The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 3, 2002 - 7
WASHINGTON (AP) - The
Supreme Court agreed yesterday to
decide how far states can go in restrict-
ing visits to prison in a case that could
further limit the rights of the 1.4 mil-
lion inmates now behind bars.
The Court - which has previous-
ly upheld limits on prisoners'
books, packages and visitors - will
decide whether Michigan prison
officials can ban visits by some
child relatives and former prisoners
and can prevent some inmates from
receiving anyone other than lawyers
Michigan imposed its rules in
1995. They were a response to sev-
eral visitation problems, including
one incident of child molestation
during a visit, state Attorney Gener-
al Jennifer Granholm said in her
The rules were thrown out by the
Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals, which said they
violated prisoners' First Amend-
ment rights. "The regulations fall
below minimum standards of decen-
cy owed by a civilized society to
those it has incarcerated," the
appeals court said.
Marc Mauer, assistant director of
The Sentencing Project, an advoca-
cy and research group that supports
alternatives to incarceration, said
family visits are important tools in
"We know having a supportive
family is one of the most critical
elements of successful reintegration
into the community," Mauer said.
"Generally speaking, we should be
very wary about placing any addi-
tional obstacles in the way of main-
taining those relationships."
The court is being asked to weigh
a state's ability to control its prisons
against the rights of inmates, a bal-
ancing act that in the past has tilted
in favor of government.
The decision will help clarify
which restrictions can be imposed
on the 1.4 million inmates in state
and federal prisons.
Supreme Court agrees
to tackle sodomy laws
WASHINGTON (AP) - The
Supreme Court reopened a homosexu-
al rights issue yesterday, agreeing to
decide a case that asks if it's unconsti-
tutional for states to punish same-sex
couples for having sex.
Justices will decide if Texas violat-
ed the rights of two men convicted,
under a rarely used state law, of hav-
The Supreme Court has struggled
with how much protection the Consti-
tution offers in the bedroom. The
Court ruled 5-4 in 1986 that consent-
ing adults have no constitutional right
to private homosexual sex, upholding
laws that ban sodomy..
The latest case gives the Court a
chance to overturn that decision and
strike down sodomy laws in Texas and
12 other states.
"I think most Americans would be
shocked that there are still laws like
this on the books," said the Texas
men's lawyer, Ruth Harlow, legal
director of the Lambda Legal Defense
and Education Fund in New York.
She said the latest census found
more than 600,000 households of
same-sex partners in America, includ-
ing about 43,000 in Texas.
Richard Ackerman, an attorney for
the California-based Pro-Family Law
Center, said he worried that the case
might energize efforts to recognize
same-sex marriages. He also said that
states should be given leeway to pro-
tect the public from the spread of dis-
eases like AIDS.
The court will consider: Is it an
unconstitutional invasion of privacy for
couples to be prosecuted for what they
do in their own homes? Is it unconsti-
tutional for states to treat gays and les-
bians differently by punishing them for
having sex while allowing heterosexual
couples to engage in the same acts
Sodomy is abnormal sex, and in
some states that's defined as anal and
oral sex. Nine states ban consensual
sodomy for everyone: Alabama, Flori-
da, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah
and Virginia. In addition, Texas,
Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma pun-
ish only homosexual sodomy.
States argue that the laws are intend-
ed to preserve public morals. They are
"We don't believe there's any funda-
mental right to engage in sexual con-
duct of this kind. There's a
long-standing shared cultural belief
that the conduct is wrong," William
Delmore, an assistant district attorney
in Texas, said yesterday. t
John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron
Garner were arrested in 1998 in
Lawrence's apartment, jailed overnight
and later fined under Texas' Homosex-
ual Conduct Law, which classifies anal
or oral sex between two men or two
women as deviate sexual intercourse.
The Supreme Court was told the
convictions would prevent the men
from getting certain jobs, and would
in some states require them to register
as sex offenders. They were arrested
after police responded to a false
report of an armed intruder in
Lawrence's apartment, called in by an
acquaintance of the men. Police
entered the unlocked apartment and
found the men having sex.
Lawrence and Garner were fined
$200 after pleading no contest to mis-
Over the past decade, state courts
have blocked sodomy laws in
Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mon-
tana, and Tennessee. A Louisiana
appeals court recently upheld that
state's 197-year-old law banning all
oral and anal sex.
The Supreme Court's 1986 decision,
Bowers v. Hardwick, involved a chal-
lenge of Georgia's law, which carried a
maximum penalty of 20 years in prison
for anyone who engaged in sodomy.
The case is Lawrence v. Texas,
LSA senior Kristen Ottinger studies at Amer's Deli on State
Street yesterday afternoon.
Continued from Page 1.
continue to progress and not regress."
Alger said a diverse student body allows students to
learn from each other inside and outside the class-
"What we're talking about is a matter of educational
quality for all students," Alger said. "That is an impor-
tant part of our mission."
He said the University's consideration of race does
not change the fact that all accepted students are aca-
"No student is shielded from competition with other
students because of their race," he said.
Former University President Lee Bollinger, who is
named as a defendant in the lawsuits, said a Supreme
Court ruling on the University's cases will be felt
throughout higher education.
"This is not a University of Michigan case ... it is
really about relationships between parts of American
society," Bollinger told The Michigan Daily.
"It is a matter of confronting the issue and settling it
- only the Supreme Court can do that," he added.
Continued from Page 1
in regards to race in admission was Regents
of the University of California v. Bakke
where the Court said race can be used in
admissions as long as it furthers a com-
pelling state interest and avoids quotas.
"Precedent is not cast in stone," Abraham
said. "What is judge-created can be judge-
He added that in terms of the use of race in
admissions, the precedent is so muddled it
does not mean anything anymore.
"For 25 years the courts have shied away
from drawing what Justice Ginsburg termed
the 'white line,"' Abraham said, adding the
Court has apparently decided today to "bite
the bullet" and address the issue.
Unlike inferences about possible Court
decisions, the procedural intricacies of the
Supreme Court are standard and relatively
Sources familiar with Supreme Court pro-
cedure said the Court will hear both cases
separately, most likely on the same day. Oral
arguments are normally given a one-hour
limit, with the time evenly divided so both
sides can present their case. The University
will be forced to decide how much of its 30
minutes it will all of the intervenors.
"They are sticklers on time," sources said,
adding that justices have been known to cut
attorneys off mid-sentence.
"The lawyer does start with an argument,
but rarely is uninterrupted," Georgetown Uni-
versity law Prof. Susan Bloch said. "What's
really decisive are the written arguments."
She said the University's arguments will be
tailored according to their knowledge of the
justices' previous voting patterns.
"They've been conscious of the Supreme
Court from the first day of litigation," she
said. "They'll try to convince the Court there's
no quota (system)."
The University will talk more about the
related constitutional issues, they said, and
less about the specific admissions plan. Both
sides will argue about what the 14th Amend-
ment's equal protection clause indicates with
regards to race in admissions.
In deciding to hear both the University's
Law School case and the undergraduate case,
the Supreme Court took an unusual step by
accepting the undergraduate case before the
6th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled on
The last time a case skipped the circuit
level and went straight to the Supreme Court
was United States v. Nixon that led to the
release of the Watergate tapes in 1974.
"It's an unusual circumstance, though the
6th Circuit engaged in unusual activity by not
(announcing a decision)," Culp said. "The
Supreme Court is simply not waiting for that
decision to come.
"There's now a clear schedule," Bloch said.
The exact date of argument will be
announced in January, and will most likely be
scheduled for March or April of 2003. On this
timeline, the Supreme Court is expected to
announce a decision by the end of June.
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