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Letters to the Editor

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  • | 4:00 a.m. October 31, 2012
  • Longboat Key
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+ In need of clarification
Dear Editor:

Please clarify the basis for your recommendation (Oct. 25, page 9A) to vote “no” on the three Supreme Court justices seeking retention.

You cite, apparently with approval, Major Harding’s position that “merit-retention votes for judges are not intended to be votes on judges’ decisions.” Yet, you then recommend a “no” vote because Justices Quince, Lewis and Pariente decided three cases in ways other than you would have decided them: Gore v. Harris, school vouchers and Obamacare.

Decisions with which you do not agree are not proof of “judicial and behavioral improprieties.” Thus, your recommendation reflects, at best, careless and self-contradictory reasoning. Your readers, and the justices, deserve better.
Joseph Bartel

Editors Note: Sorry for the confusion. The whole merit-retention vote for judges is a seriously flawed process, in large part because most Floridians have no clue on what they are voting — the judges’ decisions or their ethical conduct? Harding says it’s a vote on ethical conduct. Yet, Jesse Phillips of Restore Justice 2012, a Central Florida group opposed to retaining the three Supreme Court justices, told a reporter for The James Madison Institute that, “Justice Quince said it best, ‘We have a merit retention system to determine if justices are doing their jobs.’” According to the institute’s fall edition journal: “Phillips contends that the only way to tell whether they are doing their jobs is to ‘look at their decisions; are they living up to the Constitution?’” We support the type of judicial decision making that emphasizes judicial restraint and fidelity to the original meaning of constitutional text, not that style that makes inferences and is regarded as judicial activism — judges making laws. In our view, Justices Quince, Lewis and Pariente’s decisions too often fit the latter.

+ Series is helpful
Dear Editor:

Kudos and many thanks to The Observer for the excellent series and general coverage on ballot items for the Nov. 6 general election. Your amendment-by-amendment opinion series was especially helpful. I happen to agree with your recommendations and expressed logic for all but Amendment 6 — I felt that your analysis, and your stated principles for amendments in general, didn’t support your conclusion and recommendation on that particular amendment. Even there, however, your analysis was, as with all the others, very useful in reaching my own voting decision. As we might say or signal in the Navy: BRAVO ZULU!

Your critical jabs at the absurdity of much of the amendment language — and all the legalistic garbage built up in laws by the legislatures over the years — were also not only spot-on (res ipsa loquitur for sure!), but reminded me of my days as a government student at The American University in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1960s. 

In one state and local government course I took, we examined various state constitutions and had many laughs over who could find the most useless and ridiculous “statutory” language in those documents.

At the time, I believe the Louisiana Constitution won first prize for the most absurd — my favorite being its constitutional provisions governing the number, sizes and types of manhole covers applicable (only) in the city of New Orleans!

So how about an Observer piece on when we can expect Florida Constitution referenda on roundabouts and parking meters in Sarasota?
Dan Knauf

+ Endorsements don’t support best interests
Dear Editor:

After coming south to enjoy our winter respite, it was always a pleasure to pick up a copy of the Pelican Press to catch up on local activities. However, to may utter dismay, I read your dismal and totally ludicrous diatribe on the “War on Individual Liberty” and how in the last four years it has intensified.

What planet have you been on?

Having spent the last 15 months watching, listening and reading about the Republican candidates wanting to lead this country, I am convinced that any victory by these folks pushes us back into the Stone Age.

Do you really subscribe to having government tell women what they can or cannot do with their bodies? Do you want a government kowtowing to religious interference? What is happening to the separation of church and state that our forefathers fought for and used as a cornerstone of the Constitution? Do you want a political and social ideology that is suspicious of minority groups and creates hurdles for their legitimate right to vote? Why are the Republicans of this world denying an individual’s right to the same legal and civil protection for their chosen partner in life if they are the same sex? Do you really subscribe to policies that a for-profit company can do whatever it wants to our environmental resources?

These are examples of the “War on Individual Liberty” that I believe are under attack. I don’t believe for a moment that the representatives that you recommend to support truly have the best interests of society as a whole in their hearts and minds. The 1% or 53%, yes, but not the totality of what is USA.
Peter Dadzis


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