DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     November 16, 1999     vol. 10, no. 217

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Supreme Court tackles Student Prayer at High School games

        WASHINGTON, DC (CWNews.com) - The Clinton administration and Congress came to an agreement on Sunday on the payment of back dues to the United Nations that kept intact a provision that banned funding for pro-abortion groups.

        The bill that would have paid $1 billion in dues that the United States owes to the UN was tied to a provision sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith, R-New Jersey, that would have forbid funding of international population control groups that lobby for legalization of abortion. President Bill Clinton's vow to veto the bill if it contained the abortion measure held up passage and threatened the US vote in the UN's General Assembly.

        Under the one-year deal, Clinton could waive the restriction, but if he did, there would a reduction in the $385 million set aside for international population control programs. In exchange, $926 million would be provided to pay the UN dues.

        A pro-life victory on the population control provisions could lead to quick agreements on other contentious fiscal matters that could cement a budget deal.

        Pro-abortion groups were upset at news of the agreement. "I'd find it disappointing in the extreme if this pro-choice president is the person who took what was only a policy during the Reagan-Bush years and wrote it into statutory law, the waiver notwithstanding," said Susan Cohen, assistant policy director for the Alan Guttmacher Institute. "Once it's written into statutory law, it would be very hard to undo."

        In a related story on Capitol Hill, the US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal on whether public schools may allow students to lead prayers at school athletic events.

        The high court will review a lower-court decision that struck down a Galveston County, Texas, school board's policy as a violation of the separation of church and state. Previous Supreme Court decisions banned clergy-led prayers at public school graduation ceremonies in 1992 and banned organized, officially sponsored prayers from public school.

        In the Galveston County case, the school district allowed students to deliver any "message" or "invocation" over the public address system at football games and graduation ceremonies. The court will only review the football-game policy.

        On Monday, the court also refused to hear appeals regarding child visitation rights for a lesbian who helped raise a child with her former partner, the child's mother, upholding a lower court decision in her favor and a ruling against court and probation officials who had ordered a convicted drunk driver to continue attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The lower court said AA meetings included prayer and other religious content and the sentencing order violated the convict's religious rights.

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.

November 16, 1999       volume 10, no. 217


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