Justices hear Colorado gay-rights case
The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 11, 1995 - 7
WASHINGTON (AP) -
Colorado's solicitor general ran into
skeptical questions from several Su-
preme Court justices yesterday when
he argued the state's citizens have the
right to prohibit laws that protect ho-
mosexuals from discrimination.
"I would like to know whether in all
of U.S. history there has ever been
anything like this," Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg told the state's lawyer, Timo-
thy Tymkovich, who asked the high
court to reinstate the ban.
Tymkovich did not provide a spe-
cific example. But he argued that vot-
ers have the right to bar all state and
local laws giving homosexuals "spe-
cial protection" from bias in housing,
employment and public accommoda-
The case is the most important in-
volving homosexual rights to come
before the court in nearly 10 years.
In a 1992 referendum, 53.4 percent
of Colorado voters approved the
amendment to the state's constitu-
But the Colorado Supreme Court
invalidated the amendment before it
could take effect, saying it denied ho-
mosexuals an equal voice in govern-
Jean Dubofsky, lawyer for the cities
and individuals who challenged the
amendment, said it denies homosexu-
als a political right enjoyed by every-
one else - the chance to seek protec-
tion from discrimination.
Tymkovich said Colorado voters
approved the amendment in response
to the success homosexuals had in
winning enactment of anti-bias ordi-
nances in Denver, Boulder and As-
But Justice David Souter was skep-
"Why is discrimination against one
group dealt with under state law dif-
ferently than discrimination against
other groups?" he asked.
Justice John Paul Stevens added,
"What is the rational basis for the
people outside of Aspen telling the
people in Aspen they cannot have this
Justice Antonin Scalia appeared
more sympathetic to Tymkovich's ar-
gument that ordinances protecting gays
against bias constitute special - not
equal - protection.
"They are laws that provide special
protection to that particular category
of person," Scalia said.
Other forms of discrimination are
not banned, he said, adding that em-
ployers can refuse to hire someone
"because you don't like the way they
comb their hair."
can outlaw homosexual conduct, Colo-
rado cannot bar legal protections for
The case does not address the mo-
rality or legality of homosexuality or
gay conduct. But the justices' ruling,
expected by July, could indicate their
views on the continuing validity ofthe
high court's 1986 ruling that let states
outlaw consensual homosexual con-
Voter approval of the amendment
led gay activists to organize a boycott
of Colorado tourism that cost the in-
dustry about $40 million.
Several justices wondered how far
the amendment goes in banning bias
Justice Sandra Day O'Connorasked
whether it would allow public librar-
ies to refuse to lend books to gays.
Ginsburg wondered ifa hospital could
refuse to offer kidney dialysis to ho-
Tymkovich avoided direct re-
Ginsburg compared gay activists'
tactic of seeking local anti-bias ordi-
nances to women's suffrage propo-
nents who long ago sought the right to
vote in cities when they could not win
such a right statewide.
But Tymkovich said voters can de-
cide that all gay-rights issues must be
decided on the state level rather than
by various city governments.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said the
Colorado amendment was unusual
because "here the class (of homo-
sexuals) seems to be adopted for its
WASHINGTON - After a week long
breather, the 104th Congress reconvened yes-
terday with grand ambitions, a pile of unfin-
ished business and a schedule so tight that it
would make the Energizer Bunny wince.
"We look forward to what we think will be
one of the most historic four- or five-week
periods in modern history in terms of the
legislature," said House Speaker Newt
Gingrich (R-Ga.), in a typical bit of under-
Certainly, it promises to be frenetic and death-
defying. Calling the Congress a 10-ring circus
barely captures the myriad acts of legislative
magic the Republicans must perform in order to
achieve their dream of a balanced budget and
sweeping tax cuts.
Facing a deadline of Nov. 13 - when a
stopgap government funding bill ends and the
United States may default if the national debt
ceiling isn't increased by law - House and
Senate Republicans must reach agreement
among themselves on 12 spending bills, an
overhaul of Medicare, Medicaid and welfare,
and a tax-cut package.
The spending bills, which fund everything
from the Army to air traffic controllers, must
pass if the government is to continue running.
The other bills, which would also cut student
loan programs, farm subsidies and tax credits
for the poor, are part of an overall plan to
balance the budget by 2002. Failure to pass the
bills would not shut down the government, but
would be deeply embarrassing to Republicans.
Many Republicans, especially in the House,
want to tie the budget legislation to the law
increasing the debt limit, so that if President
Clinton vetoed the budget bill he would risk
sending the country into default.
