Editorial Roundup: Kansas

Kansas City Star. June 24, 2022.

Editorial: After abortion ban, do you think Missouri and Kansas right-wingers will stop there?

The U.S. Supreme Court — untethered to facts, precedent, the law or the Constitution — has declared all American women second-class citizens, unprotected by the nation’s founding documents.

Voting 6-3, the Court discarded Roe v. Wade, the seminal case protecting a woman’s right to an abortion for half a century.

The decision ranks among the court’s most disturbing anti-liberty decisions, alongside the Dred Scott case, the Plessy case that entrenched discrimination and Korematsu, which affirmed the incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent.

“One result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens,” the three dissenting justices wrote. “As of today, this Court holds, a state can always force a woman to give birth.”

The decision is an outrage. It will infuriate millions of women who have joined the 150-year fight to protect their rights. It will cause sickness, and women will die unnecessarily.

It will not end the debate over abortion, and abortion rights. Nor should it.

Some may be tempted to abandon the effort to protect equality, because of frustration, or exhaustion, or anger. Those reactions would be understandable. But Americans who believe in freedom and self-governance can’t give up now, particularly in Missouri and Kansas, where the crusade against women is likely to accelerate.

Missouri took the first step, implementing a so-called “trigger law” that bans abortion in the state. There is little that can be immediately done to resist this tyranny, which is tragic. Instead, Missourians must redouble efforts to elect state legislators and other officials who are committed to ensuring equal rights for all. It’s that simple.

Kansans have a more direct way to make their voices known. In August, they’ll consider an amendment to the state constitution that would hand a woman’s personal decision-making to the anti-liberty cabal in the state capitol.

We are still considering the arguments for and against the amendment, and will write about our views later. But there can be no doubt that Kansans who believe women should be seen as equal before the law must register to vote, and cast their ballots later this summer.

When they do, they must remember the disingenuous reasoning of the six members of the Supreme Court who prevailed Friday. Most of them told the nation that Roe was “settled law” during their confirmation hearings, or suggested they were neutral on the issue.

They were lying. They lied to the Senate, and to the American people. Like all judges, they are not due additional respect or deference because they wear black robes. They have acted as politicians, not neutral arbiters of fact and law.

Do not believe the argument, led by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, that Friday’s decision doesn’t affect same-sex marriage, or contraception, or interracial relationships. In his own additional opinion, Clarence Thomas urged his fellow justices to reconsider all precedents involving due process, “including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” That means contraception, consensual sex and same-sex marriage.

Does anyone think the right-wingers who engineered this calamity will stop now? Do we think Missouri and Kansas lawmakers will leave these rights untouched?

Do we think Congress will resist a federal law eliminating abortion, and the rights of women?

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Topeka Capital-Journal. June 24, 2022.

Editorial: KDOT correct to audit inspections and reexamine bridges in wake of I-70 viaduct barrier collapse

The Kansas Department of Transportation says the structural integrity of the Quincy-Polk Interstate 70 viaduct is sound after a 60-foot portion of the concrete barrier collapsed earlier this month.

Thankfully, no one was hurt and KDOT dodged a catastrophic disaster as a result. People aren’t “Looney Tunes” and wouldn’t bounce back from that much debris landing on them.

The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Tim Hrenchir reports a KDOT bridge inspector has resigned after failing to notify a supervisor of warning signs shown in photos taken during a May 23 inspection.

KDOT now plans to audit all of its bridge inspections. The review will include an audit of all the inspections conducted by the inspector who handled the Polk-Quincy Viaduct work. The 105 bridges that cross over traffic will be prioritized first. KDOT will hire people from the private sector to help the eight inspectors it already employs to conduct those inspections.

We think this was a swift and decisive action that only ensures the safety of drivers statewide. We appreciate that KDOT has used this situation as a humbling but teachable moment.

Hrenchir also reports after a review of Shawnee County’s 568 bridges, 58 are in need of replacement, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, though none were designated unsafe. Additionally, the phrase “basically intolerable” was used to describe 50 of those bridges, including nine that are used by more than 14,000 vehicles a day. Topeka’s city government maintains six of those nine bridges, while KDOT maintains the other three.

Hrenchir reports this is a matter of jargon. The only reason the three KDOT-maintained bridges were classified as “basically intolerable” is because federal highway officials use that term to describe bridges for which the decks are narrower than they would be if those bridges were being built brand new, which is the case with all three, KDOT secretary Julie Lorenz.

Lorenz added, “The bridges are safe, just narrow.”

We’re glad to know none of the bridges in Shawnee County are unsafe.

We’re glad to know KDOT is taking steps to keep Kansans safe.

“Keeping drivers and pedestrians safe is our top priority,” Lorenz said. “We are taking these additional actions out of an abundance of caution for travelers and will work diligently to make these safety improvements as quickly as possible.”

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