An open letter to Justice Anthony Kennedy: You once indicated you would not retire from the U.S. Supreme Court while Donald Trump was president, but now, you have done exactly that.
Why have you sold out America and the good and decent things it once stood for?
Don’t you realize your legacy now will be every sordid, evil and inhumane action Mr. Trump will take once his hand-picked replacement for you is seated?
If this is what you wanted for your legacy, you’ve got it — but so do millions of Americans like me who will now remember you not as a once-invaluable and essential swing voter on some of the most critical and contentious issues ever to face our highest court, but as a sellout of the American people of the worst order.
Willard B. Shapira, Roseville
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The black president’s nomination was stolen. It makes this moment, which I have dreaded for decades, worse — the moment when there will likely be enough hard-liners on the U.S. Supreme Court to take away my right as a woman: my right to an abortion. The fact that it comes after a Republican leadership held open the nomination for an unprecedented year makes it bitterer. This particular court has also ruled against privacy, unions, voting rights and the GLBTQ community.
The argument was made when the last Supreme Court justice position became open that the people needed to speak through an election. A year went by. We are less than six months from another election whose winners will directly vote on the Supreme Court candidate. Wait for the fall election before taking our rights away.
Sheri Smith, St. Paul
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Now that we know that Justice Kennedy intends to resign, I think both Democrats and Republicans should concentrate on voting in a thoughtful, competent successor. I don’t agree on Justice Neil Gorsuch’s philosophy, but he seems to be a thoughtful, competent judge. The next justice will also no doubt be conservative. Too many of Trump’s picks for Cabinet have shown themselves to be incompetent. My biggest fear is that a nominally competent or incompetent person will be put forward as candidate by Trump. Congress should focus on the ability of the candidate to do the work of a Supreme Court justice and to think through all sides of our complex laws. This should come before political philosophy.
Margaret A. Wood, Bloomington
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Regarding the announcement of Kennedy’s retirement, many on the left have sounded the alarm that landmark Supreme Court decisions like Roe vs. Wade and Obergefell vs. Hodges will be overturned once Kennedy’s successor assumes the bench. The Supreme Court has rarely overturned precedent based on legal principles in its more than 200-year history — most notably, Justice Neil Gorsuch stressed the importance of precedents in deciding cases. The left should not be afraid of those two cases being overturned, because Gorsuch would position himself between the case and precedent, maintaining the original ruling.
Nathan Dull, Minnetonka
What my decades of experience in labor relations have shown
It is time to put the U.S. Supreme Court decision on public employee payment of union dues in perspective. An “open shop” (the right for employees to voluntarily pay dues and join their union or not) under the National Labor Relations Act has been a mandatory subject of collective bargaining since its inception. Most unions will not agree to such a provision to be included in the collective bargaining agreement and will negotiate hard for a “union shop” that requires mandatory union membership and dues if the employee wishes to keep their job. I refer to such a provision as a “job tax” — you must join the union or be terminated if you choose not to join.
In my decades of labor-relations experience, I have found few employees or employers aware of their legal right to negotiate either of these types of provisions. In those incidents where I negotiated an open-shop provision, I would propose an opportunity for union officials to visit periodically to make their case to the bargaining unit for joining and paying dues to the union. Never did a union agree to such a provision to be included in the collective bargaining agreement. Guess they did not want to stand before their “customer” to answer questions and discuss their own rules and regulations (union constitution and bylaws) that apply to union membership. Organized labor has to take some ownership in this Supreme Court decision and declining membership numbers.
W.W. Bednarczyk, Minneapolis
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One reason some people agree with Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision that ends required financial support for public-sector unions from nonmembers is that they mistakenly believe workers are forced to support Democrats through their fair-share fees. This just isn’t true. As Justice Elena Kagan stated in her dissent: “… no part of those fees could go to any of the union’s political or ideological activities.” Workers who choose not to join a union pay fair share fees to help pay for collective bargaining and other services the union provides. Now, with this Supreme Court decision, they will still get all the benefits, but union members will pay for it.
Sadly, all workers will be hurt by this decision because it will weaken unions and their ability to fight for workers. Research shows that where there are strong unions to negotiate contracts, workers enjoy better pay and benefits. Where there is no strong union, pay and benefits suffer. The Republican Supreme Court majority is clearly advancing the interests of business owners, corporations and stockholders at the expense of workers.
Mary Anderson, Minneapolis
U.S. SENATE RACE
Primary debate is imperative, yes. We don’t know Tina Smith.
I was heartened to see the Star Tribune publish “U.S. Senate: We need a public debate between Smith and Painter” (June 25).
Smith’s record, except on controversial mining in northern Minnesota, gives us little basis for deciding whether to support her. She has said little about her other positions, and Painter, while clearly revealing his in public forums and online, has not had adequate coverage in the print media.
People voting in the August primary need more information to make a responsible choice. Therefore I fully support the request that there be a public debate between Painter and Smith, with professional, complete coverage in the print media, as soon as possible.
Sharon Coombs, Shoreview
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Responding to the letter asking for a Democrat primary debate between Richard Painter and Tina Smith, I am puzzled.
For starters, why would the writers insist solely on a primary for the U.S. Senate special election race when there are other heated Democratic primaries? This includes races for governor, attorney general and the Fifth Congressional District seat. Moreover, four other Democrats are running in that primary, but only Smith and Painter are named in the letter. As another published letter pointed out, many of the Democratic Party-endorsed candidates are more leftist this year, so having primary debates is not a bad idea. Just expand the debate idea to other primary races and not just the special Senate election.
William Cory Labovitch, South St. Paul