Roberts deserved bipartisan vote
John Roberts Jr. has been sworn in as the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
SENATORS Inouye and Akaka were among the 22 Democrats to cast votes against the confirmation
of John Roberts Jr. as chief justice of the United States, but their expressed reasons are likely to be dismissed as partisan hyperbole. Instead, they will be viewed as automatic nays when President Bush's next Supreme Court nominee comes before the Senate.
Both of Hawaii's senators said they voted against Roberts because of unanswered questions resulting from the Bush administration's refusal to release internal memoranda written by Roberts when he was principal deputy solicitor general in the Justice Department from 1989-'93. The solicitor general argues the administration's position in cases before the Supreme Court.
The Senate was provided tens of thousands of pages of documents made available from his years as an assistant to the attorney general and associate counsel in the White House under President Ronald Reagan. Roberts testified that those documents represented the administration's positions, which were not necessarily his own.
Senators naturally wanted internal memos from Roberts' days as deputy solicitor general, which would more candidly reflect his own views. The Bush administration kept a lock on those documents, maintaining that their release would have a chilling effect on legal discussions within the solicitor general's office.
The administration's position was supported in a letter signed by all seven living former solicitors general, both Democrats and Republicans, objecting to a Senate request for similar memos written by Miguel A. Estrada, Bush's nominee to the federal appeals bench. Estrada withdrew after Democrats blocked his nomination.
During his confirmation hearings, Roberts came across as a brilliant and congenial individual with a pragmatic approach to the law and a high respect for legal precedent. He properly declined to opine on issues that are likely to come before the high court. He did not come across as an ideologue, but senators who cast negative votes will be regarded as such.
If not at Kahe, then where?
Hawaiian Electric Co. shelved its plan for wind turbines above Kahe Point after Mayor Hannemann voiced his objections
THOUGH disappointed, officials of Hawaiian Electric Co. can't have been surprised about the opposition to the utility's plan
to put up wind turbines above Kahe Point.
With the Leeward Oahu community still prickly from an unsuccessful fight over the city landfill last year, there is little wonder that residents weren't pleased to accommodate another facility, particularly one some considered unsightly, in their neighborhood.
When Mayor Hannemann, reflecting the community's sentiment, joined the opposition this week, HECO knew it could not fight City Hall and folded its blueprint. But finding another site for its wind-power plant won't be easy as long as the public is unwilling to make the trade off to gain a source of renewable energy.
No one wants to pay more in cash and environmental costs to keep the lights on, and though alternative energy is popular in concept, no one wants the infrastructure for such power generation in their backyard, either.
Wind turbine projects have met opposition elsewhere, most recently in Massachusetts where a proposal off Martha's Vineyard has run into community resistance. But others in sparsely populated areas haven't. It is the human factor that snarls development.
HECO, which engaged in a long, expensive and contentious battle over power lines on Waahila Ridge a few years back, will now explore Kahuku, where it experimented with wind power in the 1980s, as a location. However, since that time, the land has been bought by the U.S. Army. Moreover, residents on the North Shore might be just as unwilling to welcome the turbines.
By law, HECO must produce electricity from renewable sources in percentages that increase through the next 15 years. In addition, demand for power will rise in pace with population and economic growth. HECO faces formidable challenges in reaching these objectives, especially if NIMBY dominates the agenda.