Page 14


country, it may prove a boon to student activism. As some bemused supporters of the legislation have noted, clubs of young Marxists and gay rights activists can now claim federal statutory protection. The Courts The Reagan administration has used all the legal maneuvers at its disposal to push aggressively a right-wing political agenda. The two chief elements of this campaign have been the docket of the Justice Department and the positions advanced in Administration briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, long the ally of those fighting discrimination, has all but abandoned its role as a vigorous enforcer of the nation’s civil rights laws. The Department can now be counted on only to oppose meaningful remedies to combat race and sex discrimination and has literally changed the government position in a number of major cases. More distressing, this role reversal has been met with favor in the Supreme Court. In Grove City v. Bell, the Administration urged the court to adopt such a narrow reading of Title IX that colleges receiving federal funds would be permitted to discriminate in every department except the one actually receiving the funds. In Memphis Firefighters v. Stotts, the Administration argued for a “last hired, first fired” approach to layoffs in municipal fire and police departments unraveling the hard-won affirmative action gains of recent years. The Court adopted the administration position in both cases. Not all of Reagan’s battles have been won. A President eager to shape judicial decision-making can do so by instructing his Justice Department to intervene in cases when the government is not a party and has no direct and immediate interest. This administration has seized every such opportunity available to it, and its interventions have been marked by an unconservative effort to convince the Court to ignore decades of precedent and rewrite whole areas of Constitutional law. In Lynch v. Donnelly, a challenge to the City of Pawtucket’s municipal nativity scene, the Administration urged the adandonment of the traditional threepart test for evaluating church-state questions, in effect endorsing the government’s power to promote religion. The Court didn’t entirely abandon precedent but managed to rule the Administration’s way, straining credulity in finding the manger scene secular and not religious. In a case involving efforts by Akron, Ohio, to discourage abortions through intrusive regulations, the government’s lawyer was sharply scolded by Justice Harry Blackmun, a Nixon appointee, for coaxing the court to move beyond the issues in the case and repudiate Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision declaring abortion a constitutional right. They haven’t all been victories for the Reagan administration in court.. The Justices re-affirmed the right to an abortion, though by a smaller margin than in 1973, thanks to the only Reagan appointee, Justice O’Connor. The Administration suffered another setback when the Court overturned its scheme to give tax breaks to Bob Jones University, which won’t admit blacks. But overall, most commentators chalk up the Court’s recent sessions as extremely congenial to the Administration’s views. OHN HILL John Hill is smart, experienced and qualified, but that’s not why I’m for him for Chief Justice. I’m for him because he doesn’t get his sense of justice from a law bookhe gets it from his heart and his gut. He has spent his entire professional career fighting for the “gougees” of Texas society, and now we need his fairness, integrity and leadership on the high bench. JIM HIGHTOWER Texas Commissioner of Agriculture For CHIEF JUSTICE TEXAS SUPREME COURT Paid for by John Hill Statewide Steering Committee, Vester T. Hughes, Jr., Treasurer THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23