06-25-2017  6:53 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Cooling Centers to open in Multnomah County Saturday, Sunday

Temperatures expected to climb into the upper 90s this weekend ...

Multnomah County Leaders Release Statement on Safety at Summer Events

Officials advise public to check in, have a plan and be aware at public events ...

Portland Musician, Educator Thara Memory Dies

Grammy-winning Trumpeter, composer, teacher died Saturday at the age of 68 ...

St. Johns Center for Opportunity to Host Meet the Employer Event June 27

Employers represented will include Mary’s Harvest and Del Monte ...

New Self-Defense Organization Offers Training to Youth in Multnomah County

EMERJ-SafeNow offers July classes for children ages 8-10 and youth ages 15-19 ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Our Children Deserve High Quality Teachers

It’s critical that parents engage with educational leaders and demand equal access to high quality teachers ...

Civil Rights Groups Ask for Broad Access to Affordable Lending

Charlene Crowell writes that today’s public policy housing debate is also an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and...

Criminal Justice Disparities Present Barriers to Re-entry

Congressional Black Caucus Member Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) writes about the fight to reduce disparities in our criminal justice...

Bill Maher Betrayed Black Intellectuals

Armstrong Williams talks about the use of the n-word and the recent Bill Maher controversy ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says the nation's highest court would benefit from more geographic diversity among its justices and should hold some sessions outside of Washington, D.C.

Thomas' comments came in a speech to University of Nebraska-Lincoln law students Thursday and were reported by the Lincoln Journal Star. Thomas, a Georgia native who has worked in Washington, D.C., since 1993, said the court would benefit from a more balanced geographical mix that "reflects the fact this is a big country, not just the Northeast."

"There's nobody from the Heartland," said Thomas, who visits Nebraska periodically because his wife's family is from the state.

Five of the nine justices have strong ties to Boston, New York and central New Jersey. Chief Justice John Roberts is a Midwesterner raised in Indiana, but he went to college and law school at Harvard and has spent his entire professional life in Washington. Three justices were born or raised in New York City - Brooklyn-born Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Antonin Scalia, raised in Queens; and Bronx native Sonia Sotomayor.

The court's ties to the Northeast could strengthen when Justice John Paul Stevens leaves the court at the end of this term. Stevens is a Chicago native and the only justice who didn't attend an Ivy League law school.

Thomas also told the Nebraska law students that it would be a good idea for the justices to occasionally hold sessions outside of Washington.

"I think it would serve us all to move around the country," Thomas said.

A Northwestern University law professor, Lee Epstein, has begun to look at whether there's any correlation between geography and voting patterns in Supreme Court cases. Her research is at a preliminary stage.

University of Notre Dame Law School professor Richard Garnett told The Associated Press he's not bothered by the lack of geographic diversity on the Supreme Court because he thinks the justices' skills are more important than their roots.

"We are well-served if the justices of the Supreme Court are well-trained, able, thoughtful lawyers," said Garnett, who believes the current panel fits that.

Thomas spent roughly 90 minutes answering student questions during his visit. He told the group that the court is being asked to play too big of a role in the nation's governance. Currently, he said too many of the difficult decisions are being left to the courts to decide.

"The really hard calls ought to be made by citizens and their political leaders," Thomas said.

Thomas was appointed to the court by Republican President George H.W. Bush, and he took his seat in 1991.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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