6A OPINION FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2016 | WEST HAWAII TODAY WASHINGTON — President Obama, in nominating Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, appears to be laboring under a misapprehension that the confirmation process is on the level. “I hope they’re fair. That’s all: I hope they are fair,” Obama said Wednesday morning in the Rose Garden, with the nominee at his side. He said he would “simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing and then an up-or-down vote.” In hopes of eliciting this elusive fairness, Obama chose an accomplished and anodyne jurist who has been hailed by conservatives and is less liberal than progressive activists wanted. This well-intentioned gesture rests on the assumption Senate Republicans will back down from their insistence that no Obama nominee will get a hearing. But Republicans did not reciprocate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, immediately reiterated their opposition to holding hearings. In that sense, they are giving Garland, the chief judge of the second-most-powerful court in the land, exactly as much consideration they would give if Obama had nominated Michael Moore. In his introduction of Garland, Obama quoted past praise for the nominee by Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the longest-serving Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Hatch supported Garland’s nomination to the circuit court two decades ago. He has since said that Garland would be a “consensus nominee” to the high court and that there’s “no question” he would be confirmed. Just last week, Hatch predicted Obama wouldn’t nominate Garland, because he’s too moderate. But minutes after Obama nominated Garland, Hatch told reporters that he would continue opposing consideration of any nominee until after the election. And McConnell said Obama “made this nomination not LETTERS | YOUR VOICE Next president should decide justice “We the People” should get the chance to decide the type of justice we want at the Supreme Court through the next presidential election. The balance of power between the branches has been eroded under President Obama, and allowing him to appoint a third Supreme Court justice will further exacerbate the problem. The main issue is one of judicial philosophy. Justice Scalia was a strong proponent of adherence to the text of the Constitution. In that sense, he was willing to apply the sort of judicial restraint envisioned by our Founding Fathers on matters that fall outside the scope of the U.S. Constitution. But the dangerous judicial philosophy of the liberal side of the court, which believes the Constitution is a “living, breathing” document, allows judges to manipulate the Constitution to accommodate for the flimsy whims of our rapidly changing culture. These sorts of justices see themselves as the agents of cultural change and not as officers of the law. A “living, breathing” Constitution is no constitution at all. Scalia himself warned about the Supreme Court acting as a “super legislature,” invalidating the votes of millions of Americans through judicial fiat. Senators who stand against rushing to confirm another Obama nominee, favoring the vote of the people as they select a new president in just a few short months, are actually living up to the highest standard of that sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barbara J. Ferraro State director, Concerned Women for America of Hawaii — Hilo Reef learning a wonderful experience What a delightful day it was on Monday at Kahaluu beach when the students of Tina Benson came to study and map out their findings of the sea level rising. The students had to get up early to get the bus from Waimea to Kona so many came with their jackets as Waimea is a lot cooler than the beach on Kona. The teachers and volunteers helped cone off the areas to be mapped and the teacher measured the distance from the shore and roped off the area in meters. The students were asked to write down what could be found within the grid area. They then began to draw in lines on their maps as to where the sea level would be in 2025, 2060, and in 2100. They all were in agreement that everything as we now know it would be under the water. It was not only a great way for the students to get a hands on experience on sight but also to learn how the changes in sea level will affect everything. All those expensive homes down along the shoreline will soon become unsellable as the ones on the north shore of Oahu which have already been taken back by the sea. It’s unfortunate that more of the schools in the Kona area weren’t able to partake in this wonderful learning experience. Colleen Miyose-Wallis Reef Teach volunteer at Kahaluu beach Rules need to be enforced FAA regulations expressly prohibit ultralight aircraft flights over congested areas. Despite this, ultralights continue to fly over Kona, too low and slow to recover from a potentially fatal stall/spin/crash. Ultralights have a very poor safety record as evidenced by the fatal crash at Kealakekua Bay several years ago. Complaints sent to the FAA and Sen. Brian Schatz are apparently ignored. Must some pedestrian on Alii Drive be killed by a crashing ultralight in order to induce the FAA to enforce the safety regulations? Michael K. Sylmond Kailua-Kona DANA MILBANK | WASHINGTON POST Nominee inspires shrugs on all sides CONSTITUTIONAL CORNER | MIKIE KERR Agreeing on Constitution took extensive debate The first government of the United States was formed in 1781 under The Articles of Confederation after the 13 colonies won independence from England, but the colonies were a hodgepodge of disparate interests. Each state had the power to collect taxes, issue currency and raise a militia, but there was no mechanism to compel the states to honor national obligations. There were huge debts after the Revolutionary War and no way to pay them. Though based on the principles fought for in the American Revolution, The Articles formed a weak centralized government and contained flaws. There were disputes over borders. There were no executive or judicial branches and there was great fear after gaining freedom from England that any central government