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Looking Back: Past opinions add perspective

Looking Back reviews opinions published in The Spokesman-Review during this week in history.

Seeing Reds, Oct. 1, 1956

An S-R editorial worries that the Supreme Court won’t hold steady in the coming term when it comes to fighting communism.

“At least two of these cases involve the long efforts of the Communist Party in the United States to get rid of the 16-year-old law that has been of major help in hamstringing the work of the red subversives who have plagued this nation. This law is the Smith Act, passed by Congress in 1940. It makes it a crime to conspire to advocate or teach the violent overthrow of the government.”

The Smith Act was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1951.

The editorial continues: “This is one reason why President Eisenhower’s latest appointee to the bench is expected to receive close scrutiny when his name comes before the Senate for official confirmation next January.”

Campus radicals, Sept. 30, 1966

An S-R editorial took aim at what he feared was the decline of a great university:

“Dr. Max Rafferty, California’s superintendent of public instruction … has termed the University of California a sanctuary for odd birds, which looks ‘more like a skid road than a great university.’

“He noted that a campus visitor finds ‘dirty magazines and books, a booth for students to give blood to the Communist Viet Cong and a signup booth for the Saturday night LSD orgy.’”

The editorial concluded: “It is a sad thing when a great university is permitted to suffer the devastating loss of prestige that has resulted at Berkeley in the last year or two.”

Drive 55, Sept. 27, 1976

The 55 miles per hour speed limit was the focus an an S-R editorial.

“Arguments in favor of liftin the 55-miles-per-hour speed limit are being raised more frequently, though not necessarily more convincingly. And surprisingly, the latest person to put forth reasons the limit should be raised is Washington’s State Patrol Chief Will Bachofner.

“Chief Bachofner’s argument is that the motoring public just does not believe in the fuel saving theory and it is up to the federal government to convince them or not require them to drive more slowly. Studies show only 49 percent of the state’s drivers obey the speed limit. Law enforcement problems occur when more than 15 percent of the public ignores a law, so the State Patrol has a real problem on its hands with the speed limit violatiers.”

It concluded: “To raise the speed limit because of the chief’s argument, however, would be to overlook a reason much more convincing that the saving of fuel. National statistics continue to show lower death tolls since the slower speed limits became law. This saving of life is reason enough for slowing the motorist’s hurried pace.”


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