Thursday Roundup: Elites and the Court

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Carroll County, Iowa, newspaperman Doug Burns wonders why presidents don’t consider geography when they appoint Supreme Court justices. Burns asked President Obama in August if it is “right to have the nation’s final-say panel populated exclusively by urbanites who see land and environmental issues from an outside observer’s perspective?” 

Burns sees the Court as isolated and elitist, and he has an ally in…Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In a recent article on Thomas in The New Yorker magazine, we were struck by Thomas’s critique of who becomes a Supreme Court Justice. He makes Burns’s argument quite strongly:

“We talk about diversity. The real problem of our Court is that it’s all Ivy League,” Thomas said. Currently, all nine Justices attended law school at either Harvard or Yale. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there are other law schools out there,” he said. Alone among his colleagues, Thomas usually selects at least some of his law clerks from less prominent schools. In recent years, his clerks have included graduates of the law schools of Creighton University, in Nebraska; Rutgers; George Mason; and the University of Utah.

“I grew up with maids, and janitors, and yard people,” he told the students at Stetson. “It gives you a perspective on society. You’re looking from the bottom up, and how people see it from that direction. . . . You understand why people are angry or upset. You understand why they become rich soil for class envy and class hatred, or class warfare. You see how they become easy pickings for people who have snake-oil merchants for solving all their problems. But you develop a respect for them without condescension. You develop an attitude that we are all inherently equal regardless of who went to school and who did not—that there can be smart people who did not have any book learning and never had a chance.”

Thomas continued, “There’s a difference between being poor and being stupid. And you’re stupid for thinking that they’re stupid. As my granddaddy would say, you’re just an educated fool. . . . I am passionate about preserving liberty so that people can rise from that to go to the Supreme Court.” 

• Adair County, Kentucky, native and Medal of Honor winner Dakota Meyer had a beer with President Obama Wednesday evening on the patio outside the Oval Office.

Meyer’s bravery is credited with saving the lives of 13 Marines and 23 Afghan soldiers in a September 8, 2009, firefight in northeastern Afghanistan. 

Meyer is the first living Marine to receive the nation’s highest honor in nearly four decades.

•The “Friends of Coal” are the “signature sponsor” of this week’s football game between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. Friends of Coal is an offshoot of the Kentucky Coal Association, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The $85,000 sponsorship (which includes three events) will include billboards and video clips on the scoreboard. “This allows us to communicate directly with everyone in the stands factual information about Kentucky coal,” said the president of the Kentucky Coal Association. 

The Kentucky Coal Association has maintained that the Obama administration is engaged in a “war on coal.”

• Six years ago, California became the first state to adopt rules requiring regular shade, water and rest for people working outdoors. Enforcement of the rules on farms is spotty, the Los Angeles Times reports

• Some environmentalists are against subsidizing flights into rural airports that are within 150 miles of larger facilities. They say that running a bus between these towns and the larger airports would not only be cheaper, it would be less polluting. 

• DTN’s Chris Clayton writes that ag groups are supporting a moratorium on new federal regulations. 

Everything would come under these kinds of strictures, from regulations on dust to new rules governing the livestock markets. Then, again, there are some regulations ag groups want, such as tighter restrictions on market speculators. 

• A reminder from the Helena Independent-Record that the post office is more than a place to get mail:

“It’s just our little community center, and if we didn’t have this, I would be screwed,” said Lois Black (in the Avon, Montana, post office).

For her and other people using the 103 mailboxes in the post office, it’s about visiting with Lynn Price, Avon’s postal officer-in-charge, scanning the notices on the bulletin board, and finding out everything they need to know about what’s happening.

It’s where kids meet the school bus. The bulletin board has a note advertising “weiner pigs” for $65, among other local products, services and events. While chatting with customers — she seems to know them all by name — Price takes a call from a local resident reporting loose dogs and cattle. 

• Nebraska legislators are considering a program adopted in Kansas to attract new residents to rural communities losing population. The Kansas program waives state income taxes for up to five years, among other incentives, if a person moves into one of the designated counties from out of state.

• The Huffington Post has a long story about Kentucky coal miner Charles Scott Howard and his fight for safer mines. 

 

 

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