If you have ever wondered if there would be dueling 'far-right' headlines in Arkansas -- we have had them the last few weeks.
There was this apparent "coddling" of Tom Cotton, the junior U.S. Senator from Arkansas, (and some other safe, conservative, far-right thinkers) for a post on the United States Supreme Court by the man who occupies the White House.
In a year when his re-election to the U.S. Senate is all but a fact, as Cotton has no credible or known candidates in the race for his re-election, maybe the junior, and very young senator is tired of "waiting his turn" to control the U.S. Senate.
He has flirted with a cabinet position in the current administration -- one I wish Cotton would have taken, and thus had to abdicate his U.S. Senate seat. But alas, he did not.
Now with a very limited, and I mean extremely limited law practice or even thinner resume of courtroom practice, he is being mentioned by the man in the White House for a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Sen. Cotton may indeed have a very nice formal education in the law and he states again and again he can "read" our Constitution -- most sixth graders too can read the constitution.
Let's be frank, Tom Cotton is not U.S. Supreme Court material.
There are Tom Cotton believers out there -- and there are plenty of them -- who will argue he is the perfect fit for this court. He has already said the magic words "Roe V. Wade," that so excites both ends of the political spectrum.
This past week, five sitting state senators and 13 members of the state House of Representatives filed a lawsuit seeking to end the public health emergency declared by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The oddity in this lawsuit filing is that all 18 are Republicans. And don't forget the governor is a Republican too and supposedly the titular head of the state party.
If ever one would be pondering who in the Legislature is to the 'far-right' of our state's conservative leader, well, now we know.
Strangely absent from this list is Benton County's frequent critic of anything he doesn't like -- state Senator Bart Hester. The senator, for those who do not know, is involved in trying to get his little brother, Brian, elected to a state House spot in Fayetteville these days.
Another state Senator absent without leave (AWOL) on this list is Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway, who recently was hospitalized for covid-19. While an all-out opponent of most government-based healthcare programs, it is strange not to see the Rev. Rapert on the list.
On the list of 'far-right' senators (all Republicans) thinking the governor has exceeded his powers in this pandemic are Sens. Bob Ballenger of Hindsville, Alan Clark, of Lonsdale, Terry Rice (no relation) of Waldron, Gary Stubblefield of Branch and Kim Hammer of Benton.
No real surprises in regard to this bunch being opposed to the emergency powers. Most are also opposed to the wearing of masks mandated by the governor and his health advisors.
Over in the House of Representatives, the 15 members (all Republicans) who joined the suit are Dan Sullivan of Jonesboro, Mary Bentley of Perryville, Steven Meeks of Greenbrier, Josh Miller of Heber Springs, John Payton of Wilburn, Marcus Richmond of Harvey, Laurie Rushing of Hot Springs, Brandt Smith of Jonesboro, Richard Womack of Arkadelphia, Harland Breaux of Holiday Island, Justin Gonzales of Okolona, and Nelda Speaks of Mountain Home.
A footnote on root cause in this action is that firebrand Sullivan did not get the governor's support in a spring primary against Sen. John Cooper, also of Jonesboro. Sullivan won that race and is headed to the state Senate come January.
Will these conservatives win the lawsuit?
I hope not. But now we know who they are, and I know they really do not get it when it comes to the pandemic.
As of this last week, more than 900 Arkansans have died from covid-19. By the time the paper is printed 1,000 deaths will not be far off if this number is not surpassed.
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Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.