Analyzing the legal options in the Proposition 8 case; what to do about "super PACs"; other option on healthcare reform

Prop. 8's legal future

Re "Same-sex marriage fight may hinge on 1 justice," Feb. 9

The Times' excellent analysis of a likely Supreme Court hearing on Proposition 8 omits one factor that might alter the bench's usual conservative-liberal split: the role of Theodore Olson.

As an influential member of the Federalist Society, his argument that marriage equality is fully consistent with conservative values may lead one or two of the group's members on the Supreme Court (perhapsJohn G. Roberts Jr.andSamuel A. Alito Jr.) into supporting the pro-civil rights side.

Reading John Eastman's quote, I'm appalled that a professor of law could assert that ending marriage discrimination would "put a stake in the heart of an institution" — the same argument behind anti-miscegenation laws.

The history of mixed-race marriages, as well as same-sex marriages in several states and countries, demonstrates the exact opposite: Admitting more people only strengthens the institution.

Randall Gellens

San Diego

Re "The legal path ahead," Opinion, Feb. 8

I have one question for Erwin Chemerinsky, since he avoided a serious pitfall in his argument against Proposition 8.

Can the new definition of marriage include three women marrying one man, a mother marrying her sterilized son or a sterilized sister marrying her brother? After all, isn't there room in our society to allow for all of these preferences?

Mike Bennett

Rowland Heights

Thanks to Chemerinsky for putting to print my long-held belief that "those who don't like the idea of same-sex marriage don't have to marry someone of the same sex."

While we're at it, those who oppose abortion don't have to have one.

Babette Wilk

Valley Village

911 misstep

Re "Frantic calls before fatal fire," Feb. 9

This article on the 911 call placed by a Washington state social worker just before a father killed himself and his sons made me sick to my stomach. The children's grandparents will never recover from their loss.

The 911 dispatcher told the social worker that law enforcement officers "have to respond to emergency, life-threatening situations first."

When the dispatcher was informed that the call was from a social worker, there should not have been a nanosecond's hesitation. It's outrageous that a social worker was interrogated about why she was calling.

These children should not have been in that house, period. The supervised visit should have been at a secure location. Even the social worker's life was in jeopardy.

Sandra Kelemen

Palm Desert

The lure of the 'super PACs'

Re "The trouble with 'super PACs,' " Editorial, Feb. 9

Though I would agree that the ideas that corporations are people and that money is speech seem far-fetched, they are the law of the land as defined by the Supreme Court.

Thus, it would be foolish for the Democratic Party to refuse to use so-called super PACs, standing on an ideal that is not endorsed by the law.

Politics is the art of the possible, and the law is what we agree to in a democracy. So it follows that there is no reason to refuse to act in accordance with the court's decision and establish liberal-oriented super PACs.

Don't bring a knife to a gunfight or you'll get killed.

Paul Moser

Studio City

President Obama had it right when he criticized the Supreme Court's ruling to allow unlimited political spending by corporations and unions. His characterization of the Citizens United decision as opening the floodgates to special interests seemed right on.

Now he has reversed himself by supporting the super PAC that is working for his reelection.

Such strength of character and dedication to principle!

Timothy Lefevre


No other choice for Miramonte

Re "The Miramonte mess," Editorial, Feb. 9

As a parent and grand-parent, I fully agree with the editorial supporting the decision by the L.A. Unified School District's superintendent regarding the reassignment of all teachers and staff at Miramonte Elementary School.

I have been horrified to read the Miramonte story unfold on a daily basis. Where was the oversight?

Why were alleged victims told by staff members to stop lying? As a nurse, I was always taught that children tend not to make up sexually-oriented stories unless they are being abused.

I think Supt. John Deasy had no choice but to follow the course he took. The safety of the children must and should come first.

Kerry Wiger


Leave it to L.A. Unified administrators to use a chain saw where a scalpel is needed.

Tim O'Brien

Eagle Rock

Paying for health insurance

Re "Justices hold key to health reform," Column, Feb. 7

One point David Lazarus did not mention is the fact that anyone who gets a paycheck in the private sector already pays a mandatory health insurance premium: Medicare taxes.

Plus, with the fact that emergency rooms are not allowed to turn anyone away and that we pay any shortfall on that expense, it's clear we have de facto universal coverage — but with a very messed up financing mechanism that distorts incentives to deliver appropriate care at reasonable prices.

No wonder we spend about 17% of our gross domestic product on healthcare.

I am a conservative on many issues and believe free markets are generally more efficient than government mandates and controls. But in the case of medical care, we have decided that it is more like public safety, and we ought to find a mechanism that allows the delivery of care and that keeps the costs more rational.

W. Scott Tanner

Playa del Rey

One of the major roadblocks to universal coverage is writers like Lazarus and others who seem to want nothing less than a welfare program. A medical insurance plan without underwriting is a welfare program.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has proposed a workable Medicare fix, as has Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Something like a Medicare Advantage program, run by private insurance companies with a needs-based voucher system, could solve much of the problem for those younger than 65.

Kevin Minihan

Los Angeles

Why nameless?

Re "Hollywood in black and white," Editorial, Feb. 7

How ironic that in an editorial that states, "As heartening as it is to see black performers recognized, true clout and access to big roles remain the real prizes yet to be won," there would also be this: "A black woman won the U.S. drama directing prize at the Sundance Film Festival for the first time" — with no mention of this woman's name.

She does have one, right?

Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis — they were mentioned. As were Tyler Perry and "Denzel and Will." By omitting this woman's name, the editorial relegates her to one of the "small roles," which is what it accuses Hollywood of handing out to black actors.

It would be real progress if this "black woman" were to be truly recognized by name rather than just as a tally mark in the black column.

Shari Hearn

Los Angeles

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