Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on September 24, 1987 · Page 4
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 4

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Thursday, September 24, 1987
Page 4
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THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL OPINION THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24,1987 EDITORIAL A gem of a system A bipartisan group commissioned a Gallup Poll recently on public attitudes toward local, state and federal government, and the answers were clear-cut. Voters trust their local government the most and Washington the least, with the state government in between. Though the respondents probably didn't think of it that way, they were confirming that federalism is alive and well. The nation's founders took great care to preserve competing political entities within the United States. They granted certain powers to the federal government and reserved all other powers to the states or people. The states were expected to act as a check and balance on the central government laboratories for political, economic and social experimentation. If their experiments were ill-advised, as they often are, at least the damage would be limited. If they worked well, other states — and the federal government — could learn from them. States, in turn, grant certain powers to their political subdivisions, such as townships, cities and counties. This is mostly for administrative convenience, but it also encourages competition within the states themselves on taxes, schools and other matters. The "Federalist Papers," written to argue the case for adoption of the new Constitution, whose bicentennial we are now observing, reasoned that state and local politicians would be more trusted because they are closer to the people. The Gallup Poll, commissioned by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, found exactly that. Of the 1,044 Americans polled, 37 percent said they have the most trust in local government, 22 percent in state government and 19 percent in the federal government. Their view of taxes is consistent with that. Asked whether federal, state or local taxes were the least, 30 percent chose the federal income tax, 12 percent the state income tax and 24 percent the local property tax. Interestingly, unhappiness with the federal income tax actually declined seven percentage points since 1978, possibly a reflection of the tax cuts and reforms that have taken place during the 1980s. Americans like their government close to home, where they can keep an eye on it, though voters understand that government isn't to be greatly trusted in any case. When considering the checks and balances built into our constitutional system, we tend to think of the separation of powers within the federal government. We should also remember the crucial checks and balances built into the federal system as a • whole. It's a work of art and the public knows it. Almanac Today is Thursday, Sept. 24, the 267th day of 1987. There are 98 days left in the year. This is the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Today's Highlight in History: On Sept. 24,1789, Congress passed the First Judiciary Act, which provided for an Attorney General and a Supreme Court. On this date: In 1869, thousands of businessmen were ruined in a Wall Street panic after financiers Jay Gould and James Fisk attempted to comer the gold market. In 1896, author F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minn. In 1929, Lt. James H. Doolittle guided a Consolidated N-Y-2 Biplane over Mitchell Field in New York in the first all-instrument flight. In 1934, Babe Ruth made his farewell appearance as a regular baseball player with the New York Yankees in a game against the Boston Red Sox. (The Sox won, 5-0.) In 1941, nine Allied governments pledged adherence to the Atlantic Charter drafted by President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In 1955, President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while on vacation in Denver. In 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0. In 1960, the USS Enterprise, the first nuclear- powered aircraft carrier, was launched at Newport News, Va. In 1963, the Senate ratified a treaty with Britain and the Soviet Union limiting nuclear testing. LETTERS QEORQE WILL Demos contradictory on Bork WASHINGTON — Sen. Joseph Biden and others who believe that Robert Bork's opinions cause cavities also believe, with nice impartiality, contradictory ideas. To justify judicial policymaking that pleases them, they say the Constitution is "organic" and must "evolve" with the times. But when Bork suggests reconsidering some Supreme Court rulings, they say that the settled, indeed inviolable, Constitution is under attack. Furthermore, they locate Bork outside the "mainstream" of constitutional thought, saying his addition to the Court would result in radical decisions. But that means four radicals must already be on the bench. And that suggests that Biden's "mainstream" may be a minority persuasion. To understand who