But deep divisions exist among Republicans
- particularly between the Senate and House
-and it is not clear ifany compromises willNvin
enough votes to ensure passage of the budget
bills. Just before the recess, the House voted
down two compromise spending bills ---for
interior and defense spending - in an embar-
rassing rebuff to Gingrich and other top House
Even if the bills pass, they face almost cer-
tain veto from Clinton. Ultimately, the White
House and congressional leaders must sitdown
and negotiate, but Clinton has the luxury of
waiting if the Republican leadership cannot
muster the votes to pass the bills in they first
Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Demo-
cratic leader, confidently said yesterday that the
Republicans are running scared.
"Republicans are becoming increasingly
scared about what they are proposing," he said.
Gay-rights activists listen to speeches in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
Supreme Court looks, at
gambling on reservations
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - The National
Indian Gaming Association refers to
gambling as "the return of the buf-
falo," today's primary "survival
mechanism" for Native Americans.
In July, the U.S. Treasury Depart-
ment estimated that a total of $27 bil-
lion a year is wagered by the patrons of
120 tribal casinos in 16 states.
But no one agrees on who has the
legal authority to regulate this fast-
growing business. Do the states, which
have the power to prevent crime? The
tribes, which say they have sovereign
power on the reservations? Or the fed-
eral government, which can claim sov-
ereign power over both?
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court
will try to untangle the legal mess.
The justices themselves played a
major part in creating the problem. In
1987, the high court created a legal
void when it ruled states could not
enforce criminal laws against gam-
bling on tribal lands.
In response, Congress passed the
Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of
1988. It allowed tribes to freely con-
duct social gambing, such as bingo
games, but said slot machines and high-
stakes casinos were allowed only in a
state that "permits such gaming."
In order to regulate gambling, tribes
and states were told to negotiate a "com-
pact" to set the rules. Federal judges
were given power of enforcement.
But the compromise law has pro-
voked more disputes than it has settled.
FloridaGov. Lawton Chiles agreed to
allow card games and wagering on jai
alaion reservations, but refused tonego-
tiate with the tribes over casinos using
Invoking the 1988 law, the Semi-
noles took the matter to federal court
contending the governor had to nego-
'tiate. To the tribe's surprise, a U.S.
appeals court threw out the lawsuit,
saying the Constitution gives states
"sovereign immunity" from being
dragged to federal court.
Colo. Attorney General Gale Norton speaks outside the Supreme Court.
Viewers protest Simpson interview
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - To NBC News
President Andrew Lack, tonight's tele-
vised sit-down interview with O.J.
Simpson is the ultimate no-win situa-
"It's almost unimaginable thatpeople
won't be howling from every corner,"
he said in an interview yesterday.
"It's a daunting challenge, to be fair
and objective on a story where most
people have had a difficult time evalu-
ating fairness and objectivity. Most
everyone who will watch the program
will come with a lot of baggage, much
of it emotional. So much emotional-
ism surrounds this case that anything
we do will be disapproved of by lots of
people. We're not going to win any
To be sure, airing an interview with
a man who much of the country be-
lieves is a brutal murderer is not a
universally popular decision.
NBC headquarters in New York
was flooded with protest calls yester-
day, and many affiliate stations re-
ported several unhappy callers.
Nicole Perlman, vice president of
the National Organization for Women's
Los Angeles chapter, denounced
NBC's decision. "At the very least,
Mr. Simpson is an admitted batterer,"
she said. "They are choosing to associ-
ate themselves with a man who beat his
wife her entire adult life."
Lack said he is not surprised by
such criticism because Simpson "is a
very divisive figure in the country."
Two of the network's biggest stars,
Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric, will
conduct the live, hour-long interview
at 9 p.m. on "Dateline NBC." Lack said
he dropped plans to include Bryant
Gumbel, Couric's co-anchor on "Today,"
after Simpson told him that they have
been friends and golfing buddies for 20
years and that this could create a conflict
CBS and Fox are postponing new epi-
sodes of "Beverly Hills 90210," "Dave's
World" and the like. ABC is under con-
tract to show the baseball playoffs, while
CNN is carrying a debate among the 10
Republican presidential candidates in
A former executive producer of NBC
Sports who worked with Simpson in his
sportscasting days, Simpson pal Don
Ohlmeyer had the initial conversation
with Simpson about the possibility of
doing his first interview with NBC.
Simpson cut the deal Sunday night.
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