Local attorney Richard Peckham spoke recently at a meeting of the Wichita chapter of Republican Women United about state and national constitutional issues, including the recent Kansas Supreme Court Decision. About 60 people gathered to hear. After the luncheon, Peckham spoke with The Sentinel about some of the issues he feels are effecting Kansans.
Mr. Peckham attended law school at Western State University in southern California. He practiced law in Wichita area for more than 40 years, mostly civil law. His passion been adoption law and has placed more than 1,000 babies in good homes in the area.
What do you feel are some of the biggest threats of government overreach through the interpretation of the Constitution?
One of the biggest threats is that although we have three branches of government – the judges, the legislature and the executive branch – there is a fourth branch of government now, in what we like to call the “Deep State. It is out of the executive branch. You have all the administrative agencies that are now taking the place of what the legislators should be doing; and passing regulations, taxes, fees, all kinds of things that further complicate life for businesses and people. That’s one of the biggest threats.
Then you have the inclination, generally of the left, to press toward big government. Big government solutions to all problems, get away from limited government and take more of a power that belongs to the people in their daily lives, and control it by regulation. Those are big threats to the well-being of people and the economy.
What do you see as the solution for regulatory overreach? Would it be the legislature or the courts?
Both the legislature and the courts, well actually all three. President Trump, as you may know, has instituted a system of going through and chopping out many of these regulations that were put in place during the Obama Administration, that hog-tie businesses and hog-tie the people. They can do that administratively without going back to the courts.
The are other regulations that require that they go back to the legislature to get a ruling, but many of them are just simply put in place because of past/present administrations that just piled on more and more regulations. It gets to the point where the people are being ruled by these government agencies. For example, the Department of Agriculture or any other major agencies when they become so hidebound with regulations, and they begin to control our economy, and it is unhealthy.
What are some of the avenues for the individual to deal with this?
Two things, political pressure. One, call your representative, call your state senator your Senators both state and national, tell them what’s on your mind.
Organizations can put together papers on various issues, for example, the Americans for Prosperity. They can put together position papers. Then they can shoot those to the individual congressman and senators and make their feelings known. That’s really important. That’s the most powerful thing they can do.
So the question is, how do you get people interested enough to do something? Because they aren’t involved, many of them don’t even know who their representatives are, and don’t watch the news. So they don’t know.
Encourage people to get involved, study, know the issues and press the representatives. When Representatives get a whole lot of calls and letters in a particular direction and issue, they sit up and take notice. When they don’t get anything, they assume it’s not an issue.
How do concerned Kansans approach the topic of school funding?
They just have to be aggressive about it. In this country, there is a movement for charter schools. Charters are producing a tremendous result. One of the effects of a charter is if it does better results than the public school, it encourages the public school boards to begin to do better; to emulate and produce a better product. But, the left is dead set against those schools because they have less control over them. They are still under the state auspices, but they have less control and more freedom pressing. For the schools, especially in the urban areas, where kids are not getting a good shake, it is especially so important.
How detrimental is higher education toward the political philosophies of what young people are saying they “stand for?”
Do you have a week or so? (Laughs)
When you go to a public university now, it is populated primarily by probably ten-to-one easily Democrat professors and associate professors to conservative ones. The policies and all the chairs of those departments; economics, history, the different philosophies are all chaired by left-wingers. They work very much against any position of conservative values; smaller government, less taxation, they just work in the opposite direction. This is discouraging to many young people and their parents. Many young people will go to the schools and just remain silent. They have to in some cases, or they will get a bad grade if they give an opposing position. So encouraging those kids to not give up and oppress their views is important, but it is a huge conundrum in this country of what to do.
Another thing is they gain more economic power in these universities because they continue to jack up the tuition, and then they get more subsidies from the federal government. They get larger and fatter, and the ratio of administrators to teachers swamps them. So, what is happening really in terms of the life at the universities is far more involving the administrative process then the education process. That’s the direction that the whole thing is going. The detrimental effect is kids can’t afford to go to college because each year they’re jacking up the cost. When I left law school, my wife and I both worked and there was no debt. Now, these kids are coming away with $35,000-$40,000 worth of debt. If it is a professional school, they can easily have $100,000 in debt. It would take forever to pay that off, so it’s causing some kids not to go forward with four-year college, going to other forms of education. Many people are beginning to say not everybody needs to do a four-year college, so there is a process going on.
Are there any issues that you feel are not being addressed in the public square?
There’s a whole raft of them. Free speech is now a problem in the public square certainly in the universities and the university towns. You have a mindset that says; we don’t want to hear the opposing view. They will be physical and violent, that requires some work by the courts. You have a president now that supports freedom of expression. We haven’t had that in the recent past, so that has to change. You can’t leave a whole concept that deals with values, that I talked to these people about today, and silence them, so we need to encourage people to challenge the administrations; political administrations as well as school administrations.