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Posts published in “Day: March 10, 2016”

First take/court filings

More will of course be following on the state candidate filings that wrap up (in both Oregon and Idaho, as it happens) this week. But one in Idaho merits a specific mention.

It's not a partisan office: This one is for the Idaho Supreme Court, the seat now held by Justice Jim Jones.

(It's designated as seat 3, of five, and should be so noted on the ballot, but Idaho's ballots for generations have instead described the seats as those being held by the named incumbent, so you get things like "candidates John Smith and Ed Williams, for the seat now held by John Smith," which seems like an irrational favoritism toward the incumbent that we see nowhere on the ballot outside of the court system. The seats should be described as "Seat 3," or whatever.)

Jones was not appointed to the court; he got there in the way constitutional framers anticipated, by election, and was re-elected once. He is now completing a dozen years on the bench, a match to eight years as state attorney general back in the 80s. His decision, just announced, to not run again means the seat will again be filled by election, not appointment.

Two candidates have (as of this morning; the deadline is tomorrow) filed. One is Breck Seiniger, a well known Boise attorney long in private practice. The other, who probably has the edge, is a long-time deputy attorney general named Clive Strong.

That short-hand of Strong comes nowhere close to doing justice. He has for decades, working for attorneys general both Republican and Democratic, managed the natural resources division of the office, a critical place especially in recent decades. He has been a linchpin figure in so many critical areas for so long that many state officials almost consider him an essential resource. Last year, when I developed a ranked list of the most currently-influential Idahoans, I placed Strong at number 25. (I will admit to some bias, having worked with him on a couple of book projects, but check around Idaho state government and you'll probably soon find my take on him isn't unusual.)

Here's the neat thing about the Supreme Court filing. Back in 1983, not long after becoming AG, Jones hired Strong to work for him. Now there's the prospect that a Jones move, in this case his resignation, may allow for Strong's next role in influencing Idaho.

This looks to be the only contested Supreme Court race in Idaho this year. Keep an eye on it. - rs

Senators’ hypocrisy


There are two qualities a voter should never tolerate in their elected representatives: Hypocrisy; and, actions which show no respect for the intelligence of their constituents.

Idaho’s two U.S. Senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, possess both qualities in abundance.

Idaho’s two senators joined with their fellow Republican senators in announcing under no circumstances would they hold a hearing or even meet with any nominee President Barack Obama will submit to take the seat held for many years with distinction by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

They have wrapped this dereliction of duty in flowery language about letting the people decide in the November elections whether a Scalia replacement and several other expected vacancies in a new presidential term will be nominated by another Democrat or by a Republican.

It is a crass form of pure partisanship which has hamstrung Congress from doing much substantive work and has in part engendered the anger that is driving the candidacy of Donald Trump.

Recall, if you will, the pronouncement by then Minority but now Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the senior senator from Kentucky, who on the first day Barack Obama took office said the primary purpose of Republicans was to see that Obama would be a one term president. No honeymoon, no olive branch about working together to find the greatest good for the greatest number. No siree, the election of an African-American meant total and open warfare.

Make no mistake, either, that this attitude was and is a thinly disguised form of racism, pure and simple. So forget about the good of the public, forget about compromise and actually doing something to earn their paycheck.

A funny thing happened though on the way to the scaffold Senator McConnell and his colleagues were constructing for the President: be darned if he didn’t win a second term. Looking today at the field vying to succeed President Obama there’s little doubt he would win a third term except for that pesky thing called a Constitution an amendment to which limits a president to two consecutive terms.

It appears these Republican senators, many of whom say they are strict constructionists (Which means interpret the Constitution as it was meant at the time it was written and none of this making law by reinterpreting it in a modern context), don’t seem to grasp the difference between an active and passive verb.

Article II, Section 2 seems quite clear: “The President shall have Power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. . . .and he shall nominate and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint. . . .judges of the Supreme Court. . . .”

The Constitution says the President shall nominate justices and the Senate is to confirm or deny under its mandate “to advise and consent.” It doesn’t say “may,” and anyone who says the Senate can put off until a more convenient time politically to take up a nomination is guilty of a creative interpretation of the Senate’s responsibility that has no legal basis.

The Constitution also sets fixed terms for those elected to these offices and it is a given that they will do their duties for the full term.

The President will do his duty and will nominate a worthy candidate.
The Senate’s duty is to take up and give due consideration. To sit on a nomination for ten months is dereliction of duty, pure and simple, and senators advocating this dereliction ought in this writer’s opinion to be impeached and removed from office.

Stop and think for just a minute about what Senators Crapo and Risch are saying. If you follow their so called logic a senator like Mike Crapo would stop voting ten months before his term ends because it is a presidential election year and the voters might chose a Democrat for the Senate seat he holds and might even elect another Democrat as president.

It sounds stupid because it is stupid, just as stupid as the charade they are attempting to pull off.

It is crass hypocrisy, blatant partisanship, an abdication of their responsibilities, a dereliction of their duties and an insult to your intelligence.

If either of our senators had an ounce of courage or any backbone they’d tell their so-called Leader to take a hike and would say they know what their job calls them to do. Alas, they’ll as usual go along to get along because they know all they need next to their name on the ballot is the R and they’ll be returned to office regardless. Tis a pity.