really are the extremists in this argument, consider this: If Hugo Black and John Harlan, two of the most revered modern justices, were nominated today, they could not pass through the needle's eye that Biden and others want the confirmation inquisition to be. The tenures of Justice Black (1937-71) and Harlan (1955-71) included the Warren years. Liberals especially admired Black, particularly for his libertarian First Amendment opinions. Conservatives praised Harlan's judicial restraint, meaning deference toward the representative branches of government. Bork's critics concentrate on his opinions concerning civil rights. But on these issues, the opinions of Black and Harlan are closer to Bork's than Biden's. Concerning civil rights, Bork's critics emphasize his criticism of the one-man, one-vote reapportionment rulings, his criticism of the Court's 1966 overturning of Virginia's $1.50 poll tax and his criticism of reverse discrimination as sanctioned by the Court's 1978 Bakke ruling. Regarding reapportionment (the Court s decision that legislative districts must be drawn with strict population equality), Bork says the ruling injects a political preference into the equal protection clause without "a single respectable supporting argument." Harlan thought likewise. Dissenting, Harlan said the Court relied on the "frail tautology" that equal protection means no deviation from numerical equality. He noted that the Fourteenth Amendment (containing the equal protection clause) would not have been ratified were it not for the understanding that it did not restrict the power of states to apportion as they pleased. Bork's criticism of the overturning of Virginia's poll tax is frequently represented as insensitivity to racial discrimination. Actually, there was no claim or evidence of race discrimination. The Court spoke of wealth discrimination. Bork says evidence of race discrimination would have justified the Court's decision. In the poll tax case, Black took Bork's position, charging that the Court, disregarding its two prior decisions affirming the constitutionality of the tax, used the Fourteenth Amendment as a "blank check to alter the Constitution's meaning" in order to "save the country from the original Constitution." Black thought the Court was jeopardizing "the concept of a written constitution." Harlan, too, dissented, saying the majority used "fiat" to degree that the equal protection clause required "unrestrained egalitarianism," just as an earlier Court had decreed that the clause imposed laissez-faire economic policy. In the Court's two prior rulings sustaining poll taxes, the Bork position was taken by, among other giants of American jurisprudence: Black, Felix Frankfurter, Robert Jackson, Charles Evans Hughes, Louis Brandeis, Harlan, Fiske Stone and Benjamin Cardozo. All these men are, presumably, banished from Biden's "mainstream." Regarding Bakke (reverse discrimination in university admissions), Bork said that the Court's ruling that "some, but not too much, reverse discrimination" is constitutional rests on no discernible princi- pie. Such criticism is hardly eccentric. Justice William Douglas had said, "Any state-sponsored preference to one race over another (in access to professions)" is unconstitutional. Professor (now Justice — Biden supported him) Scalia saw in Bakke a "trivialization of the Constitution." Regarding privacy, Bork criticized the Court's 1965 ruling declaring unconstitutional, as a violation of the "privacy right," a Connecticut law proscribing contraceptives. The Court said that althoUgh the Constitution makes no mention of a privacy right, it is a "penumbra" formed by "emanations" from other rights. Bork detested Connecticut's law, but considered the Court's ruling a mere reflection of the Court's dctestalion rather than the application of a constitutional principle. Black, dissenting in that case, took the same position. He said the Court was acting as "a day-to-day constitutional convention," as il did when it struck down legislation regulating commerce early in the century. Boric criticizes the 1973 abortion ruling (based on the "privacy right") not because he opposes legalized abortion (he does not), but because it is an "unjustifiable usurpation of legislative authority." Justice White, President Kennedy's only appointee, agrees. He dissented against the "improvident and extravagant exercise" of "raw judicial power" justified by "nothing" in the Constitution's "language or history." In 1976, Archibald Cox wrote that such jurists as Frankfurter and Learned Hand would have taken the Bork-White position. Cox says the Court's abortion ruling lacks the "legitimacy" that flows from a constitutional principle. I could fill this newspaper with other illustrations of the long, noble pedigree of Bork's constitutional thinking. Suffice it to say that Biden's doctrine — the doctrine that Bork's thinking is not merely disputable but disreputable and disqualifying — is intemperate. Thoughts for a president • To The Editor: . , If I were to run for President of these United States, I would come out crystal clear for: 1. Sitting down with the Russians, including a few 'just citizens' of the U.S.S.R. and addressing the arms problems, more trade and cultural exchanges, and staying with the major issues until they are • settled. 