Acting on behalf of the 346,000-lawyer group, association leaders adopted a pair of policies aimed at insulating judges from some of the public heat generated by unpopular decisions.
ABA President Jerome Shestack of Philadelphia sharply criticized those he characterized as ``militia groups'' bent on putting judges out of office for decisions with which they don't agree.
And today, a special bar association committee on judicial independence continued its information gathering.
``All of us have a sense of urgency about what we are doing,'' said committee chairman William Sessions, a former judge and onetime FBI director. ``Out of this committee will come some direction.''
One of the new policies urges all state and local bar groups to ``adopt programs enabling timely and effective responses to criticism of judges.''
The group's policy-making House of Delegates was told that ``the reporting of inaccurate or unjust criticism of judges, courts or our system of justice by the news media erodes public confidence and weakens the administration of justice.''
Noting that judges should not respond to such criticism, the policy says lawyers must come to their defense when appropriate.
``To avoid infringing on the freedom of the press, this plan is designed to effect a response ... to criticism that is serious as well as inaccurate or unjustified,'' the policy's sponsors said.
An event that prompted the ABA move was the ouster of Penny White from the Tennessee Supreme Court.
She was voted off the court in a retention election after a group attacked her as a death-penalty foe. In the only capital case of her two-year tenure, White joined in a 3-2 decision that overturned a convicted murderer's death sentence and ordered a new sentencing trial.
White, who now teaches law at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, told the ABA committee today that lawyers groups must do more to counteract misinformation disseminated by ``political opportunists'' who launch campaigns against judges.
Judges are elected in most states.
The second ABA policy adopted Monday is aimed directly at Congress. It says public officials ``should refrain from threatening to initiate judicial impeachment proceedings because of disagreement with isolated decisions of a federal judge.''
House Republican Whip Tom DeLay of Texas caused a stir in Congress last fall when he suggested that judges ``need to be intimidated.''
If they don't behave, he had warned, ``we're going to go after them in a big way.'' DeLay then pushed for impeachment of so-called activist judges who allegedly make rulings that conform to their own views rather than the law.
DeLay did not initiate a formal complaint against any judge.
The bar association also voted to urge President Clinton and the Senate to move quickly to fill vacancies in the federal courts.
The president should make prompt nominations and the Senate should follow quickly with hearings and votes, the adopted resolution said.
In other matters, the ABA's House of Delegates:
Adopted two dozen standards aimed at helping juries in complex trials, including a call to allow jurors take notes and ask witnesses questions.
Sidetracked indefinitely a proposal that would have had the group adopt its first-ever policy on what to do in divorce disputes over custody of frozen embryos.
Since then, allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Monica Lewinsky affair have led to dour comparisons to Richard Nixon. But on grounds of sex and scandal, the better comparison may be between Bill Clinton and Warren G. Harding.
There are some key differences, though. Harding served only 29 months of one term before dying suddenly of a stroke in 1923; Clinton is a two-termer. Harding had a well-placed lack of intellectual self-confidence; Clinton is very bright. Harding didn't seek the presidency - he was nominated in a deadlocked convention; Clinton has pursued the Oval Office his entire life.
But there are many fascinating similarities, starting with the obvious: Harding looked presidential, and Clinton is tall, as was King Saul. Most of the Washington press corps liked Harding and protected him. Ditto for Clinton - until this year, at least.
Reporters also gossiped about the bossiness of Harding's wife, nicknamed ''Duchess,'' whose reputation was similar to Hillary Clinton's. ''Mrs. Harding wants to be the drum major in every band that passes,'' Harding once complained.
Both men were plagued with financial scandals. Three of Harding's Cabinet members resigned in disgrace. Harding's Interior Secretary, Albert Fall, went to jail for his role in the Teapot Dome conspiracy to defraud the government. Several of Clinton's Cabinet members, including Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, are under investigation. The Republican National Committee engaged in shady campaign fund raising in 1920. So did the Clinton-Gore campaign in '96.
