June is high season for weddings and Supreme Court opinions. The former are invariably memorable for a lifetime, whereas the latter may quickly be consigned to perpetual obscurity. This term’s blockbuster decision about wedding celebrations — vindicating the claim of Jack Phillips, the Colorado-based wedding cake artist — is now being dismissed in various quarters as a jurisprudential nothing-burger. All the Colorado Civil Rights Commission needed to do, it is said, was be nicer and more civil in rendering its “thou must serve all customers” mandate. By in effect vehemently condemning Phillips’ faith journey, the court concluded, the state agency had transgressed the bounds of tolerant discourse in a pluralistic society.

A letter from a grandmother of 10 to an advice column caught my eye recently. The grandmother lamented that none of her grandchildren bothered to acknowledge her on Mother’s Day. Now, given the fact that requiring grandchildren to contact their grandmothers on their special day might diminish the value of such contact, one would hope grandchildren might still be more sensitive and, of their own free will, be in touch. Must a child’s love and attention be centered only on his or her parents?

Can an American president be indicted? Can he pardon with impunity? Refuse to answer a prosecutor’s questions? Do the answers to these questions lie in legal precedents? Historical practices? The resolution is in something more fundamental: a decision on whether we have a president or a king.

Richard Painter is not your typical Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, even in my idiosyncratic home of Minnesota. For one thing, he is a Republican, or at least has been for almost all of his life. He served in the George W. Bush administration, in fact, as the chief ethics lawyer. On many issues, he holds conservative positions one might expect from a lifelong Republican who now works as a corporate law professor. Yet he might win, and it would be good for us all if he does.

If you’re reading this column in Waco, the odds are very good that you wish to take some action to combat anthropogenic climate change. I make this bold assertion because of the results of a recent Yale University poll: 54 percent of McLennan County residents believe that global warming is already harming U.S. citizens, while 64 percent believe that future generations will be harmed.

Hopefully, veterans spent part of the long Memorial Day weekend reflecting on the ultimate sacrifice made by fellow service members killed on the battlefield protecting our freedoms and way of life. For this, I am forever grateful. To fully grasp the significance of that solemn duty, we must understand that no one joined the military to die. For some, it was patriotic duty. For some, it was a family tradition, a heritage of serving. For some, it was the law by virtue of the draft.

Having never taken a monumental interest in the British Royal Family, I admit I wasn’t overly interested in awaking at 3 a.m. to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The idea of losing some sleep to even activate the television never entered my mind. The thought my invitation to the wedding never arrived contributed to my lack of interest even more.

Scott Pruitt is in my estimation the worst Environmental Protection Agency administrator ever. I base this on two things: As one supposedly dedicated to President Trump’s mission of draining the swamp, he’s instead wasted public monies on personal perks. Second, he’s obviously a tool of industry with the express goal of deregulating everything, no matter the facts, no matter the safety consequences.

With some Republicans supporting the addition of drug-testing as a requirement for food-stamp beneficiaries at the very same time some NRA champions support decriminalizing marijuana’s use for leisure purposes, the issue of drugs in America remains alive and well. And while drug-testing was not part of the farm bill that Democrats and far-right Republicans torpedoed this month, it may figure into the mix when revived.

Not long ago, I rediscovered a worn, first-edition copy of J. Frank Dobie’s “A Texan In England.” The book, a gift from my late mother-in-law, is a collection of essays and observations on British life by the legendary Texas folklorist from his 1944 stint as a lecturer in American history (and interpreter of all things Texan) at Cambridge University’s Emmanuel College in England.

Billy gloated over the price we’d paid for the 8-foot fluorescent light tubes for our church sign. He was frugal (to phrase it nicely) and triumphant when he struck a bargain. We had reminded the counter salesperson we qualified for a discount since we were a church and sales tax exempt and due a bulk rate price since we wanted 24 lights, enough to last a long time.

The number of job openings in the United States has topped 6 million for several months now, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, up about a half-million from a year ago and the highest the country has ever seen. Although the long years of high unemployment following the Great Recession make this welcome news, the United States may face major difficulties if unemployment drops too far or too fast. A certain amount of friction is needed to allow the economy to function.

The fifth anniversary of the West fertilizer plant explosion has now passed into history with excellent coverage by the press regarding the town’s recovery. That recovery is now said to be complete and is a testimony to the people of West and all who rallied to help them. Yet a much closer look should be taken at the material at the very root of not only the great taxpayer and business expense in West’s resurrection but the devastating loss of 15 cherished lives, including 12 first responders.

With his fourth exercise of executive clemency power, President Donald Trump has once again chosen to favor someone (Lewis “Scooter” Libby, chief of staff to former vice president Dick Cheney) who is connected and powerful. Meanwhile, none of the deserving federal prisoners with pending petitions — including many serving narcotics sentences that are now broadly condemned — have received a similar benefit.

Climate science has clearly determined that to maintain a livable planet the mean global temperature increase above pre-industrial levels must be limited to 2 degrees Celsius through rapid reduction of worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions. In the United States, the largest sources of emissions are electricity generation and transportation. In a previous Trib column I reviewed hybrid and battery electric cars. In this column I will discuss rooftop solar, using photovoltaic or PV cells, in Central Texas, incorporating my personal experience of 27 months.

