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Rubbish court ruling ignores good jurisprudence

If you ever want to see an example of judicial activism that subverts the rule of law, look no further than a recent decision concerning judicial districting in Louisiana.

A few years ago, the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s chapter for Terrebone Parish sued state officials over the at-large districting system for elections in the state’s 32nd Judicial District. Although black population comes in at about two-ninths of the parish’s total, until recently elections had produced only white judges as winners. In this system, candidates run concurrently, choosing one of five slots, but the entire parish electorate votes for each.

Doing the math, that would mean, all things equal, a minority candidate would win one district. But that didn’t happen until 2014, after the suit’s filing. This history the NAACP alleged constituted deliberate discrimination – but not actually by those in the district. Instead, they had to claim the state’s officials conspired to keep black folk down, because the state’s majoritarian institutions and executive branch officials created and administer the current election system.


LA court intervention threatens religious freedom

It should worry those who prize religious freedom when a court defines the practice of a particular religion, as appears imminent in Louisiana.

That situation has come about from a ruling by state 19th District Judge Mike Caldwell in refusing to dismiss the Diocese of Baton Rouge from a suit brought by a woman claiming past sexual abuse by a parish member, now dead. She alleged that she told Fr. Jeff Bayhi about it in a confessional setting and further asserted he recommended that she do nothing.

The Louisiana Supreme Court last year ruled that Bayhi had no obligation to report to authorities any presumed credible evidence of commission of a crime against a child (she then was a minor) incident to communications under confessional seal. Church canon law mandates excommunication for any confessor who reveals any information obtained this way, or even to confirm that any encounter took place.


Idea TOPS significantly keeps LA students absurd

It’s time to retire once and for all the shibboleth that Louisiana in-state higher education tuition costs without widely-available and fully-funded Taylor Opportunity Program for Students awards drive students out-of-state.

Some families, and even administrators who should know better, interviewed in an article for the Baton Rouge Advocate asserted that essentially full funding of TOPS for this school year generally made the difference in students’ decisions to enroll in a Louisiana higher education institution instead of heading elsewhere. For academic year 2016, TOPS only paid around 70 percent of the full year’s tuition because the state did not fund it fully.

In the past year, the assertion floated around that partial funding caused students to look across state lines for their university degrees, which backers of covering the entire tuition amount this year utilized in support of their cause. But, in reality, such a claim hardly validly explains such motivations, yet may point to the real reason going out of state might prove tempting for some.


Appointed parish manager not a bad idea

All in all, not just Ascension but a lot of parishes in Louisiana could benefit from turning administrative functions over to a professional.

A citizens group, but whose leaders come from the business community, has started a movement in Ascension Parish to mothball the elected parish executive in favor of a manager appointed by the parish council. Almost half of the state’s parishes have an elected chief executive, with the others run by an appointee selected by their legislatures.

The organization claims that an appointed administrator could bring managerial competence to a job they see as unduly politically-influenced. That a state grand jury indicted Parish Pres. Kenny Matassa on bribery charges this spring only adds fuel to this argument. Those wishing to keep the current system, including Matassa, say that arrangement of divided government provides for greater accountability to the people.