Chicago

The U.S. Supreme Court is no longer supreme

While giving a lecture at the University of Louisville hosted by Mitch McConnell, Justice Amy Coney Barrett expressed concern about the public perception that the U.S. Supreme Court has become partisan. She voiced that, “justices must be hyper vigilant to make sure they’re not letting personal biases creep into their decisions.”

That perception is right on target.

One doesn’t have to be a constitutional lawyer to recognize the direction the conservative dominated court has been heading in the last decade. In 2010, Citizens United reversed old campaign finance restrictions, allowing “dark money” from corporations and wealthy Americans to contaminate the electoral process. Then in 2013, the court decision in Shelby County vs Holder gutted the Voting Rights Act, beginning the ever-oppressive trend of Republican-controlled legislatures attacking hard-won voting rights.

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Is it any surprise that the court recently refused to block the irrational and clearly unconstitutional Texas law prohibiting any abortion after six weeks and rewarding citizens with no vested interest to sue anyone aiding a woman seeking this medical procedure? Who does Justice Barrett think she’s kidding with her “concern?”

Mitch McConnell and his cronies exacerbated this trend when he connived to prohibit Merrick Garland’s confirmation, and then back-tracked and pushed through Barrett’s confirmation just before the election. As a result, under this conservative majority, the court has become the arm of the right-wing of the Republican Party.

Whatever happened to the concept that members of the Supreme Court were individuals of exceptional integrity and wisdom, versed in law and devoted to justice? Now the Republican-appointed justices are merely the voice of the party. No longer do they interpret the law to protect American rights; instead, they turn back the direction of progress in a disgraceful manner. Out-of-touch with today’s issues, the conservative members of the court have lost all sense of the consequences of their decisions.

Under this majority, the court has reached a very low point and no longer has the confidence or respect of the American public. The founders placed no term limits on federal justices so they would be impartial and not influenced by politics. Evidently, today that concept has failed. The court is no longer supreme.

Betty Kleinberg, Deerfield

Sharing the wealth of opportunity

According to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Chicago is suffering a shortage of affordable homes. While the societal shortcoming in creating housing for all income levels is complex, one contributing factor is what I call the city’s “exclusionary edge communities.”

These far Northwest and Southwest side communities are located in neighborhoods such as Jefferson Park, Forest Glen and Beverly. They are amenity-rich, low-poverty and majority-white. Most importantly, they are job-rich areas served by public transportation — exactly where affordable housing ought to be sited.

These communities’ abdication of their civic duty harms the city as a whole. We have workers who shoulder staggering commutes to reach jobs, and a handful of racially segregated communities left to provide homes for those with lower income levels. There is also an environmental impact caused by low density developments that leave people driving more and riding public transportation less.

These communities have effectively resisted the development of affordable housing (both publicly subsidized as well as market rate) through a number of mechanisms: Employing exclusionary zoning, vetoing affordable housing via aldermanic prerogative and the vocal opposition from local homeowners.

It is time for neighborhoods such as Norwood Park, Edison Park and West Morgan Park to begin acting as if they belong to the city of Chicago. It is socially unjust, economically inefficient and environmentally harmful for these exclusionary edge communities to occupy privileged positions in proximity to jobs and transit while simultaneously not welcoming affordable housing.

It is long overdue that the walls of these gated communities come down.

Scott Kibler, Morgan Park

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