KY Edition: 1 Page Name: A 10 Color: Black Yellow Magenta Cyan COMMUNITY PAT OLIPHANT, UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE READERS’ FORUM Public transit? State Rep Jim Wayne deserves great credit for revealing just how underhanded has been the process employed by the “pushers” of the Ohio River Bridges Project, by revealing that the long-awaited financial plan to construct the two recommended new Ohio River bridges was sent to the Kentucky state legislature a mere two weeks before a vote. This reality did not allow the legislators any time to debate the many issues present in the financial plan. He asked in his March 30 op-ed, “Of tolls and trolls: Prevent injustice on bridges,” “What are the alternatives?” To Wayne's excellent questions, this writer would add an additional one. Why wasn't encouraging use of public transit in the form of TARC buses and TARCKIPDA van pools and car pools — by exempting these public sector, high-occupancy vehicles from paying tolls — not made part of the financial plan? In fact, many states mandate that a certain, very small percentage (about 0.05 percent) of toll revenues on bridges, must go to subsidize public transit. It was indeed as if the bridges project was planned by “wealthy white males” exclusively for the “country club” set without any consideration given to low-income cross-river commuters. The truth be told, there probably will be tolling. The best way to serve the cross-river travel needs of the working poor is not having a complex “means test” to exempt low-income motorists from tolls, but by subsidizing public transit — using a very small percentage of toll revenue to do so — and by exempting public-sector, high-occupancy vehicles from tolling. A GANNETT NEWSPAPER | FOUNDED 1826 Jean M. Porter, managing editor Read the editorials online: Informal car pools should also receive a discounted rate on the “bridges.” This toll revenue subsidy of TARC should also cover a “night owl” bus system that would function on a scheduled basis, from 10 p.m. to about 4 a.m., allowing low-income workers access to nighttime employment and recreation. DAVID EUGENE BLANK Louisville 40204 Naming names Congratulations and thanks to The Courier-Journal for printing Katrina vanden Heuvel’s April 1 column from The Washington Post. She not only describes our dilemma perfectly, she points the finger at who did it. She names names and identifies Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and especially Paul Ryan as people who would make it much worse if they get their way. Having sold their souls, they now claim that only they are fit to be our saviors. Thanks to the terrible decision by the Supreme Court that enabled unlimited corporate money to be used to purchase politicians, P. J. ORourke’s book Parliament of Whores is even truer now than when he wrote it. Trouble is, it isn’t funny anymore. CLAYTON SCHULZ Louisville 40220 Immoral policies Hooray for Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Washington Post for her article in the April1 Courier- Journal. She hit the nail right on the head. I can't understand why people don't see that the immorality of the GOP policies are worse than any of the Democrats’. I don't believe in abortion, but I do believe in contraception to prevent abortions. The GOP is committing one atrocity after another against the poor, the aged and the middle-class working Randi Austin, interim publisher Bennie L. Ivory, executive editor Keith L. Runyon, editor of Opinion Pages Stephen J. Ford, editor of Editorials Pam Platt, editorial writer people. How can cutting taxes for the rich be moral? I guess they think the health care law will cut into the profits of the insurance companies too much. Too bad. JOHN P. SCHMITT Louisville 40205 School closing In the age of corporate closings and home foreclosures, why does the Archdiocese of Louisville feel it has to get into the act? There is an excellent school in Shepherdsville, Ky.: St. Aloysius Gonzaga Academy. The staff and the parish were informed this week that the school will be closing after the current school year. This is is a bitter disappointment and a slap in the face to all of the staff, parishioners and volunteers who have worked so hard to stay open and maintain the school’s high standards. Over the years this school has turned out many great students and athletes. They have gone on to prove their worth at other institutions of learning and on to promising careers. Shouldn't the students there now be entitled to the same quality of learning and values? The Archdiocese preaches stewardship and helping others, so why is it turning its back on the only Catholic school in Bullitt County? It is not too late to reconsider this action. In other words, practice what you preach. MICHAEL GRAF Louisville 40229 HOW TO SUBMIT LETTERS Letters to the editor are welcomed. They should be addressed to: Readers’ Forum The Courier-Journal P.O. Box 740031 Louisville, Ky. 40201-7431 Our e-mail address