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July 06, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-07-06

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Page 4-Thursday, July 6, 1978-The Michigan Daily
michigan mDAILY
Eighty-eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor; MI. 48109
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 37-S News Phone: 764-0552
Thursday, July 6, 1978
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
March for ERA
T IME IS RUNNING out for the women of
this country. Unless three more state
legislatures can be induced to ratify the Equal
Rights Amendment (ERA) before the March
1979 deadline, women's rights will not be
specifically protected by the Constitution, and
they will be at the mercy of judge and jury.
The prospects for short-term. passage are
doubtful but this is no time to concede defeat.
This Sunday thousands of women and men will
march in Washington, D.C. for ratification of the
ERA and, more immediately, for extension of
the deadline, and they have our enthusiastic
support. There is probably not sufficient time
remaining to gain approval from three more
states by the March deadline, but if it is extended
there is a good chance it will win.
Opponents of the ERA contend'
erroneously that a deadline exten-
sion would be dirty pool, if not
specifically illegal. Rigid deadlines
cannot be allowed to stand in the way of equal
rights, particularly when the Justice Depar-
tment has already stated that it is within the
Senate's authority to extend the deadline.
On Saturday night the Washtenaw County
chapter of the National Organization of Women
(NOW) will send a bus load of area residents to
the march, returning early Monday morning. If
you can spare the time and $35.00, we encourage
you to call 995-5494 or Iris Fauri at 971-7052 to join
the people who are lending their voices to a cause
that asks for nothing more radical than a just
constitution.
Editorials which appear without a byline
represent a consensus opinion of the Daily'
editorial board. All other editorials, as well as
cartoons, are the opinions of the individuals
who submit them.

Assault on civil rights

By Ken Parsigian
For ten years Congress has
been trying, with little success, to
revise the federal criminal code.
The issue had languished in
committee for several years
before the Nixon administration
finally brought it to the Senate
floor in the form of the notorious
S. 1 bill. At the outset, politicians
generally supported the bill, and
even staunch liberals such as
Birch Bayh were taken in byFits
superficial value. But several
public interest groups - notably
the American Civil Liberties
Union - were not duped, and
through their determined lob-
bying efforts it was defeated.
But, Phoenix-like, a new threat to
civil rights has risen out of its
ashes - Senate bill 1437/House of
Representatives bill 6869.
Like its predecessor, H.R. 6869
is an attempt to revamp the
federal criminal code, and it is
supported by many politicians
who spurned S. 1, including Sen.
Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), one
of the bill's cosponsors when it
passed the Senate in January.
But although cosmetic changes
have been made, H.R. 6869 is just
as dangerous asS. 1.
In a direct assault on the First
Amendment, the bill would
create new laws or expand old
ones in the following areas:
"Obstructing a Government
Function by Physical Interferen-
ce; Obstructing a Government
Function by Fraud; Hindering
Law Enforcement; Obstructing a
Proceeding by Disorderly Con-
duct; Making a False Statement;
Revealing Private Information
Submitted for a Government
Purpose; Extortion;
Disseminating Obscene
Material; Failing to Obey a
Public Safety Order; Liability of

an Accomplice and Engaging ina
Riot."
In addition to this ominous list
federal law would be greatly ex-
panded to allow most crimes to
be prosecuted as conspiracies,
attempts, or solicitations without
the present requirement that the
crime itself has been committed.
One off-cited scenario depicts a
citizen prosecuted for "soliciting
the obstruction of a government
function by physical interferen-
A direct assault on
the First Amendment,
H.R. 6869 is every bit
as dangerous as the
old S. 1.
ce" merely by trying to persuade
a friend to join in a demon-
stration that involved blocking
access to a government building
- even if the friend declined and
the demonstation never took
place! Had such laws been in ef-
fect in the 60s, it is likely that
thousands of civil rights and anti-
war demonstrators Would have
been imprisoned. The movemen-
ts themselves would certainly
have been severely weakened.
The bill would also undermine
the Sixth Amendment in that it
minimizes the role of juries in
trying criminal cases. For exam-
ple, the new offense of "ob-
structing a government function
by physical interference" is
normally a misdemeanor unless
it was "committed in the course
of a constitutionally protected ac-
tivity, was non-violent, and did
not significantly obstruct or im-
pair a government function."
Under H.R. 6869 the judge, not
the jury, would make the decision