Nostra culpa. We’ve given sparse support to the Trump administration since Donald captured the White House. His policies: incoherent. His character: fundamentally flawed. His leadership: divisive and corrosive. His appointees: corrupt and inept. Each tweet brings us a chirp closer to complete and utter catastrophe. It’s like a real-life episode of “24,” a race against the clock between nuclear war, economic meltdown and criminal indictments.

President Eisenhower once remarked: “The urgent things in life are seldom important and the important things in life are seldom urgent.” We’re all busy, but tonight many of us will set aside urgent tasks to attend a Holocaust Remembrance Service at Temple Rodef Sholom, 1717 N. New Road, beginning at 7. Deuteronomy 4:9 is the theme this year: “Take heed lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen and teach them to your children and your children’s children.”

A great and varied crowd enlivened Saturday’s March for Our Lives rally in Heritage Square. I was delighted that students had worked with others to organize this event. I was surprised there weren’t more teenagers and parents, but, quite frankly, I suspect people in Waco are sometimes afraid to show what they think and feel because of what they fear is the dominant culture and opinion. And that fear might go in either direction.

A verse in the Hebrew Bible explains that “A good name is better than riches.” All of us know someone in our life who defies easy description because they are special, unique, magical, delightful. And when we lose such folks, we often hear it said that their name will forever remain golden in our memories. This is more true of some than others.

In their March 22 column here, fellow Trib contributors David Gallagher and David Schleicher described the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in apocalyptic terms, variously referring to it as a “Category 5 storm,” a “constitutional crisis” and even possibly as “a second civil war” or “the sunset of democracy.” M.C. Hammer was quoted at length.

Six months ago, an American patriot and friend of Israel, retired Army General Vernon Lewis, invited Alice and me to accompany him as his guests on a 10-day trip to Israel. With our 30 new friends, including the former U.S. military commander in Iraq, several billionaires, a former NFL football player (Minnesota Vikings) and an immigrant family from Ecuador, we landed on March 1 at Ben-Gurion Airport, visited the haunting Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum) in Jerusalem, then headed north to settle into our quarters at a Christian retreat in Tiberias overlooking the beautiful shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Spring is in the air here, a reminder it’s been nearly three years since the deadly shootout at Twin Peaks that again brought to Waco the scrutiny of a nation. Whatever caused this motorcyclists’ melee just after high noon on May 17, 2015, there’s no doubt the saga since then was badly mishandled by McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna.

Back when I worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Doris Miller campus at Memorial and New Road, I’d leave the town of Golinda every day at 7:30 a.m. and return home about 5:30. And every day my canine family would line the fence and celebrate as if I’d been gone a year. The enthusiasm they exhibited morphed into everyday joy as I turned onto my street and began to look forward to the doggy delight at my long-awaited return.

You probably read about it. President Trump and the president of Mexico last week got into another fight by phone over this crazy wall upon which Trump built his 2016 presidential campaign. Enrique Peña Nieto was considering an official trip to the White House but Trump refused to publicly acknowledge Mexico’s position that it absolutely will not pay for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

You liberals, listen up! Your arguments against ownership of “automatic” (sic) weapons pale not because they spit out more than one or two rounds per trigger pull. Nor is it about the “size” of the weapons spitting out these rounds. Nor is it about the Framers of the Constitution not meaning “weapons of war”! Not at all! This is all about a lack of power due to the level of knowledge regarding such things as is provided by the National Rifle Association. It is, however, understandable that fear is a motivating factor because invariably people fear what they don’t understand. And given the horrific articles written by vastly liberal media outlets, it’s no wonder.

For those of us who pass by it in the months and years to come, the abandoned, 14-acre Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center campus in North Waco will stand as an enduring monument to cheap talk by state leaders when it comes to mental health. Every time a tragedy erupts involving someone who obviously has mental-health issues — mass shootings are common examples these days — a hue and cry goes up among lawmakers that government and society must aggressively expand access to improved mental-health treatment. And some of us take them seriously.

June is high season for weddings and Supreme Court opinions. The former are invariably memorable for a lifetime, whereas the latter may quickly be consigned to perpetual obscurity. This term’s blockbuster decision about wedding celebrations — vindicating the claim of Jack Phillips, the Colorado-based wedding cake artist — is now being dismissed in various quarters as a jurisprudential nothing-burger. All the Colorado Civil Rights Commission needed to do, it is said, was be nicer and more civil in rendering its “thou must serve all customers” mandate. By in effect vehemently condemning Phillips’ faith journey, the court concluded, the state agency had transgressed the bounds of tolerant discourse in a pluralistic society.

Republican leaders seem to be looking the other way as children are separated from their asylum-seeking parents at the U.S.-Mexico border — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Vice President Mike Pence and, till recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan, all of whom boldly declare their allegiance to President Donald Trump’s immigration reforms and to cracking down on those crossing our borders illegally.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

Thursday afternoon the Supreme Court of the United States convened briefly to observe the traditional ceremony of welcoming its newest member. The ancient cry of oye announced the eight members of the court. The new justice was seated in the historic John Marshall Chair with the president of the United States nearby. Like a civil wedding, the ceremony was short and sweet, with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reading aloud the formal commission.

A few years ago, I was asked to host a panel to address the problem of opioid abuse. It seemed like a fascinating topic and I readily agreed. One of the first people I reached out to was a local emergency room physician, Chris Johnson, who works at a hospital in an affluent suburb. What he told me was chilling: that a regular part of his day is spent dealing with those who have overdosed on opioids and those who are trying to scam him to get opioids.