2. Pushing legislation to furnish employment to every man and woman in the U.S. who wished a job, utilizing both private sector and government. 3. Employing armed services in public projects which are not now being done, whatever the reasons. 4. Making certain the U.S. has the strongest armed forces in the world; the whole world knows . we do not attack without dire provocation, but we must be so strong that such provocation does not occur. 5. Establishing a national commission to study a national-type insurance for the health of every man, woman and child in the nation. 6. In the matter of absolute 'hard line* actions, cut off every nation that the U.S. consistently gives money to and those nations who are constantly criticizing us and stabbing us in the back. Heck, we're hated in some places throughout the world and money — as the old axiom goes — does not make for friends. 7. Utilizing the same formula we would use for Russia, sil down with Cuba and stay there until we have a good, consistent rclatioaship with our close neighbor nation. 8. Do not overlook Canada and Mexico; we're • just too close and too tightly tied to those nations — • we must get along, and well. 9. With creative economics and construction, ; make it possible for more Americans to own their • own homes. Henry Plymire Willits . Reagan, we can't afford it To The Editor: A recent article stressed headlines, "Medicare , premiums projected to rise." Mr. Reagan says the rising costs of the doctors' , bills is the cause. It is another of his concocted , excuses. He has been trying to get his greedy hands on the Social Security and Medicare funds for years. The doctors are not to blame; their hands arc tied with their raises in insurance. They are now told when to release patients by the government. Now , the state is trying to come in on the act. People, ; regardless of the seriousness of their illness, are told, "We can't help you any longer," and you arc turned out of the hospital. Mr. Reagan doesn't seem to think about the meager incomes of the Social Security recipients, and their little hospital insurance and doctor bills, besides their living and rent payments. A rise of that magnitude and what it would mean. Those benefits were set aside to take care of the aging and sick and there was a time when the doctor had Die say of how long the patient's hospital stay and medical services were to last. Now the government does all of that. Mr. Reagan belter move on over to the Middle East. We should write to pur congressmen, and tell them we can't afford it. Lew Haydon Ukiah Editorial Sampler Sept. 10 The New Jersey Herald, Newton, N.J., on the 1990 census: A quarter-billion Americans are expected to be counted in the 1990 census. But if the Office of Management and Budget has its way, the country will learn much less about itself that it has become used to finding out every 10 years, and less than it needs to know. With appalling shortsightedness, the OMB has directed An oustanding article To The Editor: I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Dave Curl (Sports Journalist) on an outstanding article on the Willits High School football game against South Fork High School. It was refreshing to read a well documented article staling not only the "stars" of the game but every player's name who did actually contribute. Hats off to Mr. Curl for keeping all of Willits informed of our local team. Keep up the good work. Thank you. Don C. Carey Willits that about 3U questions be trimmed from the long form. ... The nation cannot afford to cut back on a basic source of information, especially not for reasons of inconvenience. Letter policy The Journal welcomes lelters from pur readers. However, we reserve the right not to print those letters we consider may be libclous, in bad taste or a personal attack. Letters must not exceed 300 words in lenght and should be typed and double-spaced. All lelters must be signed and include an address and phone number for verification. Anonymous lei ters will not be printed. Addresses will not be printed, but the writer's name will appear. Because of the volume of letters received, some letters may be edited because of space requirements Ukiah Daily "Journal •^ ttortdocmo county, Cahforn ttortdocmo county, Donald W. Reynolds, Chairman of the Board Thomas W. Reeves, General Manager John An*at*sio Managing Editor DeniaeHall Bruce Schltbaugh Advertiung Director Victor Martinet Eddie Sequeira Display Advertising Manager Yvonne Bell Claire Booker Circulation Manager /{_"5; Member Audit Bureau of Circulations LOCALLY OPERATED MEMBER DONKEY MEDIA GROUP Composing Sufierviaor frwa Supervuor Officer Manager —DOONESBURY BUTINBP fKANKMSIK.imiNK THATBOW! IHAV& now is AU,TH& expenses-^ IT! \ YOU'VE 60NZ? tUHATW WMgMI WBOPfc 60N&? OUKWtV, 1H&2S SHQKTAGt. ITCOUtPHAVe IOCALVOOKV-

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