Welcome to another issue of PLN . As I write this, I just saw on the news that Thurgood Marshall, the first and only black person to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, is resigning due to age and health reasons. Mr. Marshall was always a friend of prisoners and consistently opposed the death penalty and the expansion of police and government powers. He was the last Supreme Court justice appointed by a democratic president in 1967. With his resignation the right wingers will have a solid majority in the Supreme Court and we can expect to see a greater and faster erosion of prisoners rights and the rights of citizens before the government onslaught under guise of it's "war on drugs." Mr. Marshall's resignation only dramatizes a trend that began almost ten years ago when Reagan began appointing justices to the Supreme Court. It is ironic that nowadays justices appointed by Nixon and Ford are viewed as "moderates" and "liberals." With decision after decision coming out of the Supreme Court limiting the rights of workers, women, prisoners, the poor and disadvantaged, citizens accused of illegal actions, etc., it is becoming obvious that the dire predictions made when Scalia, O'Connor, Kennedy and Souter were appointed to the Court by Reagan and Bush are coming true. The right wing in this country accused the liberal Warren Court of being "activist," yet we see the Rehnquist court running post haste to limit prisoners access to habeas corpus review and to speed the imposition of the death penalty, limit women's access to abortions, etc.
In a way I think that the right wing trend of the Supreme Court will restore it to its historic tradition. The Earl Warren court that issued such historic rulings that struck down discrimination, in the classroom and public facilities, the right to sue for violation of civil rights, the right of criminal defendants to a lawyer, etc., was something of an aberration. After all, it was the Supreme Court that had upheld slavery, internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was legal, etc. For centuries the U.S. Constitution was looked at but not enforced for the poor and under privileged, it looks like we're heading back to those "good old days." It turns out that just as quickly as the Warren court issued those landmark rulings asserting constitutional rights, the Rehnquist court will now undo them.
What has gotten less attention than the Supreme Court is the large number of judges that have been appointed to lifetime terms by Reagan and Bush, nearly 75% of the federal judiciary, nearly all of them rich, white and mal. While congress putters about trying to pass a "civil rights" bill to undercut recent Supreme Court decisions limiting employment discrimination suits by women and minorities, little thought is given to the fact that it will be these judges, most of whom are hostile to these very laws that will be called on to interpret and enforce these laws, ii they ever get passed.
On another note, 127 House is putting together a benefit tape to help PLN . They are looking for electronic, industrial collage, Punk/HC and spoken pieces on Type II or better cassettes (enclose an SASE if you need it back) and information about the contributor. If you know any bands or such that might be interested let them know about this. The deadline for contributions is Sept. 1, 1991, and all profits from the tape sales, to be on sale Oct. 1, 1991, will go to PLN to keep us publishing. For more information write: 127 House, P.O. Box 11481, Knoxville, TN 37933-1061.
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