Friday, June 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: High court ruling puts public health at risk

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow last week to public health, victims' rights and institutional accountability with a ruling that could clear the way for greater contamination of the nation's natural resources. The court ruled that landowners in North Carolina had missed their deadline under state law to sue a company they say poisoned their drinking water. The ruling is also a setback for Marine veterans who are seeking similar claims against the federal government over contaminated water at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune. It is a reminder that Florida and other states must act to protect public health and the environment and not rely on federal backstops.

The decision came in a case against CTS Corp., an electronics manufacturer that operated a plant in Asheville from 1959 to 1985. The company sold the land in 1987, and the new owners later alleged that their water had been tainted by chemicals, including trichloroethylene, that can cause health problems from birth defects to cancers.

The landowners filed a lawsuit in 2011, two years after learning of the contamination. But that was 24 years after CTS sold the property, and North Carolina law bars lawsuits in these cases to no longer than 10 years after the contamination occurred. The Supreme Court's 7-2 opinion reversed the decision by a divided appeals court, which found a federal law allowing for pre-emption of the state timetable to be ambiguous.

Limiting damage claims to a 10-year window regardless of when victims learn of the environmental damage is an invitation for big institutional polluters to hide their tracks. It's not fair or even sensible, given how long it may take people to show signs they were harmed by chemical contamination. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was right in her dissent that the decision would give polluters an incentive to run out the clock rather than to clean up toxic contamination "before it can kill."

Though thousands of Marines and their families are pursuing claims about tainted water at Camp Lejeune in separate cases, Monday's ruling upholding the North Carolina law is a setback and a clarion call for the federal government to do right by these military families. Up to 1 million people, including about 20,000 from Florida, were exposed to cancer-causing chemicals in the base's water from 1953 to 1987. A study in February found that veterans of the camp in the 1970s and '80s died of cancer 10 percent more often than those at a Marine base with clean water. The high court hasn't helped, but the Obama administration still has a responsibility to care for these veterans. And states have an obligation to make a priority of protecting public health from toxic pollution.

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Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18