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July 01, 1992 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1992-07-01

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4- The Michigan Daily Summer Weekly - Wednesday, July 1,1992

420 Maynard Street


Unsigned editorials represent the opinion
of a majority of the Daily's editorial
board All other cartoons, signed articles,
and letters do not necessarily reflect the
opinion of the Daily.

Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Edited and Managed by
Students at the
University of Michigan

The Supreme Court hits home
Roe vs. Wade intact for now, but the Court upholds Three rulings uphold basic but endangered tenets of
restrictions on women's fundamental right to choose the Bill of Rights; Court strikes down segregation
First of two editorials clinics that regularly perform abortions. For In a series of recent decisions, the Supreme public schoolmay notinvite areligious figureto
n a stunning 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court poorwomen whomusttravellong distancesand NCourt has confirmed its commitment to free- give anon-sectarian invocation and benediction
'reaffirmed the basic tenet of Roe vs. Wade, then wait24hours, theprocessof takingtime off dom of speech and the separation ofchurch and at graduation ceremonies. Justice Anthony Ken-
guaranteeing the fundamentalrightof women to from work and spending two days away from state. These rulings come as a welcomed sur- nedy wrote for the majority,"The Constitution
choose to have an abortion and have complete home can be a serious obstacle in obtaining an prise from a court that had been suspect on civil forbids the state to exact religious conformity
control over their bodies. At the same time the abortion. The ruling suggests that the justices libertarian issues. These recent rulings provide from a student as the price of attendingher own
Court affirmedfouroutoffiveharshrestrictions think that women cannot make rational deci- aglimmerofhopethattheBushadministration's high school graduation."
ofthe Pennsylvania Abortion ControlAct.Only sionsconcerning theirbodies;instead,theyneed desired policies, which tend to be out of step In so ruling, the court rejected the admin-
six years earlier the Court had found these a"cooling offperiod"to with those of the citi- istration's attempt to replace the three-part test
restrictions unconstitutional. The Court's deci- reflect on whether they zeus, will not be rub- which the court has used since 1971 to judge
sionrepresents amajordefeatforthepro-choice have made the right de- 6 6 i ber-stamped by a Court church-state separation cases. The current test
forces who have tried to prevent paternal and cision. that has been shaped by invalidates any law or government practice that
arbitrary restrictions on abortion. The one restriction In the last week before it 12 years of Reagan- primarily promotes religion, has no secular pur-
Theruling appears toinvalidateseveralmore that the Court did over-. Suprlmeet Bush appointments, pose, or involves excessive entanglement with
restrictive laws that will come before the Court tumn was a law that recesse, th urm Ourt tuled In a case that began religion. The Bush administration wante to
next term from Guam, Louisiana, and South forced married women on some of the most divisive issues inForsyth County,Ga., replace the three-part test with a "coercion" test
Carolina. Under the decision, at no point in a to certify that they had facing the nation. The Daily the justices ruled that which would invalidate government practices
pregnancy can states completely outlaw abor- informedtheirhusbands theoinnlocalcommunitiesmay promoting religion only if people who choose
lion; they can only placeserious restrictions. As of their desire tohavean dedicates opinion page to an not charge arbitrarily not to participate feelcoerced to do so.The court
Justice David Souter said, "It is therefore im- abortion. Evidently the evaluation of decisions on issues high fees for demon- correctly said that a high school graduation is a
perative to adhere to the essence of Roe's origi- Court does recognize that have touched everyone - from stration permits based "milestone"andstudents should not be forced to
nal decision, and we do so today." that there are some situ- on the content of the take part in school prayer. It is frightening that
In reaffirming Roe, the majority opinion ationsinwhichawoman speech to segregation. Next week, demonstrators' mes- tiis basic reaffirmation of the separation of
said, "Our obligation is to define the liberty of shouldcontrolher body the Daily will resume publishing sage. The ruling struck church and state was upheld by only one vote.
all, not to mandate our own moral code." In withoutoutsideinterfer- letters in addition to editorials down a law giving the With this reinforced separation of church
castingtheirdissenting votes, fourjusticeswere ence. However, the _ county administrator and state and protection of free speech, the
willing to ignore all past precedents and over- Court did not apply this broad discretion in set- Supreme Court, the First Amendment and the
turn Roe as a way of demonstrating their collec- concept to other aspects of Pennsylvania's law. ting fees based on the estimated cost of police nation all had a very good week.
tive oppostion to the rights of women to have an This decision allows states to force prospec- protection and administrative time. The Court U U
abortion. In the last major ruling on abortion, tive abortion patients to listen to and read propa- rightly ruled that an attempt to hinder controver- One should not overlook another important
Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services in ganda that is intended to change their minds; sial speech constitutes a breach of the right to decision handed down by the Supreme Court
1989,only Justice Antonin Scaliawas willing to these mandatory information sessions could free speech. Groups with unpopular opinions, last week. Ruling for the first time on a segre-
overturn Roe vs. Wade. It is important to note prove emotionally traumatizing. In addition, the such as the Ku Klux Klan, are now guaranteed gatedcollege system, the Court maintained that
that abortion rights are now as delicately bal- Court upheld the rights of states to require that the same access to public forums which other, the state of Mississippi had failed to provide
anced as the Court itself; the next justice to be teenagers receive parental consent before un- more mainstream groups enjoy. In doing so, the minority students the same educational oppor-
appointed to the Courtcould upset tip the sales. dergoing an abortion. Courthas reminded allofus that eachnAmerican tunities that white students have received.
In upholding the Pennsylvaniaabortion law Taken individually, these restrictions could has the right to voice an opinion, no matter how Both the Bush administration and civilrights
in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court be considered unobtrusive, but together they reprehensible, to the majority of citizens. groups, which fought for this ruling, have hailed
articulated a new standard for determining the represent a major obstacle to women - espe- Inathe same vein, the Supreme Court struck the Court's decision as a major victory for
constitutionality of state restrictions on abor- cially poor women -seeking an abortion. The down a St. Paul, Minn., ordinance prohibiting minorities. However, the Court overlooked the
tion.Theoldstandard, asstatedinRoe vs.Wade, Pennsylvania decision will not allow states to "hate speech."By upholding the right to express fact that traditionallyBlack colleges receive less
mandated that the state show a "compelling outlaw abortion, but it goes further than ever opinions even through such traditionally racist state funding than white colleges: while de-
interest" in forming restrictions on the removal before in allowing the states to set grave barriers practices as burningcrosses, the Courthas forced manding equal opportunities for enrollment, the
of viable fetuses. Now, under the new ruling, a to women getting abortions. In examining each numerous goveming bodies on the state and Court ignored fiscal inequalities.
pregnant womanmustdemonstratethatthestate- aspect of the case individually - as is usually local level to reevaluate existing statutes. In At the same time the Court ruled that aspects
imposed restrictions constitute an "undue bur- the Court's method - the justices were oblivi- addition, many of the nation's universities will of the Mississippi decision were suspect -
den" in the process of obtaining an abortion. ous to the problem that the law when taken as a be scrambling to modify their speech codes (see including the duplication of programs and dif-
One of the restrictionsupheld in the decision whole constitutes an unfair and undue burden. bottom edit). Like the Georgia case, this deci- fering admission standards at Black and White
was amandatory 24-hour waiting period before Next week: In light of the Supreme Court's sion justly reinforces the laws protecting free- universities. In correcting this segregated sys-
gettingan abortion.InPennsylvania,aprimarily decision, whatactionsshouldthepeople andthe dom of expression. tem, Black colleges should not be eliminated:
rural state, only eight of the 67 counties have government take to support abortion rights? In Lee vs. Weisman, the Court ruled that a they should be reinvigorated.