Sexual intrigues past and present have commandeered the most headlines, with eerie similarities in the allegations: Clinton had a long pre-presidential affair with Gennifer Flowers; Harding had a long pre-presidential affair with Carrie Phillips.
Today, a 50-year-old Clinton is accused of a lurid affair with then-21-year-old Monica Lewinsky in a private study next to the Oval Office. Back then, it was Harding in his 50s and Nan Britton in her 20s, reportedly in a coat closet connected to the Oval Office by a ''secret passage.''
The suicide of Vince Foster, deputy White House counsel and Clinton's friend, raised suspicions. So did suicides of not one but two Harding associates in 1923.
The first, Charles Cramer, shot himself in the bathroom of the home in which Harding lived before moving to the White House. Cramer spent the hours before his suicide at his desk writing letters, including one to Harding himself. A next-door neighbor heard the shot and rushed in; she saw Cramer sprawled on the floor and the letters on his desk, and then went for help. When she returned later, the letters were gone.
Two months later, another Harding administration insider, Jess Smith, apparently shot himself after burning some papers in a metal wastebasket in his room. Rumors of foul play bounced around Washington.
But Harding's sudden death, on Aug. 2, 1923, makes a vital distinction between the two presidents. Also, Harding's sexual dalliances didn't become public in his lifetime.
A Clinton-type character is at the center of ''Primary Colors,'' first a book and now a movie. A fictionalized Harding starred in ''Revelry,'' a novel made into a movie three years after Harding's death. And Nan Britton's tell-all book, ''The President's Daughter,'' came out in 1927. No major publisher would touch it, but word-of-mouth made it into a best seller.
During his lifetime President Harding received the honor that his office could afford. President Clinton, however, has suffered the death of a thousand cuts.
Just before Harding's sudden death, he apparently wanted to come clean. He asked his honest secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, ''If you knew of a great scandal in our administration, would you for the good of the country and the party expose it publicly, or would you bury it?''
''Publish it,'' Hoover replied, ''and at least get credit for integrity on your side.''
But Harding ''abruptly dried up,'' Hoover wrote later. His sudden death left him unable to confess and make amends.
Marvin Olasky is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and editor of World Magazine.
Yes, if you've been informed. In the state of California, U.S.A., there is a new ballot initiative to make it a law that a jury must be informed by a judge in every trial of its inherent right to judge the law as well as the facts of the case before them. Justice depends on informed, educated juries, hence the Jury Education Initiative (JEI).
*JURY EDUCATION COMMITTEE*
Board of Directors: Pastor Wiley Drake, Hon. George Hansen, Larry Dodge, Ph.D., Peymon Mottahedeh.
The Jury Education Committee is a political action committee whose mission is to enact policies and laws which bring added justice to our judicial system through educated and informed jurors. The Committee plans to promote laws which:
1. Inform trial jurors of their inherent right and power as trial jurors to veto unjust laws or unjustly applied laws and thereby stop imprisonment of the innocent;
2. Educate the grand jurors of their important duty in maintaining public trust in the integrity and uprightness of our public servants by presenting or indicting corrupt or criminal public servants;
3. Provide for adequate compensation of jurors to ensure all citizens a meaningful opportunity to become involved in their own governance as jurors.
*1998 GENERAL PLAN*
The Committee is currently sponsoring a statewide California initiative called the Jury Education Initiative. This initiative assures that all trial jurors will be informed by the trial judge that they may vote to acquit or find the defendant not guilty, if the law is unjust or its application would produce an unjust verdict.
In addition, this initiative guarantees that all parties in a trial will have the opportunity to present arguments to the jury which may pertain to issues of law and justice, including:
a) The merit, intent, constitutionality or applicability of the law to the defendant's case;
b) The motive, moral perspective or circumstances of the defendant;
c) The degree and direction of guilt or actual harm done;
d) The sanctions which may be applied to the losing party.
