The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

June 28, 2012
Editorial: John Roberts leads court in saving health care act

California can proceed, without skipping a beat, in implementing the national Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the landmark legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010.

This state and nation can and should proceed with enrolling the millions of uninsured and bringing health care costs under control. Congressional Republicans should drop their effort to repeal the act, although they won't. The fight now moves to the ballot box.

The U.S. Supreme Court today rightly upheld the law. The individual mandate, requiring Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty so they don't shift costs to others, stands. The court's limits on the expansion of Medicaid only apply to states that don't want to participate, so California can proceed.

The 5-4 division in the court on this decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts as the tiebreaker, reveals that the high court is as divided as the American people on the boundaries of powers between the federal government and the states -- and the role of the court itself in policing those boundaries.

That conversation clearly will continue.

But in upholding the law passed by Congress and signed by the president, the chief justice wrote an elegant opinion for the ages on judicial restraint, properly understood.

He made it clear that the court should allow the people of the United States through their elected branches to make decisions, writing:

"Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation's elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them."

Roberts concluded: "It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."

People who don't like the Affordable Care Act can go to the polls in November and elect people who promise to change it, as can those who support it. For now, however, the court has upheld a landmark law, and that is a good thing for the nation, and for California, the largest health care market in the nation.

June 6, 2012
Editorial: Twin Rivers school board must deliver

Voters in the troubled Twin Rivers Unified School District want change. Their votes on Tuesday clearly signal that.

Three of four incumbents up for re-election appear headed toward defeat, although late votes are still being counted. In a fifth contest, the incumbent did not seek re-election, and a challenger unaligned with either of two competing factions in the district won the seat. In addition, voters handily approved a measure to change the method of voting in Twin Rivers from at-large to district elections.

When the newly elected board takes office, four of the seven members -- a majority -- could be new to the board. Three of the four new members and incumbent Cortez Quinn, who appeared headed toward re-election, were members of a slate that challenged the former board majority.

Assuming the numbers hold up, this new majority now faces the daunting task of healing bitter divisions that have beset Twin Rivers since it was formed four years ago. Their first order of business will be to hire a new superintendent who can rebuild trust, while keeping the district solvent and moving forward in a challenging economic environment. The district also must deal with an ongoing investigation of its police department.

Meanwhile, two board members face their own trust issues. Late in the campaign, it was disclosed that Michael Baker, the new District 1 Trustee, apparently lied about holding degrees from the University of Nevada. Even more serious, District 5 Trustee Quinn is embroiled in an embarrassing paternity suit involving a district employee, and is accused of borrowing money from the employee.

Those are unfortunate distractions that must not be allowed to disrupt the district's urgent business of educating kids. During their campaigns, the candidates made elaborate promises about ending the feuding, building enrollment, improving student achievement and increasing graduation rates.

Now is the time to deliver.



About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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