is: Letters can also be faxed to us at: (502) 582-4155. Best-read letters are under 200 words and on topics of general interest. A letter must be original and contain the signature, address and daytime telephone number of its writer. The editors reserve the right to condense or reject any letter and to limit frequent writers. Letters to the editor, opinion and editorial columns, and articles submitted to The Courier-Journal may be distributed in print, electronic or other forms. Weighing the power to regulate indirect effects W hen a 1942 Supreme Court decision that most people never heard of makes the front page of the New York Times in 2012, you know that something unusual is going on. What makes that 1942 case — Wickard v. Filburn — important today is that it stretched the federal government’s power so far that the Obama administration is using it as an argument to claim before the Supreme Court that it has the legal authority to impose ObamaCare mandates on individuals. Roscoe Filburn was an Ohio farmer who grew some wheat to feed his family and some farm animals. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture fined him for growing more wheat than he was allowed to grow under the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, which was passed under Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce. Filburn pointed out that his wheat wasn’t sold, so that it didn’t enter any commerce, interstate or otherwise. Therefore the fed- Thomas Sowell eral government had no right to tell him how much wheat he grew on his own farm, and which never left his farm. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution says that all powers not explicitly given to the federal government belong to the states or to the people. So you might think that Filburn was right. But the Supreme Court said otherwise. Even though the wheat on Filburn’s farm never entered the market, just the fact that “it supplies a need of the man who grew it which would otherwise be reflected by purchases in the open market” meant that it affected interstate commerce. So did the fact that the home-grown wheat could potentially enter the market. The implications of this kind of reasoning reached far beyond farmers and wheat. Once it was established that the federal government could regulate not only interstate commerce itself, but anything with any potential effect on interstate commerce, the Tenth Amendment’s limitations on the powers of the federal government virtually disappeared. Over the years, “interstate commerce” became magic words to justify almost any expansion of the federal government’s power, in defiance of the Tenth Amendment. That is what the Obama administration is depending on to get the Supreme Court to uphold its power to tell people that they have to buy the particular health insurance specified by the federal government. There was consternation in 1995 when the Supreme Court ruled that carrying a gun near a school was not interstate commerce. That conclusion might seem like only common sense to most people, but it was a close 5-4 decision, and it sparked outrage when the phrase “interstate commerce” failed to work its magic in justifying an expansion of the federal government’s power. The 1995 case involved a federal law forbidding anyone from carrying a gun near a school. The states all had the right to pass such laws, and most did, but the issue was whether the federal government could pass such a law under its power to regulate interstate commerce. The underlying argument was similar to that in the 1942 case of Wickard v. Filburn: School violence can affect education, which can affect productivity, which can affect interstate commerce. Since virtually everything affects virtually everything else, however remotely, “interstate commerce” can justify virtually any expansion of government power, by this kind of sophistry. The principle that the legal authority to regulate X implies the authority to regulate anything that can affect X is a huge and dangerous leap of logic, in a world where all sorts of things have some effect on all sorts of other things. As an example, take a law that liberals, conservatives and everybody else would agree is valid — namely, that cars have to stop at red lights. Local governments certainly have the right to pass such laws and to punish those who disobey them. No doubt people who are tired or drowsy are more likely to run through a red light than people who are rested and alert. But does that mean that local governments should have the power to order people when to go to bed and when to get up, because their tiredness can have an effect on the likelihood of their driving through a red light? The power to regulate indirect effects is not a slippery slope. It is the disastrous loss of freedom that lies at the bottom of a slippery slope. Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif. He writes a column for Creators Syndicate.

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