Our condolences to the family and friends of Justice Antonin Scalia ("Death rocks high court," Feb. 14). The position of Supreme Court justice is probably one of the most important in the country. It behooves the president and the Senate to select a successor without imposing any political ideals on the process. The individual should not favor either conservative or liberal, Republican or Democratic positions. The task of the justices is to interpret the Constitution without personal bias. It is not a political position and should not be used as such. Please put aside your politics and choose a learned and intelligent individual who will do what is right for all people of this country.

Pamela Olberg, Minnetonka

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Within 60 minutes of the announcement of the death of Justice Scalia, Republican leaders already had drawn a line in the sand that they would obstruct anyone that President Obama might appoint. Even a resurrection of Scalia himself would not pass muster in the Senate.

So later that day, the potential alternatives to an Obama appointment were on full display in the Republican debate. According to the candidates themselves, Donald Trump cannot be trusted because he would appoint someone even more liberal than Obama. Ted Cruz is a pathological liar who is able to speak a few words of Spanish when pressed. And Marco Rubio is a robot who needs batteries to run and also lies on every occasion possible. And, of course, it gets even worse if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders wins and the Senate is already up against a perception that it has denied a solution for a year.

Is this really a better alternative than allowing Obama to nominate someone that he knows will have to pass the advice and consent of the Senate while everyone is watching?

Michael G. Emerson, Eden Prairie

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The unexpected death of Justice Scalia is a great loss to the U.S. Although I often disagreed with his interpretation of the Constitution, I respected his stance, integrity and dry wit. The fact that his death has become no more than a political football appalls me. In Civics I, we all learned about the checks and balances of powers written into the Constitution to ensure that no one branch has total control of our government. I hope the president and the Senate will have the wisdom to select a person whose record shows a commitment to reasoned opinions that take into consideration the welfare of our union.

Judy Gelina, Bloomington

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"Scalia death opens epic battle" (Feb. 15). Really? The endless battle against any sort of action proposed by the Obama administration has been going on for over seven years now. The orchestrated response to the possibility that the president might have the audacity to do what he has every right to do — name a replacement to fill the vacancy on the bench — has the same we'll-just-do-nothing-until-we-get-our-way childishness that has been repeatedly demonstrated on so many issues.

I'm sure there are some Republicans who can honestly convince themselves that there is some validity to the argument that a "lame duck" president should not be making such appointments. But I would ask them two questions.

First, just exactly how far into a second term would a president have to get to be too "lame" to nominate a justice to the court? After all, by the first day of a second term he, or she, is beyond running for the office again. Second, how quickly would you change your tune and rush to act, if, as I certainly hope would never happen, Obama were to nominate either Sen. Chuck Grassley or Sen. Mitch McConnell to fill the opening? I suspect it would take but a matter of moments for the totally unacceptable to become the totally proper.

Harold Onstad, Plymouth


Tuition rate should work for kids from Chanhassen, not California

I am most disturbed to read the comments made by some of the regents considering the five-year tuition plan for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities ("U regents debate new tuition and enrollment proposal," Feb. 13). The tuition at the U has risen considerably since our oldest child was college age, and we are feeling the results of the increases as our son is educated at the U. The comment that makes me bristle was made by Linda Cohen as she discussed that the U would "miss out on strong candidates from other parts of the country, which enrich the experience of Minnesota students." Really, what does that even mean? When our son is sitting in his classroom at the U, I don't really care if he's sitting by students from California or Chanhassen. I just want him to continue to get a great education there. It breaks my heart that there are local families who have to look elsewhere because they can't afford the U; yet we are at the bottom of the Big Ten for tuition for out-of-state students. What is our priority? Please consider this as you place your votes, regents!



Attempt to legislate how cities pick garbage haulers just stinks

As I hear the fifth garbage truck of the week come rumbling down our alley, collecting trash from one or two customers (soon followed by the sixth, collecting from one or two more), I read of state Rep. Pat Garofalo's upcoming bill to take away my city's option to choose organized trash collection ("Fight over garbage choice moves to the Legislature," Feb. 13). If it's "tyranny" for a city to take away an individual's choice to choose their own hauler, what exactly is it when the state takes away a city's right to do the same thing? I'm not sure if this would be termed "ironic" or just "hypocritical." Whatever it is, it sure lacks clear thinking. What is so awful about allowing a city to perform what should be a municipal function in the most equitable, cost-effective way possible? What is so awful about allowing citizens to determine for themselves if they want just one truck or seven trucks rumbling down the streets and alleys every week?

Bob Guenter, St. Paul

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Bloomington's recent election of Chad Anderson as state representative came as a result of 2,582 votes cast for him, while 2,452 were tallied for his opponent, Andrew Carlson. That is a whopping grand total of 5,034 votes cast out of a population of over 85,000 in Bloomington. Anderson did win — by a narrow 130 votes. Now, can either Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, or the newly elected Anderson truly claim that the ridiculously poor voter turnout and close vote was a message about "organized garbage collection"? Good gosh! ("Fight over garbage choice moves to the Legislature," Feb. 13, and "Republican takes Bloomington House seat," Feb. 10.)

I do wish to thank outgoing DFL Rep. Ann Lenczewski for her many years of serving as our representative.

Scott Maxwell, Bloomington

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Oh, please. The Legislature cannot agree to meet to help miners in Minnesota who are out of unemployment benefits, but are immediately willing to take care of garbage pickup? That is a lot of truck fulls of garbage!

Sande Whalen, Columbia Heights


Lending a helping hand, er, pole

I don't know the young St. Louis Park High School competitive skier who was assisted in the midst of a fall at Wirth Park, but I would conjure he had an angel at his side in the form of an opposing team's coach, Doug Hubred of Robbinsdale Armstrong High School, who provided assistance to the fallen competitor ("Skier falls, rival coach provides lift," Feb. 12). Replacing competitive goals with heartfelt action happens more than we get the chance see. Thank you, Star Tribune, for putting it on the front page. It was a ray of hope among the cacophony of other news.

Marge Buss, Edina