A roundup of recent Michigan newspaper editorials

June 17, 2019 GMT

The Detroit News. June 13, 2019

Trump judicial nominee, Michigan lawyer, victim of sleazy GOP hit job

There are plenty of good reasons to oppose a nominee to the federal court bench. Effectiveness in representing a client should not be one of them.

President Donald Trump hoped to continue his admirable streak of filling federal judicial openings with competent, respected jurists when he named attorney Michael Bogren to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Bogren is a conservative with an impressive career as an attorney. His name was forwarded by a bipartisan search committee and was endorsed by both of Michigan’s Democratic senators, not an easy get these days for a Republican nominee.


But his confirmation was derailed by a GOP senator who objected to Bogren’s vigorous defense of a client, the city of East Lansing, against a charge of religious discrimination. The suit was brought by a Catholic farmer who was barred from the city’s open-air market because he voiced his opposition to gay marriage, saying he wouldn’t host a gay wedding on his farm if asked.

We supported the farmer’s position, on the grounds that he should not be required to abandon his religious beliefs to sell vegetables in a public market. Those who objected to his stance could simply walk by his stand.

Bogren argued in the case that, “there can be no constitutionally sound argument that sincerely held religious beliefs would permit a secular business to avoid the prohibitions against racial discrimination or gender discrimination found in federal, state and local laws.”

He added that if a Ku Klux Klan member who opposed interracial marriage did what the farmer did, he would not be able to invoke the First Amendment to avoid anti-discrimination statutes.

It was a good defense.

But his remarks were seized upon by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, and other GOP senators and twisted to imply that Bogren was lumping Catholics into the same category as Klansmen. Religious groups flooded the White House with protest letters, and this week Bogren withdrew his name from consideration.

Bogren is the victim of a sleazy character attack. He is not anti-Catholic. He was simply doing his job as the ethics rules governing lawyers require — “zealously advocate the client’s best interest.”

Hawley is apparently unfamiliar with John Adams. America’s second president took grief for representing the British soldiers who carried out the Boston massacre in 1770, but that didn’t keep him from assuming his role as a Founding Father and leader of the independence movement.


Hawley’s motives may not be entirely pure. The Missouri senator has a long association with the Alliance Defending Freedom, the group that is supporting the farmer in the case, and was a paid speaker at one of their events when he was a law professor.

Applying political litmus tests to judicial nominees is something Democrats do. Republicans should know better. That they did it to one of their own is particularly offensive.

Bogren was an excellent pick made by a Republican president who may not have much time left to put his stamp on the federal courts. Neither Bogren nor Trump should have been treated this way.


The Mining Journal. June 16, 2019

Reading a life skill you just can’t do without

If you’re able to read, and, hopefully, comprehend, this editorial, then you’ve got a skill that some people may never learn.

Possessing the ability to read is something many of us likely take for granted. It’s a skill we learned years ago as children back in school, when the scrapes on our knees we got from recess meant more than the lessons we were taught on the chalkboard.

But there’s a lifelong value in learning to read, particularly at a young age, that should not be overlooked, even in this day and age when some youngsters can’t write cursive or tell what time it is by looking at the face of an analog clock.

Reading can take you on an adventure with swashbuckling pirates around the world, or with aliens to other planets. It can help you learn new languages, teach you all you need to know about insects, help you discover new revelations about yourself or how to better understand love and building relationships with others. It can even help you read newspaper articles every day so that you can be an informed and engaged member of our community, like you, dear reader.

Reading is the key needed to unlock so much information in our world, and it’s an exceptional way to learn and enjoy all sorts of different topics simply with the power of one’s brain and imagination.

And it’s true that learning to read at an early age is becoming more of a focus in Michigan.

In 2017, only 35% of fourth-grade Michigan students performed at or above proficient levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test, which is administered every two years.

That’s an increase of 1% from the 2015 figure, according to the Michigan Department of Education’s 2017-18 Annual Review. Those numbers are not good enough.

