Inside Opinion

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Tag: U.S. Supreme Court

June
26th

A giant step forward on the path to marriage equality

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The words “landmark” and “historic” get tossed around a lot after a U.S. Supreme Court decision comes out. Wednesday’s 5-4 ruling overturning a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act genuinely deserves those labels.

It signals what anyone who was really paying attention already sensed: That the nation is moving, slowly but inexorably, toward full marriage equality. And Washington state, the first one where citizens voted to make same-sex marriage legal, helped lead the way.

On top of polls showing a majority of Americans now support marriage equality, the fact

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June
24th

Campus ‘diversity’ does not equal affirmative action

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Race-conscious college admissions survived a near miss in the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

The court might have forbidden the University of Texas from giving any consideration whatsoever to race in attempting to create a diverse student body.

That would have would shaken the world of higher education, which has gotten the once-precise concept of affirmative action entangled with the vaguer agenda of ethnic diversity.

Instead, the justices decided the case on narrow procedural grounds, scolding two lower courts for not taking a harder look at whether the UT might be using race to unfairly exclude applicants. The young woman who’d argued she’d been shut out because she was white won the right to put the UT on trial – but the Supreme Court didn’t overturn past rulings that schools can use race to assemble a medley of students.

This discussion needs more honesty. The honesty would begin by acknowledging that the term “diversity” is often used as a proxy for affirmative action, because the latter term seems to be falling out of fashion. But affirmative action would be a stronger foundation for any kind of race-based consideration.

Affirmative action has a straightforward goal: helping clearly disadvantaged students who’ve historically been frozen out of the economic mainstream.

It also implies real metrics. For example, if white men are earning college degrees at twice the rate of black men, we know there’s something amiss. Knowing that, we can look for causes and remedies. One of those remedies might be extra help qualifying for college, not necessarily extra points from the admissions office.

Love affirmative action or hate it, it has the virtue of clarity.
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June
5th

Try again for DNA collection after arrest

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a Maryland DNA case should give new life to efforts that died last year in the Legislature.

Those efforts held promise for solving serious cold cases and for exonerating people who may have been wrongfully convicted of crimes.

As a House member in 2012, state Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, sponsored a bill that would have required collection of DNA samples from persons arrested for major felonies and two gross misdemeanors (stalking and violating a protection order). State law already allows for DNA collection upon conviction or

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Jan.
13th

Super PACs ratcheting up heat in 2012 campaign

This editorial appears in Friday’s print edition.

Mix unlimited campaign donations with the very weakest pinch of disclosure. Throw into an overheated primary season and what happens?

One need only look at all the attack ads in Iowa and New Hampshire paid for by the so-called super PACs supporting Republican candidates – groups with such names as Restore Our Future (Mitt Romney), Winning Our Future (Newt Gingrich) and the Revolution PAC (Ron Paul). Waiting in the wings: The already well-larded Priorities USA Action super PAC supporting President Barack Obama’s re-election and the prospect of super PACs trying to influence congressional races as well. Read more »

Jan.
4th

Campaign rulings in line with U.S. Supreme Court thinking

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Campaign-finance rulings by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week are good news for proponents of disclosure, bad news for those concerned about the influence of big money in elections.

Both are, however, in line with recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court has been supportive of campaign disclosure  – most recently in a Washington state case. Gay-rights opponents sought to keep secret the names of those who signed petitions for Referendum 71, a ballot measure that would have overturned domestic partnerships. But the high court said the state law requiring disclosure was constitutional.
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July
2nd

A 12-year-old’s right to video violence?

The people at the San Jose Mercury News, in an otherwise sensible editorial, offered this stock inanity to moms and dads alarmed about their kids’ access to shockingly violent video games:

The industry’s voluntary rating system, according to the Federal Trade Commission, does a decent job keeping games rated “Mature” and “Adults Only” from being sold to minors. And where it fails, parents still can pull out that time-tested technique: the word no.

Those parents would include the exhausted single mothers who hold down two jobs and have no idea 8-year-old Jimmy is torturing women on screen in his abundant spare time?

The parents who don’t give a damn that their kids have discovered great sport in virtual massacres? The parents who never played a video game and never bothered to find out what transpires in the likes of Grand Theft Auto?
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July
4th

GOP resistance is futile: Confirm Elena Kagan

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Here’s a nightmare scenario for Democrats: What if Elena Kagan is telling the truth?

In last week’s Senate hearings, President Obama’s soon-to-be-confirmed Supreme Court nominee testified she’s about the law, the whole law and nothing but the law. She may be a “progressive” Democrat, but she’ll be “on nobody’s team” once she dons the black robe.

Heaven forbid that she would bring any preferred outcomes to a case.

“I mean, the worst kind of thing you can say of a judge is he or she is results-oriented,” she told the Judiciary Committee. “It suggests that a judge is kind of picking sides irrespective of what the law requires. …

“The judge should be trying to figure out as best she can what the law requires and not going in and saying, ‘You know, I don’t really care about the law, you know, this side should win.’”

How can anyone quarrel with that? For that matter, how can any Republican quarrel with a nominee whose distinguished legal career includes no time as an actual judge and thus no paper trail of decisions that can confidently be attributed to her own judicial philosophy?
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June
28th

Here’s something to like about Elena Kagan

A lot of pundits are saying that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is something of a cipher, that there’s not much on the record about her to give an idea of how she’d vote if she wins Senate confirmation and what her priorities would be on the bench.

That may be so, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, I think the record speaks volumes about what isn’t a priority for her: fashion.

While looking in our photo archives to find a shot to run with Tuesday’s George Will column, I noticed that Kagan

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