NEWS & OPINION : THE GORSUCH DEBATE; FRAMINGHAM; SANCTUARY CITIES

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^ Framingham Charter Commission members celebrate vote to make it a City. From Left : Janet Leo9mbruno, MK Feeney, Jason Smith, John Stefanini

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Judge Gorsuch

Readers of this column know my feelings about the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. As the confirmation vote draws close — Senator McConnell says he’ll hold it on Friday — the devolution of what used to be an occasion for restraint continues . You already know my view, but it’s worth restating :

(1) Judge Gorsuch argues brilliantly for his view of the law, one in which the law is held to mean what it says and says what it means, a test which he applies rigorously.

(2) My view of Constitutional interpretation is different. I think that laws must be allowed a measure of flexibility because real life doesn’t precisely reflect rules written in words. An excellent example is yesterday’s 7th Circuit decision that the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s disallowing workplace discrimination on the basis of sex necessarily incorporates sexual orientation.

(3) Judge Gorsuch would surely decide opposite. He would have good grounds for doing so : the sex of an individual, as contemplated in the 1964 law, refers to biology only. Importing into that law the concept of orientation, which clearly the 1964 law did not have in mind, rests entirely on the theory that the application of a law can expand, or change, over time as life and understanding of it evolves.

(4) sanctioning the evolving of a law seems just to most of us; yet Gorsuch would argue that any expansion was not agreed to by those who made the 1964 law, and that the agreement factor is crucial and cannot be tampered. He’d argue that disagreement about what expansions to allow undermines consensus about the law, and that consensus is vital: without it, the law weakens.

(5) Gorsuch’s point is a strong one. So what to do ? I’m not about to answer that right now. What I do want is that Gorsuch’s voice join the deliberations among the nine Justices when a case is up for decision. I want his voice there because his view cannot be lightly dismissed by a Court charged with making rulings that must stand the test of time just6 as the laws must.

The arguments being made by Gorusch’s 41 opponents fail. They. amount to saying : we don’t like how he will probably rule. Which amounts to saying that to win t.heir vote, a nominee must agree to rule as they would like. No Senator, and no person, has any right to deposit a Justice’s thinking in their bank. Other Senators say their opposition is payback for the Republican Senators disgraceful refusing to accord Merrick Garland a hearing and vote. That was indeed an act of bad faith subverting Constitutional duty; but the “payback” Democrats have aggravated that irresponsibility rather than resolve it. Then there are Democrats who advance the proposition that no nominee presented by a President under investigation for potential treason should be considered. This view is comic eyewash. Those who make it know full well that even an impeached President’s fully Constitutional acts — and a Justice nomination is one — are not voided by his or her impeachment.

I’ve had it with the selfishness of partisan politics. Either we are governed by the Constitution, or we aren’t. Either we welcome to the High Court jurists of opposing views or we abet Animal Farm.

Granted, that most of the condemn-worthy actions being taken by the Senate’s Gorsuch opponents result from pressure put on them by outraged activist constituents. The indulgent extremism overtaking political participation, on both sides, hurts everybody, yet there seems to be no stopping it. We are rolling headlong toward anarchy or civil war, and right now I see no one in a leadership position who is ready to oppose it, or even to call it out; just the opposite. Most politicians caught up in the extremist flood are happy to stoke it, and the rest are afraid to stand in its way. We will someday rue their cowardice and cynicism.

Framingham

Last night 11,263 voters in the state’s largest town voted to make it a City with a May.or and an elected 11 person Council. The vote was close, as I expected : structural change is hard to make good. Heck, the Massachusetts Ratification convention of 1787 approved the  Constitution by only three (3) votes. Here are the pecinct totals:

(1) Yes 566  No 562 ;   (2) Yes 566  No 559;   (3) Yes 305  No 440;   (4) Yes 572  No 546;   (5) Yes 492  No 498;   (6) Yes 482  No 461;   (7) Yes 417  No 370;   (8) Yes 374  No 394;  (9) Yes 207  No 233;   (10) Yes 126  No 116;   (11) Yes 566  No 455;   (12) Yes 187  No 220;   (13) Yes 248 No 243;  (14) Yes 132  No 114;   (15) Yes 204  No 154;   (16) Yes 61  No 80;   (17) Yes 27  No 45;   (18) Yes 177 No 118.

Yes won 11 precincts, No won 7. The Brazilian “South Side” voted particularly strongly in favor : Yes 381, No 272. Because the very large “North Side” precincts’ vote was split almost evenly — Yes won precincts 1, 2, 4, and 5 by just 31 votes — the “South Side” really made the difference. And you can add the “downtown” precinct (11) to that mix. There, Yes tallied 111 votes more than No.

One of the chief purposes of the City proposal was to give stronger power to the new City’s Brazilian community — some 25 percent of Framingham’s almost 70,000 people. The four Brazilian precincts will now elect two district Councillors with significant authority that should attract — and maybe inspire — ambitious politicians. That and the new Mayoral office, sure to be a significant one state-wide, given Framingham’s strategic location halfway from Worcester to Boston and close to Route 495, the Mass Turnpike, and Route 128.

Sanctuary Cities

Last night the town of Ipswich’s selectmen voted unanimously to make it a sanctuary. Five nights prior, the City of Salem voted the same. Boston, Newton, Cambridge, and Somerville have already voted likewise; other of Massachusetts’ 351 municipalities are sure to follow.

Just as our state did after the enactment in 1850 of the notorious Fugitive Slave Law, so we do today : resist kidnappers of our vulnerable neighbors. May our resistance to the Immigration Police strengthen and broaden — and forge a new “underground railroad” if need be — until the entire state becomes safe for those who have fled one oppression only to become another oppression’s target once again.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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