Federal News Roundup
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the Perry (Ind.) Education Association, recognized as collective-bargaining agent for local teachers, has a right to exclusive use of the school district's internal mail system.
The teachers' group, an affiliate of the National Education Association, procured the right to use the mailing system in a 1978 contract. But a smaller, independent union, the Perry Local Educators Association, claims that it, too, should be able to communicate with its members through the school system's mails.
Exclusive mailing privileges are "not a top priority" in collective bargaining, according to Phil King, a spokesman at nea's national headquarters in Washington. But the association's locals frequently seek access to school districts' mailing systems because they are considered the most efficient way to communicate with members. "It's almost impossible to do the job without it," he added.
"In the private sector, in businesses covered by the National Labor Relations Act, the recognized bargaining agent is normally and routinely granted mailing privileges to help in the bargaining process," Mr. King said. "But in the public sector, we have no national [collective-bargaining] law."
The "turbulent childhood" of a juvenile who killed a policeman must be considered before he may be sentenced to die, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision last week.
Monty Lee Eddings, now 21 years old, was 16 when he shot an Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer who stopped him for a traffic offense. After pleading no contest, he was sentenced to death by an Oklahoma judge.
Mr. Eddings' lawyers said that the defendant had been beaten as a child, that his mother was an alcoholic, and that he was emotionally disturbed as a result. The sentencing judge in Oklahoma agreed to take Mr. Eddings' age into consideration, but refused to consider the account of his traumatic childhood.
"Just as the chronological age of a minor is itself a relevant mitigating factor of great weight," Associate Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. wrote for the majority, "so must the background and mental and emotional development of a youthful defendant be duly considered in sentencing."
The Court did not, however, address the broader question of whether the death penalty is unconstitutionally "cruel and unusual punishment'' for juveniles.
The Eddings case now goes back to the Oklahoma courts for a new sentencing.
The Reagan Administration is considering rules requiring that parents be notified when their minor children seek prescription contraceptives from federally supported family-planning agencies.
The proposal, which is awaiting approval by the Office of Management and Budget, has been criticized both by many conservatives--who would require parents' prior consent rather than mere notification--and by officials of family-planning agencies, who are worried that the rules would discourage sexually active teen-agers from using contraceptives.
Vol. 01, Issue 18