- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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March 28

The Courier-Journal on Gov. Bevin’s veto of a mental health law:

For five years, advocates of people with severe mental illness have fought for legislation in Kentucky designed to break the revolving cycle of hospitals, jails and homelessness.

This session, their effort paid off - almost.

Stunningly, Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed the legislation over concerns that it encroaches on individual civil liberties.

We urge legislators to override this veto.

Senate Bill 91, known as “Tim’s Law,” would allow a judge to order outpatient treatment for up to a year for some people unable to recognize the severity of their mental illness.

Credit Louisville Republicans Sen. Julie Raque Adams, who sponsored the bill, and Rep. Jason Nemes, for leading the effort. The bill passed strongly out of both chambers - 95-0 in the House and 34-3 in the Senate.

The legislation offers another option for judges, who already have the power to commit someone to a psychiatric hospital.

Legislators should stand behind their original support of the bill, which is named after Tim Morton, a Lexington man who died after years of hopelessly cycling through jails and hospitals.

Jail is no place for the mentally ill. People suffering from mental illness know this- their families know this, and the governor knows this.

Online:

https://www.courier-journal.com

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April 2

The Bowling Green Daily News on sanctuary cities:

We are a nation of laws.

Some might not like the laws that we have, but the law is the law and as citizens we have a duty and an obligation to follow these laws. We don’t get to pick and choose the laws that we like or don’t like and adhere to some but not others. As citizens, we have the right to seek change through our elected representatives.

Unfortunately, elected officials in several states have allowed more than 140 sanctuary jurisdictions - either counties and 37 cities - to exist despite the fact these are illegal under the Constitution. Immigration is clearly a federal responsibility.

It should be no surprise that some of these sanctuary cities are in the most liberal, out-of-touch cities in the country, such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles. Elected officials in these cities think it is OK to provide safety and sanctuary to immigrants living in the country illegally, often with serious criminal records, by ignoring detainer requests from federal immigration officials.

We have seen several examples of the tragic consequences of their decisions. One instance that comes to mind is Kate Steinle, who was walking with family on a pier in San Francisco in 2015 when she was shot and killed by an immigrant living in the country illegally who had previously been deported five times. More recently, a 14-year-old Maryland high school girl was raped in a school bathroom allegedly by two older students, at least one of whom is an immigrant living in the country illegally.

One could argue that Steinle would still be alive today if the city of San Francisco hadn’t provided a haven for this person who, like these elected officials, defied our laws.

Any city or county in this country that allows sanctuary cities to exist deserves to have all federal funding taken away for blatantly defying the law.

For much of Barack Obama’s presidency, he, like the elected officials in the cities mentioned, turned a blind eye to sanctuary cities and in essence gave the impression that it was OK for these elected officials to allow these cities to defy current law.

Now we have a president who took his oath seriously and will enforce the law, not just the ones he likes.

President Donald Trump made clear during his presidential campaign that strengthening our southern border against the flow immigrants living in the country illegally would be one of his top priorities. He also made it clear that any sanctuary city that didn’t change course would have federal funding cut off.

Trump is staying true to those promises.

On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions echoed Trump’s stance that any sanctuary city in the U.S. must adhere to federal immigration laws or face having federal funding cut off.

“When cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe,” Sessions said. “Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk, especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.”

Sessions announced that the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for DOJ grants certify compliance with U.S. Code 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards, referring to a U.S. law which says cities cannot prevent federal authorities from enforcing immigration laws.

Sessions is right on the mark. He and Trump take their oath to defend the Constitution seriously by actually enforcing our laws.

Some elected officials in the cities mentioned have said they will fight Session’s plan.

We as a country should not continue to give billions of dollars to cities whose out-of-touch elected leaders continue to defy our federal immigration laws.

They have now been put on notice and they need to promptly comply with Session’s directive.

The rule of law requires no less.

Online:

https://www.bgdailynews.com

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April 4

The Lexington Herald-Leader on Sen. McConnell and the nuclear option:

Call it poetic justice or political karma - the master Mitch McConnell may soon destroy one of his favorite weapons of mass obstruction.

To overcome Democratic opposition to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Majority Leader McConnell is ready to end the Senate’s 60-vote requirement to advance Supreme Court nominees to confirmation and instead allow Gorsuch’s to move on a simple majority of 51 in the 100-member Senate. This is considered such a dramatic break from Senate tradition that it’s called the “nuclear option,” the hyperventilated term revealing how highly the Senate regards itself.

It’s amusing to hear McConnell criticize Democrats for using tactics that he perfected. During his years as minority leader, McConnell wielded Senate rules, such as the 60-vote requirement, like no one ever before. McConnell’s goal: block President Barack Obama’s appointments and legislative agenda. Last year, as majority leader, McConnell refused to give Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland so much as a hearing on the invented grounds that the appointment rightfully belonged to the next president.

Interestingly, McConnell refused during a Sunday appearance on “Meet the Press” to support formalizing his invented rule, which suggests to us that if a high-court seat came open 11 months before a Republican president’s exit, McConnell would view the situation differently.

McConnell is appealing to principle in his pleas to Democrats to avoid a partisan filibuster. But he has only his past actions to blame for Democrats’ stubbornness. Two wrongs might not make a right. But in Washington’s realpolitik, rewarding a wrong guarantees you’ll be wronged again. Democrats, logically enough, think that easing Gorsuch’s confirmation would reward McConnell’s intransigence on the Obama nominee. Some credit McConnell for Trump’s narrow victory because the vacant Supreme Court seat motivated conservative voters.

Republicans also are quick to point out that as majority leader Democrat Harry Reid “went nuclear” in 2013 by ending the 60-vote requirement for lower court and executive branch appointees. At the time, there were three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, second in importance only to the Supreme Court. McConnell was so effective at blocking Obama’s nominees that President Donald Trump inherited almost twice as many judicial vacancies (an estimated 103) as Obama did (53).

Eroding the 60-vote requirement, also known as the filibuster, does alter the nature of the Senate in ways that McConnell once decried. The Senate would become less consensus-oriented and deliberative as the minority party lost clout. The filibuster, however, is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution - the Senate created it - and has sometimes been used for ill, including to prolong Jim Crow laws by blocking civil rights legislation.

The objections to Gorsuch are rooted in substance not politics alone. The Coloradan came off less qualified in person than on paper. His record reflects an intemperate zeal to dismantle protections for workers, consumers, clean water and air.

Perhaps a Supreme Court seat for Republicans is McConnell’s ultimate plum. But in 2013 when Democrats changed the 60-vote rule for some appointments, McConnell said, “It’s a sad day in the history of the Senate.” McConnell, who perfected the obstructionist model, is reaping what he sowed.

Online:

https://www.kentucky.com

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