Federal File: Disinvitation; Curfews

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The Prince George's County, Md., school district has withdrawn an invitation that would have brought U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to speak at an awards ceremony--but it may ask him to another event.

Mr. Thomas, the only black justice and one of the court's most conservative members, was to speak June 10 at Thomas G. Pullen Creative and Performing Arts School in Landover, a magnet school for elementary- and middle-school-age students.

But school board member Kenneth E. Johnson and some parents, who dislike the justice's political views, threatened to protest the appearance. Officials of the suburban Washington district retracted the invitation for fear that the awards ceremony would be marred.

"There's no place for Clarence Thomas anywhere in my district," Mr. Johnson told The Washington Post. "He has done everything he can to undermine the things that are important to people in my district."

A parent reportedly extended the invitation, later approved by school officials, after students touring the court were invited by Justice Thomas into his office.

Late last week, Superintendent Jerome Clark sent a memo to the nine-member school board asking whether they should extend a new invitation to Justice Thomas.

A spokesman for Mr. Clark said a majority of the board favored doing so, but an offer had not yet been made. One possibility, the spokesman said, would be for the justice to address one of two high schools that offer courses in law.


Curfews for teenagers emerged last week as a hot presidential campaign topic. President Clinton and Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, the presumed Republican nominee, both endorsed the idea.

Curfews "help keep our children out of harm's way," Mr. Clinton told the Women's International Convention of the Church of God in Christ May 30 in New Orleans. "They give parents a tool to impart discipline, respect, and rules at an awkward and difficult time in children's lives."

Mr. Clinton praised the "dusk to dawn" curfew for children under age 17 that New Orleans imposed two years ago, which he said cut youth crime.

He said he had asked federal officials to distribute a Department of Justice report on curfews to community leaders.

On his own campaign swing in western states, meanwhile, Mr. Dole backed youth curfews and tougher punishment for juvenile criminals as he attacked Mr. Clinton as weak on crime.

--Mark Pitsch & Millicent Lawton
e-mail: [email protected]

Vol. 15, Issue 37

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