October 04, 1999 06:32pm
Landmark Term Ahead for Supreme Court; Crucial Issues Of Parental Rights, Pornography, and Religion
by: Family Research Council
(WASHINGTON) -- "The Supreme Court is beginning one of the most important terms to affect the family this decade," said FRC Chief Spokesperson Janet Parshall on Monday, as the court opened its 1999-2000 term. "From pornography, to pro-life speech, to religious liberty, the cases in the Court's docket reach to the heart of family, faith, and freedom. Family Research Council is keeping a close eye on the Court and our hope is that the justices will uphold the Constitution and make decisions within their boundaries," Parshall said.
The Court will hear two cases addressing the limits of First Amendment protection for sexually explicit entertainment. In U.S. v. Playboy Entertainment Group, the Court will consider the constitutionality of a federal law that requires cable programmers to broadcast only at night or fully scramble the video and audio portions of indecent or sexually explicit programming from non-subscribers. FRC filed an amicus brief in support of the government's position. In Erie, Pa. v. Pap's A.M., the Court will address the power of municipalities to regulate sexually oriented businesses when it considers the constitutionality of Erie's ordinance banning totally nude dancing. FRC signed an amicus brief in support of Erie's ordinance.
In Mitchell v. Helms the Court will consider whether the First Amendment permits discrimination against religious institutions in the name of the Establishment Clause when it addresses whether federal funds may be provided to state and local educational agencies to purchase and lend books, computers, software, and other audio/visual equipment to public and private schools, including religious schools.
In Hill v. City of Lakewood, a semifinalist case for a Family Research Council Court Jester Award in 1999, the Court will review a Colorado law that prohibits "sidewalk counselors" from coming within eight feet of another person when in the vicinity of a health care facility, including abortion clinics. In 1997 the Court held such restrictions unconstitutional.
In University of Wisconsin v. Southworth, the Court will judge whether students may be forced to pay activity fees that fund student organizations that participate in partisan political activity.
Parental rights will be addressed in Troxel v. Granville when the Court reviews the constitutionality of a Washington statute granting third parties visitation rights when in "the best interests of a child."
SOURCE: Family Research Council