Making the case against originalism from the Supreme Court


In Thomas Jefferson’s own words

The fact that we would have to interpret the Constitution over time was well understood by our founders. It literally is etched in marble on the wall of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington:

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

If ever there was a refutation of the strict constructionists’ argument, it is these words of Jefferson. Strict construction must be seen for what it is: a sham. And it is a sham elaborately designed to achieve political aims.

Barry Butler, Centennial

To restore liberty of a person — revive the ERA

Re: “Hard to square Dobbs and Bruen with originalism,” July 17 commentary

Did the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal individual liberty for all intend to mean only those of the white male property owners who passed it?

Since the implementation of the U.S. Constitution, it took over a century for the 19th Amendment to guarantee a woman’s right to vote. It took longer for a Supreme Court decision to include integrated public schools and still longer for civil rights and voting rights. And it took 150 years to extend to a woman’s right over her body in the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade.

That piecemeal approach to women’s rights is again incomplete.

Or is it?

Twentieth-century women (and men) also struggled for a Constitutional Equal Rights Amendment, which was finally achieved and ratified by both Houses of Congress in 1972, and shelved with the U.S. Archivist awaiting publication. The ERA remains the only final solution. Otherwise, the ending of unviable, dangerous, unwanted and unsupported pregnancies will always be a political football, endlessly passing and repealed with every two-year election season. Patchworks cannot provide equality for all.

How does an individual delegate responsibility for her body to representatives for whom she did not vote and who are elected by strangers?

The Equal Rights Amendment must be revived.

Justice Samuel Alito’s most relevant HIStory at the time of our Founding Fathers is not the even deeper-rooted, unwritten tradition and HERstory of midwifery, abortifacients, miscarriages, and common private lived practices; nor women’s unrecorded peacetime death rates from ages 10 to 48.

The choice is, and always has been, hers — at the cost of her life. Government’s duty is to ensure her ending a pregnancy is safe, private, and rare.

Mary Estill Buchanan, Boulder

Editor’s note: Buchanan is a former Colorado secretary of state and Republican U.S. Senate nominee.

What about original definition of Militia?

I remember being taught in junior high how to diagram a sentence. How is it that in the single sentence of the 2nd Amendment, the “well regulated Militia” (Capital M = formal State Militia) is not seen as the specific people whose right to bear arms should not be infringed?

Note that state militias at the time were a state’s only defense since there was not to be a standing federal army. Also, “militias” at the time only applied to able-bodied men. Why even mention militias if that was not their intent? I have a hard time seeing the originalism any other way.

Also, apparently, the originalists on the court have determined that the states should be able to tell people how to manage their bodies and health decisions, even when many Republican-led states are more than happy to write laws based on their own religious leanings. I guess allowing state theocracies in half our nation is OK?

Is the solution to just get out if a state’s theocracy does not align with one’s personal autonomy and the fundamental right to self-determination?

Jim Aldridge, Golden

E-bike use and improved safety measures are crucial

Re: “E-bike rebates are a nice idea. But the real issue is Denver’s streets are not bike safe.” July 17 commentary

I strongly disagree. The e-bike rebate is getting more people on bikes and that’s terrific.

More bikes on the streets equal heightened awareness of cyclists, inherently making the road safer for everyone.

Yes, we need better infrastructure. I believe that will happen more quickly as more people ride bikes and become advocates for better street design.

Gerald Horner, Denver

Denver’s e-bike rebate program is a resounding success, supporting residents in exploring new ways to travel amid high gas prices and concern for the climate. E-bikes are a game-changer, allowing people to go longer distances, replace car trips, and carry items such as groceries with greater ease and zero emissions.

Excitement around the program is palpable, with one of the nearly 1,000 new e-bike owners proclaiming on Twitter that they “completed their first no-gas grocery run.”

Data tracking the use of Lyft and Lime’s e-bikes in Denver shows nearly 400,000 trips since 2018, totaling more than 600,000 miles. E-bikes are expanding mobility options while supporting efforts to reduce emissions.

More bikes and safer roads go hand-in-hand. The city is steadfast in its commitment to building a safe, accessible bike network that connects people to the places they want to go and that is rooted in equity, sustainability, health and congestion mitigation.

While the network buildout is ongoing, the hundreds of miles already in place are not only an attractive alternative to driving but a critical means of transportation.