This initiative will significantly reduce the number of innocent people who are imprisoned in California due to unjust laws or unjust application of laws.
One of those sounds will be an old time favorite -- one that goes virtually unchallenged wherever it is tried. We've all heard it said and many of us have even repeated it ourselves, "You can't legislate morality." Usually, this phrase is directed at people of faith in response to some so-called moral issue. Before accepting this statement at face value, consider the following:
1. All laws legislate somebody's morality. It is impossible to find a law, whether it concerns murder, theft, speeding, or even jay walking, that doesn't prove this statement to be true. Even the absence of laws is a reflection of somebody's morality. 2. All political ideologies demand that some system of laws be enacted to influence people's behavior, thereby allowing one group to impose its morality on another group. All political philosophies in existence, even total anarchy, validate this claim.
Keep this in mind the next time you hear bold assertions against legislating morality, as there are no exceptions to either of these two points. It makes no difference from which side of the political spectrum a law comes. Whether based on religion or not, whether conservative, liberal, or anything in between, as long as there are laws, or even a lack thereof, there will be legislation of morality. It is impossible to have it any other way.
WASHINGTON - Sandy Delancey was angry to discover her son was part of a behavior study and even angrier when she learned his Pittsburgh elementary school didn't need her permission for the third-grader to participate.
The Pennsylvania woman is part of a group of parents who allege in a lawsuit that researchers in the 1995 study delved into whether children ever forced anyone to have sex or tortured animals. Kyle Delancy, now 10, was so upset he suffered severe headaches, his mother said.
``I wasn't even told, let alone asked,'' she said. ``I was surprised that the only way I could get the problem resolved was to take people to court.''
Parents across the nation are waging court battles over their right to information concerning their children's education. Members of Congress are proposing a measure to bolster parents' rights - and penalize noncompliant schools by withholding federal money.
Federal law, enacted in 1974, is too vague, said Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., a sponsor of the new bill. The statute says parents should have access to files and other materials directly related to a student, but it doesn't spell out what a parent is entitled to see - and it doesn't require parental consent for students to undergo counseling or psychiatric evaluation.
Researchers say parents misunderstood the 1995 study, which had been widely used in Pittsburgh but was canceled in the Gateway School District after parents complained. A lawsuit is pending in federal court against the district and the psychiatric hospital at the University of Pittsburgh, which conducted the study of hyperactivity and other behavior disorders.
Legal rulings on such matters vary: A Michigan couple lost a court battle to view records of a counselor's sessions with their son, who they said was counseled without their permission. But a California couple successfully obtained a court order to review the curriculum of an elective class in which their son was enrolled.
The National PTA argues that parental rights legislation could interfere with child abuse laws and school discipline codes. And the National Education Association says the bill ``may pave the way for lawsuit after lawsuit that could literally paralyze the public school system,'' said NEA spokesman Steve Wollmer.
Tiahrt argues Congress should make the rules crystal-clear for school administrators.
``My purpose here is to eliminate any misunderstanding. Parents should be involved,'' said Tiahrt, who introduced the measure Wednesday. ``Whenever we involve parents in the educational process, kids do better and schools are stronger. When parents are excluded from the system, they are suspicious of it.''
The measure's co-sponsors include House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, dozens of Republican lawmakers and a handful of Democrats. It's backed by conservative groups including the Rutherford Institute and the Family Research Council.
The measure would guarantee access to such curricula-related materials as textbooks, films, manuals and audiovisual materials. And parents would have the right to see the tests their children take, with the exception of standardized achievement and copyright tests.
It would require schools to obtain parental consent before students undergo medical, psychological or psychiatric examination or treatment at school.