n a unanimous, landmark decision last week,
the Supreme Court ruled that legislatures or
universities may not ban religious, racial, or
sexual insults or threats as "hate speech." The
ruling on R.A.V. vs St. Paul explicitly invali-
dates large portions of the University's interim
policy on discriminatory harassment. The 5-4
majority decision reaffirmed the impropriety of
speech codes.
In addition to this university, there are ap-
proximately 100 colleges and universities that
have adopted speech codes regulating discrimi-
natoryharassment.Justice Antonin Scalia, writ-
ing the majority opinion, said that it is not
permissible for the government or a university
to judge the intent of a person who uses offen-
sive language.

Supreme Court decision on hate speech should
spell the end of speech codes at the University

The University does not need a code of non-
academic conduct. State and federal laws are
sufficient in protecting citizens from harm -
there isnoneed to oppress student rights further
by trampling on the First Amendment. While
the goal of protecting minorities from ethnic
intimidation is admirable, there is no benefit in
setting apart students from other citizens in
meting out punishment. If students are guilty of
assault or any crime motivated by hateful feel-
ings, they should be prosecuted under the law,
not by the University.

Of the 46 states that have hate crime laws,
most stiffen penalties when group bigotry is the
cause of criminal acts. The Court's ruling cast
doubts as to the constitutionality of these hate-
crime statutes in regard to their application vis-
d-vis the First Amendment. In the St. Paul case,
the defendants should have been prosecuted for
arson, trespassing, or other non-violent crimes,
not violations of the First Amendment.
The Court's decision has prompted the Uni-
versity to begin yet another rewriting of the
code, according to University General Counsel

Elsa Cole. However, Rod Smolla, a free-speech
expert at the College of William and Mary, said
the ruinug "makes almost all possible forms of
hate-speech bans unconstitutional" The fram-
ers of the code should bear in mind that the
proposed code must meet the strict standard
articulated by the Court, whose justices de-
clared, "We find that the ordinance is unconsti-
tutional in that it prohibits otherwise permitted
speech solely on the basis of the subjects ad-
In attempting to regulate speech on campus,
the University must adhere to the Court's guide-
lines on hate speech. To do less would violate
the law and disregard the value the Supreme
Court has placed on the First Amendment. Per-
haps it is time to scrap the code altogether.

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