The city is working to facilitate a mode shift that includes an infrastructure buildout that reduces conflicts between people on bikes and in cars and encourages behavior change with the rebate program.

Improving safety and achieving the city’s vision of zero traffic fatalities cannot be accomplished by infrastructure alone; we need the public’s help and drivers to slow down, drive sober, and watch for people traveling on foot and on wheels, including wheelchairs.

Adam Phipps and Grace Rink

Editor’s note: Phipps is executive director of Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. Rink is executive director of the city’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency.

Your article about bicycle accidents was very timely, considering our state legislature passed a new bill stating it is legal for bicycles to treat stop signs like yield signs and to proceed through a red light after slowing to check traffic.

While encouraging bicycles for primary transportation as well as leisure, making it legal to run stop signs and red lights increases the chances of being struck by a vehicle. Not only that, it makes it a dangerous situation for an automobile driver to turn safely.

Not sure what the legislators and governor were thinking on this one, but they have upped the risk factor exponentially.

Liz Wolfson, Denver

Drive to avoid tragedy

Re: “ ‘Lisa will never be Lisa again’,” July 17 news story

As an avid cyclist, I was deeply saddened to read about Greg Johnson’s and Lisa Ludwig’s severe injuries after their hit-and-run biking accidents.

Nearly three years ago, one of my cycling friends, Dwight “Red” Miller, was struck by a car and left critically injured while on a ride back home from the Aurora Reservoir — a route I had ridden with him three days prior. Red died from his injuries a short time later.

Cycling is an awesome sport for many, helping us maintain our fitness and health, but some drivers seem to have little regard for our safety.

I hope drivers will remember that cyclists are very vulnerable and that by obeying the laws and paying attention, we can coexist on the roads and keep everybody safe and healthy.

Tragedies need not happen if we can all show some consideration and support for one another.

Suzan M. Allen, Parker

Lessons to be learned from Jan. 6 committee hearings

Re: “If only Jan. 6 bit players are punished, our democracy is doomed,” July 15 commentary

The Jan. 6 committee hearings should be shocking to every American who believes in our Constitution.

Trump’s appointees, legal team and staff have spoken about the attempt to deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election. If one reads German history from the 1920s-40s, one will find troubling similarities to Trump’s attempted power grab.

Historians and German citizens asked how Adolf Hitler and Nazism could have taken hold. Was it outrageous inflation, rapid changes in technology, cultural “race” and class divisions, or the rise of a cult-megalomaniac leader?

Perhaps it was all the above, but one must wonder if things would have been different if citizens, politicians and the media all had not turned a blind eye.

It is time for our elected officials who have supported Trump to apologize.

We should not turn a blind eye to the dangerous events of Jan. 6 and of this continued ideological movement.

Rebecca Parnell, Centennial

No more free rides

Re: “Auto registrations decline 11.3%,” July 19 news story

I noted the article in the business section concerning the decline of auto registrations and the money it’s “costing” the state. I recently wrote Gov. Jared Polis a letter about the drivers who have expired plates, expired permits, etc.

I expressed my frustration at the decision not to fine people when I had just paid $140 for a 2009 truck, $280 for a motorcycle plate and more than $40 for a utility trailer plate (which included a $10 late fee because they failed to send the renewal card to the right address).

Where is all that revenue? I was behind a smoking, rusted-out Toyota with a paper plate that expired in May 2020. There’s your revenue.

Willie Nelson, Loveland

No need to hunt wolves

I’m an avid hunter and outdoorsman, and I am a native Coloradan. I only shoot what I want to eat.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife wolf advisory group is discussing whether wolves should be hunted.

Wolves manage their own populations. There is no need for a population cap. Reintroducing wolves to Colorado will be difficult, but we do not need a hunting season for wolves.

We need to give wolves time to adjust, time to exert their ecological role. There needs to be some form of control, i.e., if lone wolves cause excessive damage to livestock, but there should be no open season on wolves.

To kill a wolf for its pelt is trophy hunting and nothing else. When I’m big-game hunting, I want to see a family of wolves trotting across the hillside, hunting with me, and maybe, just maybe, to hear a wolf howl in the wilderness.

Brett Ochs, Boulder

Climate needs are nonpartisan

Re: “Climate politics are worse than you think,” July 20 commentary

Paul Krugman’s article is right on as usual. It’s not just Sen. Joe Manchin who nixed the climate bill — it’s Manchin and the whole Republican Party. But wouldn’t you think that a couple of Republican senators could break with the party for something so important?

