December 20, 2014
ISSUE | MAKING SAUSAGE Sharpened veto pen Even though there has been little mention of the line-item veto for a long time, its restoration would be the best thing Washington could do. Lawmakers currently add earmarks to bills, provisions that mean handouts for fat cats as rewards for campaign contributions. This results in a higher priority for reelection than to do what's best for the nation. It also wastes taxpayers' money and contributes to unsustainable budget deficits. The line-item veto would allow a president to veto wasteful earmarks.
December 10, 2014 |
The National Constitution Center has received a $5.5 million grant from the Templeton Foundation to create "a national Coalition of Freedom" designed to enhance awareness of the rights set forth in the nation's founding documents, Jeffrey Rosen, center president and chief executive, said Monday. The grant will fund creation of an online interactive Constitution, short story and essay contests for students, Town Hall-style debates at the center and other locations, and a contest challenging teachers to develop plans to increase constitutional literacy in their schools.
November 9, 2014 |
Another delay may be in store for a controversial new law allowing the National Rifle Association to sue over municipal gun ordinances. When Gov. Corbett signed the law Oct. 28, municipalities had 60 days to decide whether to repeal their ordinances or risk a costly lawsuit. But the clock was pushed back 10 days when it was discovered that Corbett had signed the wrong version of the law. Now, several leading Democrats are trying to delay the law further - or block it entirely - by challenging its constitutionality.
October 15, 2014 |
THE DECISION by Chairman William Green and members of the School Reform Commission to invalidate its long-standing contract with school district teachers, nurses, counselors and secretaries - in a meeting which was, for all practical purposes, closed to the public - is about issues much larger than money. Their decision represents a violation of the civil rights of those who educate our children, and signals another step in the almost casual obliteration of the rights of the many Americans who work in public service.
September 10, 2014 |
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a charter school case that has raised grave concerns among Philadelphia School District officials. The dispute, which is being watched closely by the charter community and others, centers on the powers that the School Reform Commission has to manage charter school growth in the financially distressed district. The West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School contends that the SRC illegally suspended parts of the state School Code to cap charter school enrollment and then threatened to close schools that did not sign agreements with enrollment maximums.
September 8, 2014 |
Jeffrey Rosen, author, constitutional law professor, and president and chief executive officer of the National Constitution Center, may have hit upon a novel idea. At a time when public debate over the central constitutional and political issues of the day has devolved into a dispiriting swamp of ad hominem attacks, misleading ad campaigns, and television shouting matches, Rosen says there is a public hunger for civilized, respectful conversation. Since taking over at the center last year, he has organized a series of public forums featuring prominent guests from the political right and left to unravel weighty and emotional issues, from gun control to the use of drone strikes, within the context of constitutional law. Give Rosen half a chance and he waxes rhapsodic about the nation's founding documents.
July 15, 2014 |
THOUGH it may not have made national headlines, last week a Senate committee voted on a resolution that could have major ramifications for our democracy. From where I sit, our democracy could certainly use some support. It seems to me that it's getting harder and harder for real people to vote, and easier and easier for corporations to buy elections. One of the main offenders pushing us in this direction has been the Supreme Court. From their 2010 Citizens United decision, which opened the door to unlimited corporate political spending, to their Shelby ruling last year, which gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, to their McCutcheon decision in April, which said yes, the super-rich can put even more money directly into political campaigns, the Supreme Court's conservative majority doesn't exactly seem to be on the side of "We, the People.
July 10, 2014
THE HEARTBREAKING and alarming news that one in five high school students is involved with either DHS or the juvenile justice system should be a wake-up call for systemic change. Even though we should never abandon these students or give up hope, the intervention that has the best chance of saving them must happen as early as possible. Blaming their dysfunctional homes as an excuse not to fund early intervention programs only exacerbates the problem. Meanwhile, many teachers apply for positions in urban schools at all levels for the purpose of making a difference.
June 13, 2014
MOST stand-up comics mine such topics as relationships and parenthood for laughs. But Colin Quinn has much bigger fish to fry. In 2010, Quinn, 55, debuted "Long Story Short," his hit one-man Broadway show that took a jaundiced - but hilarious - look at world history. Now, he's journeying through the past again with "Unconstitutional," which Philadelphia Theatre Company is presenting today through July 6 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. In case the title doesn't tip you off, "Unconstitutional" is a humorous examination of the four-page document - conjured here in Philly, in 1787 - that sets forth how America is to be governed.