- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2005

Georgia remap

Georgia lawmakers have approved a middecade congressional redistricting, opening the door for Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue to sign it into law.

The state House approved the remapping of House congressional districts for a final time Tuesday after Monday’s Senate approval of the Republican-driven changes.

Although Mr. Perdue’s approval is guaranteed, the Justice Department must still provide its expected approval of the plan under provisions of the Voting Rights Act before it can take effect for the 2006 election, United Press International reports.

The current congressional district map was drafted by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly in 2001, after the 2000 census, as is the custom.

However, with Republicans controlling both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion, Georgia follows other states with similar situations in adopting a middecade redistricting aimed at shoring up Republican seats in the U.S. House.

The redistricting is not considered likely to change the current party breakdown in Georgia’s U.S. House delegation from seven Republican and six Democratic lawmakers by much, but several Republican districts will be better protected from Democratic challenges.

Santorum’s stance

Sen. Rick Santorum, a longtime death-penalty supporter, said he is re-examining his stance but not to the point of saying it is wrong in all cases.

“I still support the death penalty, but what I’m suggesting is, number one, we have to be more cautious,” he said Tuesday, saying capital punishment should be limited to the “most horrific and heinous of crimes.”

Mr. Santorum, who is running for a third term, said he is “not saying that I fundamentally believe the death penalty is wrong.”

In an interview published in Tuesday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mr. Santorum, a Roman Catholic, said he agrees with the pope that the use of the death penalty should be limited.

Asked to elaborate by the Associated Press, the conservative Republican said: “I could see a legitimate rationale for not executing juveniles” as long as the offender was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.

The Supreme Court ruled March 1 that execution of those who kill as juveniles is unconstitutional.

“There are reasons that we execute people: for the sake of protecting society and exacting justice” and as a deterrent, he said. “This is not the taking of innocent human life. … In many respects, you could look at the death penalty as self-defense.”

State Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., who said he plans to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Mr. Santorum, supports the death penalty.

How scandalous

“CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Tuesday night noted how ‘members of Congress deny’ their actions on the [Terri] Schiavo case represented ‘a political move on their part but,’ Schieffer charged, ‘some of their comments caught on tape suggest otherwise,’” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

Wyatt Andrews insisted that ‘there is evidence some Republicans saw a political opening in Schiavo by framing her plight in the context of pro-life or anti-abortion politics.’ His evidence? One memo with a political point and some comments by Tom DeLay to ‘a leading Christian group,’ which Andrews treated as scandalous and characterized as DeLay saying ‘the Schiavo case was sent by heaven to focus attention on the helpless.’ As if that’s something to be embarrassed about.

“Schieffer apparently thought so, as he soon asked Andrews: ‘Has Tom DeLay issued any statement since these comments of his became public?’ Andrews replied that ‘he has not’ and went on to assert that ‘there is a lot of buzz here on Capitol Hill that he spearheaded this over the weekend to change the subject from some of the ethics questions that he’s facing.’”

Attack on speech

“When it comes to the law of unintended consequences, the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance ‘reform’ is rapidly becoming a legal phenomenon. The latest example comes courtesy of the Federal Election Commission, where officials are being asked to extend the law to the very people it is supposed to empower: individual citizens,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“We’d like to say we’re surprised, but this was always going to be the end result of a law that naively believed it could ban money from politics. Since 2003, when the Supreme Court upheld it, McCain-Feingold has failed spectacularly in its stated goal of reining in fat-cat donors. Yet its uncompromising language has helped to gag practically every other politically active entity — from advocacy groups to labor unions. Now the FEC is being asked to censor another segment of society, the millions of individuals who engage in political activity online,” the newspaper said.

“The problem facing the FEC is that McCain-Feingold broadly restricts coordination with, and contributions to, political candidates. So what is the agency to do with all those people who use their Web sites to praise a candidate? Computers and Web access cost money, which could be construed as a financial contribution to a campaign. Ditto bloggers who link to politicians’ Web sites, or any individual who forwards a candidate’s press release to a list of buddies. All this is to say nothing of blogs that are affiliated with political campaigns and coordinate their activities.

“To its credit, the FEC tried to avoid this headache in 2002 by exempting the Internet from campaign-finance rules. This proved far too sensible for the sponsors of the law, who sued the commission for allowing ‘loopholes’ and got a federal judge to strike down the exemption. The FEC must now decide just how it intends to monitor and penalize all those attempting to corrupt the U.S. political system via modem.”

Carter looks ahead

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, resigned from the board of the Carter Center, the Atlanta-based human-rights organization they founded more than two decades ago.

The board elected San Diego Padres owner John Moores, one of the organization’s trustees since 1994, as chairman, the center said. The Carters will remain trustees and plan to stay active in the center’s fund-raising activities and programs, Bloomberg News reports.

“Rosalynn and I see this as part of the ongoing process of preparing the Carter Center for the time when we no longer are active,” Mr. Carter said. “As its founders, we know the Carter Center will always be linked to our identity and personalities, but we proudly recognize the center has expanded its reach beyond what the two of us contribute.”

The former president founded the nonprofit organization as a policy research center in 1982 in a partnership with Emory University. The center’s mission is to improve human rights and alleviate suffering by resolving conflicts, improving health and promoting freedom and democracy.

It is located in a 35-acre park about 2 miles east of Atlanta, next to the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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