Listen, Republicans, we need you to step up: Planet over party.

Susan Permut, Monument

Paul Krugman: Your long-winded rant on climate politics begins with the premise that global warming has stopped being a debatable threat. True, but what’s debatable is the extent that global warming is caused by man and fossil fuels.

You say you don’t want to talk about Sen. Joe Manchin, yet you go on for four more paragraphs.

We are both skeptical of carbon taxes, so at least we agree on something.

You want to “frame” climate action as an opportunity, but why do we have to frame it? You say all Republicans are “deeply hostile to clean energy.” I believe that everybody, Democrat or Republican, wants clean energy.

You insist on drawing a parallel to COVID-19. “Vaccination seemed to offer a win-win solution. … Who could possibly object”? Oh, I don’t know; why don’t you ask the parents of children under 5 who were recently approved for the vaccine? Only 2% have been vaccinated. Does that tell you anything? No, the GOP is “hostile to science and scientists” and is responsible for the planet burning.

Mr. Krugman, you have had a distinguished 20-plus year career as an columnist for The New York Times. Is this the best you can do?

Jim McCluskey, Littleton

Drive better to conserve fuel

I have an idea for mitigating the impact of high gasoline prices on drivers’ home budgets: Leave for your destination a few minutes early and drive the speed limit or below.

Also, instead of speeding up to a traffic light or stop sign and braking hard to stop, start slowing early and take advantage of your engine’s ability to slow the car down, saving on fuel and brake lining replacements.

Allowing enough time to reach your destination at a more leisurely pace ought to also help decrease the need for fast acceleration, saving fuel. It also might help reduce your blood pressure (and that of drivers around you), possibly reducing your medication costs.

Delores Dafoe, Denver

Check affiliation at Capitol doors

There is so much political division today that perhaps a suggestion might help. I propose that when an elected official takes the oath to the Constitution of the United States, she or he forgoes any reference to their political party from then until no longer in office. Running for office on a platform tied to a party may be allowed, but once avowed, that allegiance is no longer valid since the oath is to the Constitution and the citizens it represents whether they voted for that person or not.

All elected officials would have the letter A for America following their names while in office. It might be a small thing, and certainly alliances and philosophies will play out. But it could help us hear the person so we can vote for what they say and do rather than simply putting a political party ahead of the nation.

Too many politicians put party first and country second. They must demonstrate they are the exact opposite to gain my vote. That is real political integrity.

Richard Babcock, Colorado Springs

Delightful day, thanks to shuttle

Re: “Fly to the mountains,” June 25 news story

I wanted to say thank you for your article highlighting the various day trip options with the new Pegasus Shuttle. My husband and I took a day trip to Frisco and hiked one of the trails recommended in the article, had lunch, and made it back to Denver in the late afternoon. I’m hoping more people give the new shuttle to the mountains a try, as we loved the opportunity to head up Interstate 70 sans car. And while the shuttle was stuck in Sunday afternoon traffic, we played video games and read books.

Laureen Trainer, Denver

Jan. 6 panel doing good work

Re: “Committee: [Thursday] Hearing to show Trump’s ‘dereliction of duty,’ ” July 18 news story

The Jan. 6 committee is doing a superb job of telling the story of an attempted coup in a logical, straightforward way without the usual grandstanding of congressional hearings. They show respect for each witness (mainly Republicans who were Donald Trump supporters, allies or administration officials).

The challenges to the testimony from the former president and his allies who are still obstructing the hearing have been petty, inconsequential and do not impact the arc of the story being told.

The one remaining question in my mind is the connection between the Trump White House, the Willard war room characters, rally organizers and the conspiring militias. It may require the Department of Justice to be able to connect those dots through legally enforceable grand jury subpoenas and testimony.

The DOJ needs to get on the case!

Kevin P. Mindenhall, Denver

Powering up solar panels shouldn’t be this difficult

What can be done to get more solar energy in Colorado? First, the process needs to be streamlined. Currently there are too many hands involved in the process, with owners of these hands saying different things. While they make excuses, panels sit on roofs without generating energy.

My partner and I have taken steps to install solar panels on two houses. The first house was in Denver in 2020. After installation, it took six weeks for all the right people to show up and give permission to flip the switch.

