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Justice White To Retire At End of Current Term

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WASHINGTON--President Clinton said last week that he will appoint someone with "deep convictions'' about civil liberties to replace Associate Justice Byron R. White, who has announced he will retire at the end of the U.S. Supreme Court's current term.

The President said at a White House press conference on March 23 that he would not "knowingly appoint someone that did not have a very strong view about the First Amendment's freedom-of-religion, freedom-of-association, and freedom-of-speech provisions.''

Mr. Clinton said he would announce an appointment as soon as he "reasonably can.''

Justice White, who was appointed by President Kennedy in 1962 and currently is the Court's longest-serving member, announced on March 12 that he will step down in late June or early July.

Conservative Voice

Justice White has written a number of important education decisions. Generally considered a conservative, he has tended to defer to the judgment of school boards and administrators in most matters, with school desegregation being a notable exception.

Justice White also has favored allowing freer exercise of religion in schools. In 1985, he voted to uphold an Alabama law that required a moment of silence for meditation or silent prayer in public schools, and last year voted to allow clerics to recite prayers at public school graduation ceremonies.

Justice White voted with the majority in a series of cases in the 1960's and early 1970's in which the Court broadened remedies for school desegregation.

In 1974, in Milliken v. Bradley, he joined with the dissenters in the Court's 5-to-4 decision not to require Detroit suburbs to participate in a desegregation program with the city's schools.

In 1979, he wrote the Court's majority decisions in Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman (Dayton II) and Columbus Board of Education v. Penick, which upheld systemwide busing orders for districts that had not been segregated by law at the time of the High Court's 1954 desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

Justice White wrote two important decisions outlining the limits of school administrators' authority over students.

In 1985 in New Jersey v. T.L.O., the Court authorized school officials to search students without a warrant if the officials have "reasonable grounds'' for suspecting that laws or school rules have been broken.

In 1988, Justice White wrote the Court's 5-to-3 majority decision in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, which stated that school officials have considerable leeway in regulating student speech in school-sponsored publications and activities.--M.W.

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