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Monday, September 26, 2022

Don Walton: U.S. Supreme Court appears to be on trial now | Regional Government

In the wake of the political maneuvering primarily managed by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell that dramatically changed the U.S. Supreme Court, leading to recent rulings that have smashed or ignored court precedent, the court itself appears to be on trial now. 

Not a good place for the nation’s highest court, or us, to be. 

The June decision ending Roe v. Wade abortion rights was a dramatic example of abruptly overturning precedent and it came after some members of Congress believe they were lied to or misled by answers they heard from the two most recent Supreme Court nominees during their Senate confirmation hearings.

One justice has publicly taken notice of it. 

“Judges create legitimacy problems for themselves … when it looks like they’re an extension of the political process or when they’re imposing their own personal preferences,” Justice Elena Kagan warned in an address in New York City.

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Kagan pointed primarily to the reversal of Roe v. Wade precedent on abortion rights.

I sometimes recall what a leading Nebraska Republican once told me in the early months of the Trump administration as the new president began to assume power: Give Republican members of Congress judges and tax cuts and then you can do anything you want. 

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The pomp and pageantry of ceremonies honoring Queen Elizabeth II has been compelling. 

And it shines a spotlight on a unifying cord in the United Kingdom, a bond that we do not to have within our own country. 

The queen was a figure uniformly admired by nearly all her countrymen and women; we do not have such a figure.

Abraham Lincoln attempted to summon unity in 1861 with a plea to the “better angels of our nature” in advance of the civil war — and they were not to be found or heeded.

And now a substantial swath of the American electorate already has made it clear that they do not accept the results of the 2020 presidential election and will not accept the results of the next presidential election if their candidate does not win.  

“We are not enemies, but friends,” Lincoln said a century and a half ago. 

“We must not be enemies.”

And then came the civil war.

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Metropolitan Omaha’s 2nd District House seat is up for grabs once again.

It’s always a battleground and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee counts that district as one of four seats that Democrats are “most hopeful about flipping” from Republican hands in November, according to a recent story in Politico.

State Sen. Tony Vargas is the Democratic challenger to three-term Republican Rep. Don Bacon in a district whose boundaries have been changed by 2021 redistricting.

Meanwhile, redistricting and perhaps especially the U.S. Supreme Court decision ending Roe v Wade abortion rights have created what appears to potentially be a second competitive congressional district in Nebraska.

A reminder of the results of the June 28 special election in the 1st District:  state Sen. Mike Flood, 61,017; state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, 54,783.

With these polar-opposite results within Lincoln-Lancaster County: Pansing Brooks, 41,104; Flood, 31,054.

Extraordinary voter turnout in Lincoln in November appears to be key for Pansing Brooks, the Democratic challenger, in a rematch with Flood, now eastern Nebraska’s Republican congressman whose party affiliation and incumbency gives him the upper hand. 

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* David Wright of Ewing, a conservative Republican who supports a proposed consumption tax, fell short last week in his effort to acquire sufficient signatures to win access to the general election ballot as a non-partisan candidate for governor.

* Upon his return to Nebraska from a congressional trip to the Mexican border in Arizona, Flood said he supports immigration reform “that puts working Americans first.”  Flood said he “will never support amnesty, voting rights, taxpayer-funded benefits or a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

* Pansing Brooks says “it’s time to enact common-sense gun laws,” including mandating background checks and red-flag laws that allow a judge to take away someone’s gun based on reasonable suspicion that he or she may use it to harm themselves or others. 

* Process this if you can; I cannot: There probably are at least 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy and at least 100 billion galaxies in the universe. And light from some stars we see may have taken more than 13 billion years to reach us. Mindblower.

* After Saturday’s stomping by Oklahoma, chatter about Husker football on Twitter and Facebook has moved from critical to toxic — with no more attention on one-score losses.   

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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