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ACLU Calls White's Career One of Repeated Disappointments;
Urges Clinton to Strengthen Court's Protection of Individual Rights
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 1993
NEW YORK -- The retirement of Associate Justice Byron White presents
President Clinton with an early opportunity to begin to strengthen the
United States Supreme Court's unique and historic role as an institution
committed to limiting government powers and protecting and expanding the
civil liberties and civil rights of all Americans.
Appointed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, Justice White's long
career on the Court has been one of repeated disappointments for civil
libertarians. While he has often voted to end school desegregation and
other forms of race- and sex-based discrimination, he has repeatedly
opposed affirmative action remedies that would implement the
Constitution's guarantee of equality.
Justice White has also consistently demonstrated insensitivity to the
fundamental right of privacy. He is one of the Court's strongest critics
of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision legalizing abortion, and he authored
the Court's unprincipled opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick, the 1986 case that
upheld Georgia's sodomy statute.
Justice White was also hostile to the rights of criminal suspects and
defendants. He argued in his dissent in Miranda v. Arizona that the police
were not constitutionally required to inform criminal suspects that they
had the right to remain silent.
Justice White's position that public aid to religious schools was not
a violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause was inconsistent
with the Court's own precedents and with the fundamental principle of
separation of church and state. In addition, he has called for
reconsideration of the Court's landmark decision in New York Times v.
Sullivan, which imposed First Amendment limits on libel actions by public
The ACLU urges President Clinton to remember the Court's crucial role
as he considers whom to name as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court and to move confidently and swiftly to restore to the Court its
proper role as the protector of the Bill of Rights.
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