on these critical isshes.
The bill also authorizes for the
first time "preventive detention"
of persons charged with murder,
rape, kidnapping, armed robbery
and drug trafficking. Also, the
bill reactivates the Logan Act
which bars private individuals
from discussion of U.S. foreign
relations with foreign officials,
and expands the federal ob-
scenity laws along the repressive
lines set by the supreme court
when it gave individual com-
munities the right to define obsc-
enity.
Another fault of the bill is that
is would lead to longer prison sen-
tences since the government
would have the right to, apeal
lenient sentences. The bill would
also cut back "good-time"
allowances to prisoners, and
would permit judges to dismiss
the possibility of parole for the
entire length of the sentence.
The biggest problem is that the
bill does have some good section-
s, which gives it broad-based
support. It eliminates several of
the more obious flaws in the old S.
1, most notably the broader ap-
plication of the death penalty. It
also improves the definition of
rape and expands many of the
civil rights laws. But the cost of
these gains is far too high to
justify passage of the bill. In-
stead, the House should reject
H.R. 6869 outright, but incor-
porate its more sensible sections
in a new version of the bill.
Ken Parsigian is a co-
director of the Daily's
editorial page.

;

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Israeli court mocks justice
To The Daily: ment to convert Sami's two week trip to Libya for
The family of Sami Esmail does not recognize menturosofer m'lometitoaLibfor
the verdict of guilty given to him by an Israeli Court ,terrprstraining s asoml elyint dbogli fg
on June 7, 1978. We are outraged and shocked that For Israel to have Sami in Libya on September 4,
a person can_ be found guilty without a shread of 1976 in a Hebrew confession (Sami does not know
evidence presented other than a "confession" ob- Hebew) when in fact he was in Columbus, Ohio at
tained under physical and psychological torture to that time speaks for Israeli's credibility.
say the least. We know Sami much better than the (Congressman Bob Carr has informed us that Sami
Israeli government and we are absolutely positive signed an apartment lease in Columbus on August
that he was not a member of any guerilla 31, 1976). In an editorial to the New York Times on
organization. We believe that his so-called "crime" June 2, 1978, two professors of law, Freedman and
of membership in an illegal organizaion was a total Dershowitz, state that Sami's brother Basim was
fabrication.by the government of Israel as an ex- allowed to visit him two days before he "confessed"
cuseto convict him, and thus to set an example to when infact Basim was not allowed to see him until
discourage other Palestinian-Americans from ex- one day after he "confessed." The distortion of this
pressing their political solidarity with their op- fact along with many others in their article shows
pressed and homeless fellow Palestinians. how far they had to go to try to defend Israel and its
We can never forgive Israel for denying Samni the inhumane treamnofispsne.
sacred right of being with one's dying father the last nh etratment of its prisoners.
crucal ays.Forits nterogtorsto urthr sate On the basis of ourdirect observation of the Israeli
crucial days. For its interrogators to further state criminal-justice system in Sami's case we can only
that Sami did not really care for his dying father come to the same conclusion that thousands of other
(whom they say is not worth 10c) is absolutely families of Palestinian prisoners have arrived at,
atrocious. Their denial of torturing Sami is to be and that is that Israeli Courts are no different-than
believed as much as their denial of a well-_ kangaroo courts and their trials are held mainly for
documented article which appeared in the sunday foreign consumption. Rep. Robert Carr (D) of
London Times on June 19, 1977 which charged Israel Michigan is quoted as saying, "You have to wonder
with systematic torture of Palestinian prisoners if he was to confess freely, why it took so long for
sponsored at the the government level. him to decide in a sense to hang himself, and you
Upon graduation from Michigan State University have to wonder why a U.S. citizen was held without
in 1976 Sami visited Libya to investigate em- charge for almost a month." We only wish that the
ploymentopportunities at the expense of the Libyan three judge panel that convicted Sami had won
Ara~hbnociist Party- panlmthtdcovictdySai ha won

JUNIOR CRAMBER
OF MA.E
CIAUVINIST
COMMERCE
BOWOEN

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