Why are nearly eighty Republicans, led by Representatives Steve Largent and Bill Paxon, pushing for an end to the federal income tax law by December 31, 2001? For 40 years, Democrats (in the dark of night) have inserted loopholes and complications in the federal income tax law, making it an ever-growing monster that preys on the American people. Republicans believe the time has come to end this "system." The "Tax Termination Act" will protect Social Security and Medicare, while forcing Congress to either vote to sunset the current tax law or to defend the loopholes they created.
The Tax Law is Too Complex, Too long
* The Gettysburg address is 269 words, the Declaration of Inependence is 1,337 words, and the Holy Bible is only 773,000 words.
* However, the tax law has grown from 11,400 words in 1913, to 7 million words today.
* There are at least 480 different tax forms, each with many pages of instructions.
* Even the easiest form, the 1040EZ has 33 pages of instructions, and all in fine print.
* The IRS sends out 8 billion pages of forms and instructions each year. Laid end to end, they would stretch 28 times around the earth.
* Nearly 300,000 trees are cut down yearly to produce the paper for all the IRS forms and instructions.
* American taxpayers spend $200 billion and 5.4 billion hours working to comply with federal taxes each year, more than it takes to produce every car, truck, and van in the US.
* The burden of compliance is the equivalent to a staff of 3 million people working full time for a year, just to comply with the taxes on individuals and businesses.
* The IRS employs 114,000 people: that's twice as many as the CIA, and five times more than the FBI.
* 60% of taxpayers must hire a professional to get through their own return.
* Taxes eat up 38.2% of the average family's income; that's more than for food, clothing and shelter combined.
The FEC fined the law firm of major Democratic fund-raiser Marvin Rosen $77,000 for seeking contributions from a German developer, Thomas Kramer.
And the agency's general counsel found ``reason to believe'' that another top Democratic fund-raiser, Miami business executive Howard Glicken, knowingly sought additional contributions from Kramer, who, as a foreign national, could not legally contribute to U.S. campaigns.
Kramer's contributions were made in 1993 and 1994, before the current Justice Department and congressional probes into foreign donations to President Clinton's 1996 re-election. Rosen was DNC finance chairman during the Clinton campaign.
Rosen's law firm - Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen & Quentel - was fined for soliciting $91,000 in campaign contributions from Kramer, who was being represented by the firm on immigration matters.
The FEC last year fined Kramer a record $323,000 for making $418,600 in illegal campaign contributions to federal, state and local political parties and candidates in 1993 and 1994.
The law firm's managing partner, Cesar Alvarez, said the firm's action was inadvertent, but the firm agreed to settle because it would cost less than to engage in a lengthy dispute with the FEC.
``All they have to show is a contribution was solicited and it was a foreign national,'' Alvarez said. ``It doesn't matter that we did not know he was a foreign national.''
The FEC decided not to pursue a case against Glicken, who has raised millions of dollars for the party and is expected to play a role in Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign.
In his report to the commission, general counsel Lawrence Noble said the ``available evidence'' suggested Glicken brought in four contributions from Kramer to the Democrats. But since Glicken likely would contest the FEC's findings, the agency would have to conduct a full investigation and would not have time to complete it before the statute of limitations expired, Noble said.
Glicken was out of the country and did not return phone calls to his home or office.
2. Thou Shalt Remember Election Day, and Focus on it Wholly
3. Thou Shalt Spin thy Words, for Maximum Advantage.
4. Honor thy Campaign Contributors and thy Media.
5. Thou Shalt Maintain Thy Political Viability, at All Costs.
6. Thou Shalt Not Inhale. Much.
7. Thou Shalt Not Commit to One Political Position.
8. Thou Shalt Not Steal---Thou Shalt Call It "Investing In America".
9. Thou Shalt Covet Thy Nation's Health Care Industry, and either all at once or piece by piece.
10. Thou Shalt Do It for the Children.
11. Thou Shalt Not Covet thine Unpaid Interns----Unless They Are Really Hot.
And the one Commandment that comes before all others, for this Administration......
Thou Shalt Not Get Caught.
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