Editorial Roundup: Missouri

Kansas City Star. May 3, 2022.

Editorial: Missouri already has an abortion ‘trigger’ ban. Kansas, your freedom is on the line

The Supreme Court’s apparent decision to reverse its landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion is a breathtaking mistake, wrong on the law, politics, history and civil rights.

For the first time in the nation’s history, at least five unelected judges seem prepared to rescind the fundamental right of women to control their own bodies. That’s the clear impact of a draft opinion leaked to Politico and published Monday evening.

Women and men who believe in freedom were justifiably outraged after reading the document. Its effect is unmistakable: It would allow states to prohibit all abortions, for whatever reason, at any time, without exceptions for a sick mother, or rape or incest, or any other reason.

It instantly renders women second-class American citizens, with fewer rights than men. It will not end abortions, just safe access to the procedure in some states.

That’s sinister enough. But there’s more: In the opinion, Justice Samuel Alito says Roe v. Wade was “egregiously wrong” because it recognized a right not in the Constitution, or part of the country’s “deeply rooted” history.

That phrase should horrify everyone. It invites states to revoke laws allowing interracial marriage, or gay relationships, or birth control, or any of a number of individual liberties long guaranteed by our founding documents but now subject to the whims of a man in a black robe.

The imperfect arc of American history has always been to expand fundamental rights and freedom. Until now.

We don’t know who leaked the draft opinion, or why. We do know it’s possible the final opinion will be less dictatorial than the one published Monday. At the same time, it’s possible — perhaps likely — that the five judges who want to discard Roe will feel compelled to do so precisely because the leak of the draft makes any other choice difficult.

If the opinion stands, American who cherish liberty must stand up. In Missouri, that means supporting the campaigns of legislators who embrace access to safe, legal reproductive health services in the state.

Sadly, Missouri has already passed a so-called “trigger” law that would outlaw almost all abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The effort to guarantee women’s rights in the state will be long and difficult.

The issue extends beyond state legislative races, however. Monday, The Washington Post revealed Republican plans to introduce a national law banning most abortions — an effort that must be resisted by members of Congress and the White House.

Abortion rights must now be at the top of every voter’s agenda. Candidate equivocation will not be acceptable: Do you believe in rights and equality for women, or not? We can vote accordingly.

In Kansas, direct action is more immediately possible. The state’s Supreme Court has said access to abortion is a right guaranteed by the state Constitution. In August, voters will be asked to overturn that decision.

The answer must be a resounding no. Every woman who believes in autonomy — for herself, her daughters and granddaughters, her neighbors and friends — must turn out, and cast a no vote on the amendment. Men, too.

Kansans can send a clear message to the nation: Here, rights matter. We vote no.

It’s tragic that we must vote to protect individual freedom. The great experiment of American self-government is built on the idea of inalienable individual rights that are not based on the passions of the moment. It’s this idea that Alito and his friends wish to cancel.

And to what end? In a few years, when the pendulum swings, new justices will overrule Alito, just as he overruled Harry Blackmun, who wrote Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court, once seen as a guarantor of liberty, will be viewed as just another partisan disaster — and respect for the rule of law will further crumble.

Perhaps that’s the point. The conservative project is increasingly clear: Ban abortion and other civil liberties, suppress the vote, end public education and equal protection of the laws. Then riot if you don’t get your way.

The Alito draft is yet another step on the road to theocracy. It’s deeply regrettable and tragic, and should be resisted by every American who loves pluralism — and freedom.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 2, 2022.

Editorial: One urgent bipartisan election reform is within reach. Democrats should take it.

A bipartisan group of senators reportedly is close to agreement on recommending reforms to a flawed, archaic law that former President Donald Trump abused in his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. The Electoral Count Act of 1887 gives the vice president a ceremonial role in approving state vote counts, but it is worded vaguely enough that Trump claimed, outrageously, that it provided Vice President Mike Pence authority to unilaterally throw out Joe Biden’s victory.

Responsible leaders in both parties understand the urgency of fixing that and other problematic language in the Electoral Count Act now, before a Republican takeover of Congress makes it impossible to move any legislation on this issue. But some Democrats are holding up a deal because they want to roll valid but more contentious voting-rights issues into it. They’re playing a dangerous game. They should accept this half loaf immediately, while they still can.

The act was written in response to the contested presidential election of 1876, in which several states sent competing slates of electors to Washington. The law was an attempt to clarify how Congress should decide such disputes. Unfortunately, its muddled language further confused the issue, while creating an opening that could allow bad actors to corrupt the process. Among those is a provision that allows one representative and one senator to trigger the process of challenging states’ election results. It was this provision that Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, exploited to turn what should’ve been the routine election certification into a showdown that ended with a mob sacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Among the changes that most fair-minded reformers agree is needed is to set the bar for such challenges much higher than it currently is. It should take more than one self-serving member of each chamber to light that fuse, and it should take more than a bare majority of each chamber to reject states’ results. Messing with electoral slates should be the heaviest of lifts.

Similarly, the vice president’s purely ceremonial role needs to be specified. No reasonable person could argue that the law as written gives the vice president power to overturn an election. But Trump backers made exactly that claim, and it was only Pence’s responsible refusal to indulge them that prevented a constitutional crisis.

The bipartisan working group, headed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, reportedly is in general agreement on those reforms. The problem, Collins said last week, is that some Democrats want to relitigate other issues from their recent failed attempt at omnibus voting-rights legislation.

Such legislation shouldn’t be controversial, but it is, and it may yet prevent Congress from acting to head off any future replay of Jan. 6 — or worse. Democrats should accept this limited but important safeguard for democracy, and live to fight another day on the rest.

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Jefferson City News Tribune. April 30, 2022.

Editorial: Proud day for veterans

For more than a century now, an area in the Capitol hallway near the lieutenant governor’s office has been known as the Hall of Sailors and Soldiers.

Over the past three years, the memorial has undergone a metamorphosis. Now called the Missouri Veterans Hall of Fame, it honors veterans -- with a twist. The 10 veterans who were inducted in the first two classes not only had ties to Missouri and served their country -- they also served their communities in valuable ways after their military service.

As we recently reported, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe was joined by veterans, state lawmakers and the Missouri Veterans Hall of Fame Board to unveil a plaque featuring the first two classes of inductees Wednesday morning.

The Sikeston VFW Post 1374 donated the plaque that contains 10 names across two inducted classes. Harry S Truman, Missouri’s only president, is among the names now hanging in the Capitol. Others are John Gordon, an Air Force veteran from Jefferson City who served as a homeland security adviser; James Tatum, an Army veteran from Pineville who served in the Korean War, then co-authored legislation that created community colleges in Missouri and led a campaign to designate land for Crowder College in 1963.

Four were inducted in the first class: Joseph J. Frank, U.S. Army; Ophelia L. Owens, U.S. Marine Corps; Brydon McCall Ross, U.S. Army Air Corps; and Truman.

Six were inducted into the second class in 2021: James M. Eddleman, U.S. Army; Gordon; Velma Bippen Jesse, U.S. Women’s Army Corps; William L. Miller Sr., U.S. Army; Tatum; and John G. “Jack” Waggener, U.S. Army.

There’s room for at least 22 more classes of inductees.

“There’s so much history in this building and to have our veterans plaque and Veterans Hall of Fame here -- it’s something that as our visitors come, they’re going to see that and they’re also going to be reminded of what veterans have done for our state,” said Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City.

We commend Griffith, Kehoe and others who have worked to develop this tribute.

There are many veterans who served our country honorably, and there are many civilians who have made great contributions to our state. This unique and fitting tribute honors the relatively few who have done both.

END