I trust that University of Minnesota law Prof. Richard Painter's superiors ("U professor sues Trump over conflicts of interest," Jan. 31) are keeping a close watch to make sure his work on Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is on his own time (he is still devoting full time to his teaching responsibilities) and with his own resources (computers, e-mail accounts, supplies, office space, etc.). Painter certainly seems to be a highly ethical and honorable man, and while I absolutely support his right to access the courts to address a perceived wrong, to the extent the University of Minnesota Law School and its faculty and staff are supported by the state's tax revenue, I'm sure there are many taxpayers, including me, who would be appalled to learn that their tax dollars were even indirectly supporting an effort that on its face appears to be a politically motivated crock with no chance of success.
Chuck Spevacek, Minneapolis
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Kudos to Painter for putting his professional reputation on the line by filing suit against Trump.
The Trump presidency is an outrage for many, many reasons, including the flagrant conflict of interest involving Trump's many foreign business interests. Painter's lawsuit addresses this issue head-on, and I'm very grateful to him for having the courage to go forward with it.
The Trump presidency represents a serious threat to our democracy. Resisting this threat will require courageous acts by many people, and Painter's lawsuit sets a good example for all of us to follow.
Allen Desmond, Minneapolis
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The news story about Painter struck a chord with me. I am a retired federal employee. I worked as an RN at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center for 36½ years. During that time, we had a variety of annual reviews we were required to complete. They covered a variety of topics; some were specific for the area you worked in, and others were required of all staff.
One of the reviews all employees needed to complete was on ethics. This included topics such as hiring a relative, gifts for your supervisor, gifts from company reps — no branded pens from drug companies, and gifts from patients. These restrictions were to prevent the possibility of someone getting special treatment.
After reading the article about Painter's lawsuit against the president alleging a violation of the Constitution, it made me feel like I had been held to a higher standard than the top federal employee — the president. A double standard exists in our society, the rules apply to some, but not all. Alternative truths are what we are told to make this seem acceptable. Get with the program or go. Strong and frightening words for someone who pledged everyday in school that we are one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.
Mary Mele, Eagan
SUPREME COURT NOMINEE
To use GOP's logic, isn't it a bit too late in the term for this?
Well, what can we say about Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated for the Supreme Court? He's no Merrick Garland.
Jennifer Kunze, Minneapolis
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No offense to Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, but it would be an affront to the voters to allow him to be put before the Senate for an up-or-down vote at this point in time. Trump is already 17,280 minutes into his administration. He has barely 48 months to go. Given the obvious schism among citizens and the clear differences in how we see the future of our country, the Senate Judiciary Committee should allow the people to choose the direction in which they want this country to proceed; the next justice could be on the seat for 30 or 40 years. This nomination clearly belongs to the person whom the voters choose in the next presidential election in 2020. It is only fair.
Mark Johanson, St. Paul
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A modest and reasonable proposal: Senate Democrats should oppose and filibuster the Gorsuch confirmation until 30 days after the president releases his tax returns.
Dan Berg, Minneapolis
Fellow Democrats, my dear buttercups, let these people in
I have voted as a Democrat for many years, but I could not vote for Hillary Clinton. Why would the party give us such a flawed candidate? She brings with her more baggage than the baggage handlers at the airport and has more skeletons in her closet (plus an illegal e-mail server) than the devil.
Now that we (Democrats) have lost the election, we are carrying on like spoiled brats. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer's stonewalling, grandstanding, crocodile tears and theatrics are only hurting the Democratic Party. The current president has called him a clown, and his actions are making this comment a truer statement every day. This must stop. The more Schumer stalls and puts on these theatrics, the more he looks like the head clown and the Democratic Party is the circus.
I warn you, you are losing more voters every day. "We the people" are sick of this! It costs more than $3 million a day to have our government in session. We are not paying taxes so the party can put on a theater production or play.
I am asking the party to stop this childish, insane, snowflake, buttercup behavior and get back to work. The Democratic midterm elections will be lost due to this behavior, if they haven't been already. Get these cabinet appointments done and move on.
Virginia Kautz, Zumbro Falls, Minn.
The other question on the line
in this year's legislative session
David Schultz's Feb. 1 commentary "Bills in Legislature are at odds with balanced redistricting" highlights one very important aspect of the redistricting principles bills currently in the Minnesota Legislature: whether redistricting is to be delegated to a commission. However, another important issue lurks in the details.
The bills Schultz cites (SF86/HF314) require the population of legislative districts to be equal within plus or minus 0.5 percent. The alternative bills, HF246/SF370, specify a tolerance of plus or minus 2 percent, the same as was used by the judicial Special Redistricting Panel in 2011.
This seemingly technical matter is important because the equality of population takes precedence over other principles, such as keeping counties, cities and towns intact. If a stringent standard is used, more breaking up of political subdivisions will be necessary. Once breaking up is necessary, those drawing the lines can choose how to do it. With a less stringent standard for population equality, the lines can respect more of principles listed in the bills and correspondingly be less open to discretion.
Max Hailperin, St. Peter, Minn.
Today's the day not to shine
Early this morning, when no one was around to see, Congress peeked out of its bunker. Seeing the shadow of Donald Trump, congressional critters scuttled back to safety and silence to prep for their next run for re-election.
Barbara J Gilbertson, Eagan