would be like going from the frying pan to the kettle. States were adamant in protecting their individuality but were asked to enter into this agreement (The Articles) for “their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare.” Over time, however, the lack of a strong central government with no power to tax, no ability to regulate interstate commerce, and 13 colonies operating somewhat like individual countries, it became more and more evident that a stronger central (federal) government was needed in order to remain stable and to unite the states, giving rise to the U.S. Constitution. During the Constitutional Convention issues hammered out by the delegates (who became known as the “Framers”) in Philadelphia in 1787 addressed the defects of the Articles by establishing a system of government where the federal government was supreme. There were 55 delegates from all states expect Rhode Island, which basically boycotted the convention fearing too much interfering from an overpowerful federal government would cut into their economic business. After all, hadn’t the American colonies recently won independence from the overbearing King George of England? George Washington was elected to preside over the convention. The meetings where the haggling, arguments and debates took place were held in secret so as to avoid outside pressures. However detailed notes and accounts were kept during the entire process. James Madison, though not the secretary of the convention, kept journals and collected speeches made by other delegates making numerous insertions and deletions from other accounts of the proceedings. Today Madison’s notes remain the most thorough account of the debates and deliberations and have became valuable historical documents. Many people during the ratification process opposed the Constitution for the same reason Rhode Island boycotted the convention, fear that federal officials would abuse the powers being granted under the Constitution. The Constitution may likely never have been adopted were it not for the promise of the Bill of Rights for the very purpose of protecting the rights of the individual and limiting the power of the federal government. Mikie Kerr is the founder of a volunteer group which distributes free pocket Constitutions by partnering with small businesses on the island who make them available to their customers and clients. She lives in Waikoloa and writes a monthly column for West Hawaii Today. Tell us about it Do you have a story idea or news tip? Is there a community problem that has not been addressed? Do you know someone unique, whose story should be shared and enjoyed with the rest of the community? We want to know. Call the West Hawaii Today newsroom at 930- 8600 or email@example.com and share the information with our readers. It’s our community — and we care. Letters policy Letters to the editor should be 300 words or less and will be edited for style and grammar. Longer viewpoint guest columns may not exceed 800 words. Email or address letters to: EDITOR WEST HAWAII TODAY PO BOX 789 KAILUA-KONA HI 96745 EMAIL: LETTERS@WESTHAWAIITODAY.COM with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed but in order to politicize for purposes of the election.” Obama had done just the opposite: He picked an old white guy whose centrist views do not excite the Democratic base — an olive branch to conservatives in (vain) hopes that they would relax their lock-step objections. In the process, he antagonized allies on the left, raising the possibility that Democrats won’t get a political benefit from the standoff, and that Obama still won’t get his nominee confirmed. Charles Chamberlain, head of the liberal group Democracy for America, said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointing” that Obama “put forward a nominee seemingly designed to appease intransigent Republicans rather than inspire the grassroots he’ll need to get that nominee through the Senate.” National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill called the nomination “unfortunate,” saying “the so-called political experts ruled that the best choice for the highest court in the nation was a cipher — a real nowhere man.” It was a perfect-like morning in the Rose Garden — the saucer magnolia trees in full bloom, and the tulips pushing up. Obama spoke righteously about how he “set aside short-term expediency and narrow politics” in hopes of getting above the “squabbling” of the news cycle. “At a time when norms and customs of political rhetoric and courtesy and comity are so often treated like they are disposable, this is precisely the time when we should play it straight” with the court, he said. Obama strained the thesaurus to describe Garland as reasonable, praising his “decency, modesty, integrity, evenhandedness,” agreeableness and “civicmindedness.” He called Garland “by the book,” “thoughtful, fair-minded,” a man “who just about everyone not only respects but genuinely likes.” Garland stood with his hands clasped in front of him. He amplified Obama’s contention that he’s no ideologue. “People must be confident that a judge’s decisions are determined by the law and only the law,” he said. A judge “must put aside his personal views or preferences and follow the law — not make it.” That’s as it should be, and if Garland were on the court, he would no doubt be a force for consensus. But right now he, and Obama, must contend with Senate Republicans who are unmoved and liberal activists who are uninspired. The White House assembled the usual suspects for its Garland rollout. Walking into the White House on Wednesday, I saw Democratic strategists Donna Brazile and Stephanie Cutter and liberal activist Nan Aron. On my way out, I saw Planned Parenthood chief Cecile Richards. In the Rose Garden were Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and several House liberals. The crowd was quiet for most of the announcement. When Garland finished, they rose, gradually, and applauded politely. Toward the back, one invitee looked at another and gave a shrug that captured the reaction: Whatever. Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, Milbank.
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