Archive for April 16, 2012
Iowa talk-show hosts are a pretty small club. The corporate-owned “public” airwaves carry nationally syndicated crazies who are to the right of Genghis Khan. Local right-wing talkers – Mickelson, Conway and Deace – get paid handsomely to beat up on gays, the poor, minorities immigrants, women, teachers, etc., while defending the right of Corporate America to act with impunity.
Before we got dumped by the Very Big Media Conglomerate, Bradshaw and I – the Iowa talkers on the left – got paid minimally (Bradshaw) or actually shelled out big bucks to be on the air (me – yeah, I really am dumber than I look).
Now, we innovate. We create new opportunities for other local voices. We work to bring balance to the conversation. We do an end-run around the corporate interests that want to silence the voices of dissent, Soviet-style. It’s a work in progress, but the first two weeks of online shows went very well, and I thank all of you who listened and called-in.
Monday, Bradshaw is on the Fallon Forum with me! Over the weekend, we were discussing content and were reminded about how many things we disagree on: nuclear power, the recent court ruling on political attack ads, how to “fix” the Democratic Party, Star Wars’ cultural value (or lack thereof). Bradshaw is wrong on all these issues, wrong meaning . . . he doesn’t see it my way. (Oops, sorry, I had a brief Mickelson/Conway/Deace moment there.) So call-in today and help me tell Bradshaw why he’s all kinds of misinformed.
Tuesday – Thursday, much of the week’s programming is in flex mode, subject to breaking developments at the Iowa Statehouse and elsewhere. Let me know if you’d like additional notification of program updates as they develop, which I announce in a brief daily e-mail called, appropriately, Fallon Forum Daily Notice.
Friday, I’m speaking at the Restoring Freedoms Conference in Scranton, Pennsylvania, so Dr. Charles Goldman and his brother Dr. Stephen Goldman fill-in. According to an FDA consultant, there are more than 200,000 injuries and 2,000 deaths related to the use of various medical devices. And those are only the ones reported to the FDA. The response of federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle has been to make it even easier for the manufacturers to gain FDA approval of their often faulty devices. Stephen shares his perspective as a medical safety expert and former FDA Medwatch director.
So, join the conversation, Monday-Friday, online from 12:00 noon-1:00 pm on my website, and call in at 244-0077, or toll free (855) 244-0077. Video podcasts are available, too, and we’re working on getting the glitches out of the audio-only podcast option.
Thanks! — Ed
MARK S. CADY, the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, wrote the court’s landmark decision in 2009 in Varnum v. Brien, the same-sex marriage case. This is a speech he gave at Drake University in March 8, 2012 as part of the Iowa Constitution Lecture Series. You can read the complete text of Cady’s speech here. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120415/OPINION/120415003
Three events breathed life into this state’s constitution that were as important then as they are today. The first was our nation’s Civil War. Among the 76,000 Iowans who served the Union in the war were 287 black soldiers who began as volunteers and were later organized as the 60th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment. This group of men literally saved the day at the battle of Wallace’s Ferry in eastern Arkansas, along with the lives of hundreds and hundreds of Union soldiers. These soldiers were recognized for their bravery and courage following the Civil War, and strong support for various forms of racial equality quickly followed.
In his 1866 inaugural address, Governor (William) Stone asked, “Have we that degree of moral courage which will enable us to recognize the service of these black veterans and do them justice?” Our Legislature promptly answered the question by proposing five amendments to the constitution to remove the word “white” from the suffrage clause, the census enumerations, Senate appointments, House appointments, and military service. In 1868, the public overwhelmingly approved the equal rights amendment with 57 percent of the vote.
The second event was in 1867 when Susan Clarke was denied admission to a neighborhood grammar school in Muscatine because she was black. The school board of Muscatine claimed it was empowered under the constitution and a statute to require her to attend a segregated school. The school board’s position was aligned with the understanding of the authors of the constitution, which rejected integration as a right and only allowed integrated schools at the discretion of local authorities.
Notwithstanding, the Iowa Supreme Court saw the claim of equality as something different than originally intended, holding that government had no discretion to interfere with school equality. Although the constitutional convention had rejected a provision that would require all schools to be “equally open to all,” the Iowa Supreme Court relied on the broader constitutional principle of equality and the meaning of that concept that had come into focus by 1868.
The third event was five years later in 1873 when Emma Coger was denied dining accommodations on a steamboat in Keokuk because she was black. It was the custom of the day for blacks to eat in a pantry area separate from the whites-only dining room, although Coger had paid for a ticket that included meals. The Iowa Supreme Court held that the constitutional principle of equality required black passengers to be given the same rights as white passengers, and that inferior dining accommodations did not satisfy the principle of equality written into the Iowa Constitution.
These three events are important for Iowa today as we increasingly hear the clamor of the larger debate over the proper approach for courts to follow in interpreting the text of the Iowa Constitution today, particularly when those interpretations involve the core principle of equality.
One theory of constitutional interpretation is that the constitution should be treated as a living document, so to speak. This approach maintains the constitution was designed as a foundation for a society to grow within its established belief system in a manner consistent with the increasing knowledge and understanding of the world.
The other view of constitutional interpretation is that the text of a constitution should be interpreted as it was originally understood at the time it was drafted and ratified. This view essentially recognizes the constitution as law that has a fixed and determinative meaning, as with statutes, and must be interpreted in that manner by courts.