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Letters to the Editor: Stay focused on what matters

| April 14, 2022 12:15 AM

Stay focused on what matters

What do most people expect from government? General infrastructure, public education, elder security, defense, emergency services, trade regulation, certain labor and economic rules? All people want to drive on good roads, have good jobs, breathe fresh air, live in safe neighborhoods and have access to affordable goods and services. It’s not unreasonable that our public officials would be concerned with these issues — they have the most effect on our lives (i.e. health, safety, and well-being) and require most of our elected leaders’ attention. However, the issues dominating the atmosphere on the Right side of American politics are ones which have little consequence on how most of us live our lives.

How does the mere idea of CRT affect our lives? How does a person expressing their identity affect our lives? How does “cancel culture” affect our lives? The God’s honest truth is that they don’t — at all. These are non-issues blown out of proportion to stoke fear and cement support for conservative candidates. Don’t let these individuals scare you into supporting them with these exaggerated and manufactured concepts. It is not they who we need in government, but liberal candidates who actually deliver on the things that matter, like infrastructure, economic equality, voting and civil rights, environmental protection, agriculture—liberals get things done!

— David Salet, Arlee

What’s wrong with this scene?

Daphne (who always carries mace) and Fred (with his permit-to-carry strapped on) are out for a walk. They see a big man with a huge club mercilessly beating a small fellow who is defending himself with a twig.

Horrified, Daphne says, “Fred, this is terrible. We have to do something! Quick — write a check to WAIT — The Worried Association of Intentional Timidity.”

The big bully now pulls out a knife and is stabbing the smaller man plus others. Daphne excitedly yells, “Hurry, Fred, they need help RIGHT NOW — throw him a bigger twig.”

Waking on, Daphne says, “Well, we did all we could.”

— Gene Johnson, Polson

Diversity on the bench

We expect a great deal from our U.S. Supreme Court — that justices apply the law rigorously, but with a broad understanding of what their decisions mean to individuals and society. It is the need for this broad, wise understanding that makes diversity on the bench so important. None of us, however intelligent and well-educated, can see all sides of an issue.

As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, said about her colleague, Thurgood Marshall (the first African American on the Court): “Occa­sion­ally, at Confer­ence meet­ings, I still catch myself look­ing expect­antly for his raised brow and his twink­ling eye, hoping to hear, just once more, another story that would, by and by, perhaps change the way I see the world.”

We also tend to think of the law as a set of rules that can be applied impartially. This is the goal, but there are many situations in which understanding of the world views and immediate problems of defendants can lead to the sort of decisions that benefit individuals and society. We need diversity in judicial experience — backgrounds other than prosecution, and educational backgrounds that are other than Ivy League.

We also need to consider that, as Justice Brown Jackson states: "The judicial branch … is the protection of the rule of law, which can only be done by the consent of the governed. It can only be done if people in our society believe, decide and agree that they're going to follow what it is that courts decide. And so one of the reasons why having a diverse judicial branch is important is because it lends and bolsters public confidence in our system.”

We, of course, need this diversity in national AND state supreme courts. Let your representatives know.

— Gail Trenfield, St. Ignatius