The Legislature in 2016 passed Michigan’s “Read by Grade Three” law requiring schools to identify students struggling with reading and writing and to provide them with extra instruction. Starting with the 2019-20 school year this fall, third-graders who are more than one grade level behind in those skills may be required to repeat third grade under the law, according to the MDE review.

That’s why it’s important we support summer reading programs held by local places like the Peter White Public Library in Marquette, the Negaunee Public Library in Irontown, the Ishpeming Carnegie Library farther west and the many other great libraries throughout our state.

It’s also why we at The Mining Journal are proud to partner with an organization like 8-18 Media, which held its annual awards ceremony last week at the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, where the Journal and other media partners presented awards to the youngsters.

8-18 Media engages area children in different projects that focus on improving their communication skills, like writing weekly columns that appear in The Mining Journal’s Our Youth section. You can find an example on today’s page 1C.

You’ll also see a photo provided to us by the Peter White Public Library highlighting its summer reading program about Flat Astro. At the library, children can pick up Flat Astro - a paper cutout of an astronaut — then take a photo of him somewhere in the community and post it to the library’s social media page. Library staffers will then select one photo to run in the paper on Sunday’s Our Youth page.

The idea is to keep kids involved with reading during the summer months, and it’s something we’re proud to support.

Yes, reading is taught in schools, but a lot of it starts at home, and that means parents need to engage their children in reading, especially during the summer when the school textbooks are shelved to collect dust.

Libraries are outstanding resources for young readers, and programs like 8-18 Media help hone those communication skills we could all seek to improve.

Reading and writing all flow together to build good communicators, and that’s something this increasingly interconnected world could use more of.


Traverse City Record-Eagle. June 16, 2019

Happy Father’s Day

Father’s Day celebrates dads — those mythical beings who reliably bring home a paycheck, fix a leaky roof, provide an endless and sometimes-appreciated stream of parental advice, and instinctively know when a simple game of catch can help a son or daughter through an emotional moment.

Father’s Day also celebrates real dads — the guys who, despite their faults, love their children and do the best they can to provide a stable family life and help raise well-adjusted kids.

Dads, after all, are human. They aren’t perfect. They can be confused and uncertain. They make mistakes. They aren’t really mythical beings.

Today’s families are not all built on the traditional assembly of a mother, a father and children. Family units come in all shapes and sizes, and they always have. The concept of Father’s Day probably stemmed from some form of non-traditional home life.

The origins of Father’s Day are a bit cloudy.

One narrative suggests the holiday was the brainstorm of a woman who in 1910 began promoting the idea of a U.S. holiday for fathers because she was raised, along with five siblings, by a single parent named William Jackson Smart.

Another narrative traces the holiday’s origins to tragedy. A 1907 mining disaster in Monongah, West Virginia, killed 361 workers, including 250 fathers. A local service held the following year is said to have led to the Father’s Day concept.

Fathers come in a wide variety of flavors, from aloof to overbearing.

A few extreme types of fathers regularly appear in popular entertainment. Sitcoms portray dads as buffoons who stumble through each day and can’t seem to get anything right. Dramas frequently include father characters who are violent or deadbeat or disinterested. All those kinds of dads exist. But they’re not the norm.

In the real world, most dads are good guys. They help support their families financially, socially and emotionally. They strive to protect their kids from danger. They teach — both by words and by example — their children about common sense, character, morals and ethics. When daughters and sons are confused by signals they get from peers or from society, dads — and moms, of course — try to coach their offspring through that particular piece of our complicated world. Then they move onto the next day, the next uncertainty, the next words of wisdom.

Most of all, fathers love their children. That love translates in many ways over the course of a lifetime. Fathers can serve as a landmark of stability as kids navigate the winding road toward adulthood. Dads also can serve as a stable source of advice for adult children. Once a dad, always a dad.

Fathers know they’ve done a good job when their kids grow up to be strong, thinking, caring, independent adults.

We hope your Father’s Day is filled with love and gratitude.