The next installation was on a house in Lake County in 2021. The time from installation to permission to turn it on was three months. There are not many people who would let $24,000 worth of equipment sit on their roof idle — including all the people who were involved in giving permission.

This delay is a barrier to people adopting solar energy and speaks to why the U.S. only has solar installed on 1 in 20 homes. On the Lake County install, Xcel Energy utility said there was a sheet of paper that lists the 12 steps for approval. This “sheet of paper” is not readily available on their website and not a standard across the utility service area. No inspector from Xcel Energy or the county or otherwise spent more than 10 minutes on the property. A small multi-agency team should be able to keep up with demand in a timely manner. Let’s embrace solar energy.

Sue Hammerton, Leadville

Ignorance as an excuse

Re: “Judge quashes Peters’ arrest warrant,” July 16 news story

Back when I was much younger, the lesson passed along from my elders was “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Apparently that lesson is now null and void.

Ignorance seems to be a valid defense these days.

Arthur David Hubbard, Dacono

It’s not just Manchin disregarding our peril

Intense heat and wildfires are raging across much of the world and many rivers are at record low flows, all clear documentation that climate change is real and is happening now. Yet we seem incapable of seriously addressing this existential threat to our way of life.

Recently the Build Back Better Act, which would have included meaningful actions to deal with climate change, failed to get necessary political support. Most of the reaction to this failure focused on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s opposition to the legislation. While I shared disgust with Manchin’s position, it overlooks a much larger concern in that not a single Republican supported the bill. If only a handful of Republicans had supported the Build Back Better Act, Manchin’s opposition would have been negated, and we could have moved forward in dealing with climate change.

With the midterm election approaching, I hope all voters consider the candidates’ positions on addressing climate change. The longer we delay acting on this reality, the grimmer the future we all face. While concerns about inflation and high gas prices are understandable, we should not lose sight of the greater threat to our collective future.

Gene Reetz, Denver

Power not lost … redirected

Re: “Curbed by high court, EPA moves to a piecemeal plan,” July 8 news story

The Post seemingly has higher standards of accuracy for Open Forum letter writers than it does for publishing content from sources like the New York Times.

The lead reads, “After the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last week limiting the government’s ability to restrict the pollution that is causing global warming …” But the court’s ruling regarding the EPA does no such thing whatsoever. It merely redirects policy-making to the branch of government that we elected to make policy — Congress. It actually empowers lawmakers to do what they were hired to do and simply sets boundaries for the unelected and unaccountable administrative state.

You want to lower CO2 emissions and the pollution it causes? Get your representative to vote to ban gas-powered vehicles and air conditioners while they’re at it. Rather than “limiting” the government’s ability, the ruling strengthens it.

The Gray Lady Winked indeed.

Jon Pitt, Golden

Grateful for exhibit, gallery

Re: “Part exhibition, part oasis,” July 10 feature story

Thanks to Ray Mark Rinaldi for his excellent review of Trine Bumiller’s current exhibit, “Garden of Eden,” now up at the Emmanuel Gallery, on the Auraria Campus.

I appreciated Ms. Bumiller’s adaptation of the interior walls to make the art seem right at home, and Rinaldi’s telling of the fascinating history of the Emmanuel building: first as an Episcopalian mission, then a Jewish Synagogue, and now as this precious art gallery. So far as I’m concerned, it is a sacred place — and I’m going to revisit it ASAP.

As a historic preservationist, I am so grateful that this sturdy little building is still there and serving the community.

Linda J. Hargrave, Denver

Editor’s note: Hargrave is an archivist at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral.

Protect the existing trees

Re: “Lakewood has more than 600,000 trees; is that enough?” July 10 news story

I agree with Lakewood forester Luke Killoran’s tentative support for more trees in Lakewood, particularly along busy thoroughfares like Wadsworth Boulevard.

Planting is one thing, but maintenance is critical. It pains me to see stressed and dying trees in the metro area surrounded by concrete or compressed soil. The most conscientious policy is to preserve as many large trees as possible, which Lakewood tries to regulate, and to plant in riparian areas.

I also object to labeling Green Mountain Park and Bear Creek Lake Park as “not tree friendly.” These are natural areas and are what most of the metro area would look like if people did not live here. The proposed reallocation at Bear Creek Lake Park would destroy the riparian area.

C. Greenman, Lakewood

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