January 19, 2000
volume 11, no. 13
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

    WASHINGTON, DC ( - The US Supreme Court today rejected an appeal of state laws that grant Good Friday as a legal holiday and prepared to receive arguments on Wednesday in whether so-called "bubble zones" around abortion clinics are constitutional.

    In the first case, the high court, without comment, rejected a retired Maryland teacher's appeal in which she claimed that the state's closing of public schools on Good Friday and Easter Monday violated the separation of church and state. Thirteen states designate Good Friday as a legal holiday but only three -- Maryland, Illinois, and North Dakota -- require all public schools to close on Good Friday. A federal appeals court has struck down the Illinois law, and the Supreme Court has not said whether it will review the ruling.

    The Maryland law was upheld by the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals after it was challenged by Judith Koenick, a former teacher who is Jewish. She said the law "sends the message to non-Christians that the state finds Good Friday, and thus Christianity, to be a religion worth honoring while their religion or nonreligion is not of equal importance."

    On Wednesday, the justices will hear arguments on whether a 1993 Colorado law requiring pro-life demonstrators to maintain a specific distance from people entering abortion clinics violates free speech or is a legal protection against harassment.

    James Henderson of the Virginia-based American Center for Law and Justice, which represents the protesters, contends that the law tramples on free-speech rights. "My way of sidewalk counseling is to be gentle and to be compassionate. Colorado's way is to put me so far away I have to scream and yell," said Jeanne Hill, one of three pro-lifers challenging the law. Fourteen states and several cities have passed laws creating "bubble zones" around people entering clinics and "buffer zones" around the clinics themselves.

    The Supreme Court returned the Colorado case to state courts in 1997 to reconsider it in wake of the high court's decision in a New York case, in which the high court allowed pro-lifers to interact with women on public sidewalks as long as they stayed at least 15 feet from the clinic's entrance. A Colorado appeals court again upheld the law, noting it was enacted by lawmakers, while the New York case involved a judge's injunction.


January 19, 2000
volume 11, no. 13

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