#10 Fall 1992
TAFOL PRESIDENT CONDUCTS "LAW
CLASS" AT CONCEPTUAL CONFERENCES IN
l THIRD CIRCUIT HEARS ORAL ARGUMENT ON
STEIRER CHALLENGE TO MANDATORY
COMMUNITY SERVICE FOR HIGH SCHOOL
l ACTIVITIES OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS
l BACK ISSUES OF TAFOL PUBLICATIONS
1992 Page 1
PRESIDENT CONDUCTS "LAW
SCHOOL CLASS" AT CONCEPTUAL CONFERENCES IN WILLIAMSBURG
President Steve Plafker discussed the influential case,
Times v. Sullivan, at Conceptual Conferences'
Williamsburg seminar this past summer. In Sullivan, the Supreme
Court held that the First Amendment requires a "rule
that prohibits a public official from recovering damages
for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct
unless he proves that the statement was made with 'actual
malice,'---that is, with knowledge that it was false or with
reckless disregard of whether it was false or not." In
coming to this conclusion, the Court interpreted its prior
cases along with the Alien and Sedition Laws (in particular,
the Sedition Act of 1798) to mean that a public figure must
be prepared to be maligned falsely.
ran the session like a mock law school class. The audience
asked questions designed to elicit the legal
principles involved and to determine whether the case was
rightly decided. After a review of the case's procedural
history through the Alabama courts, the "class" discussed
problems with the Court's reasoning and history. The discussion
dealt largely with whether the history of the Alien and Sedition
Laws led to the result claimed by the Supreme Court. Steve
pointed out that the history was not clear and that the Court
had ignored a number of sources and considerations that went
contrary to its conclusion.
Steve also expressed gratification with the significant
number of Williamsburg attendees who decided to become members
of TAFOL. Some of these new members made contributions exceeding
the $20 yearly dues.
THIRD CIRCUIT HEARS ORAL ARGUMENT ON
STEIRER CHALLENGE TO MANDATORY COMMUNITY SERVICE FOR HIGH
panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit heard oral argument on November 3,
1992, in the case of Steirer v. Bethlehem Area School
As reported in the last Bulletin, TAFOL filed its first amicus
curiae ("friend of the court") brief in that case.
The purpose of the amicus brief was to provide additional
support for the brief filed by the plaintiffs' own lawyer;
parties filing amicus briefs ordinarily do not participate
in oral argument. The plaintiffs are students and parents
who object to a program that denies a high school diploma
to any student who refuses to provide 60 hours of unpaid
community service. The requirement is being attacked as violating
two basic constitutional guarantees: freedom of speech and
association under the First Amendment, and freedom from involuntary
servitude under the Thirteenth Amendment.
plaintiffs' lawyer who participated in oral argument informs
that the panel of judges showed sensitivity
to the moral issues at stake. One judge's questions explicitly
identified the mandatory community service requirement as
part of the "political correctness" movement. In
other questioning, the judges wondered aloud where a line
could be drawn beyond which mandatory service could not proceed:
could students be forced to pick tomatoes during the school
day on the premise that it would benefit them to get in touch
with the soil? On the other hand, the judges accepted the
premise that public schools have some right to force students
to engage in undesired activities. Thus, one judge recalled
that when he was in high school, he had to swim as part of
a physical education course, and he hated it. Can a line
be drawn, the judge wondered, between permissible education
and the impermissible inculcation of moral values?
noted in its amicus brief, recent Supreme Court decisions
to render courts "powerless to arrest
the gradual accretion of power in the hands of school boards.
Logically, the only complete cure for this dilemma would
Fall 1992 Page 2
shut down the public schools and allow parents to use the
tax savings to send their children to private
If all schools were private and all parents free to choose
the schools that their children would attend, the problem
of compulsory exposure to unwanted ideas would not arise." Unfortunately,
the Steirer case does not present the issue of whether the
public schools should survive. However, it does provide an
opportunity for the courts to draw a line beyond which public
school boards may not go in converting defenseless students
to their own moral ideals. At best, a victory in Steirer would
buy some time; however, a final victory will come only
when education is no longer considered
to be a government enterprise.
The Third Circuit's decision in Steirer will probably be
issued in early 1993.
ACTIVITIES OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS
Mazzone has written an amicus brief on the issue of mandatory
IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers' Trust Funds)
laws. IOLTA laws seize the interest income earned on clients'
money in temporary lawyer's trust accounts and then disperse
that income to "public interest" legal groups.
Although a federal appellate court refused to accept the
amicus brief in a pending IOLTA case, Michael is willing
to make the brief available to interested attorneys who may
wish to challenge IOLTA laws in other states. Attorneys or
others may also wish to submit the brief, or portions thereof,
as legal articles, editorial pieces, or letters to the editor,
to legal periodicals or other publications in their area.
who also filed a hard-hitting intervenor's brief in the
Gomez mandatory pro bono case pending in
Texas, was recently elected Vice President of TAFOL.
He also chairs TAFOL's amicus curiae committee.
Michael can be contacted [Omitted].
Mann spoke at The Jefferson School's one-day New York Seminar
24, 1992. Her talk, "The Remarkable
Rationality of the Common Law, " had also been given
at The Jefferson School's two-week conference in California
in 1991. The talk presented an overview of the common law
and addresses such issues as fraud, the value of precedent,
and selected topics in contracts and evidence. An audio tape
of the talk is available through Second Renaissance Books,
[ Omitted---now at The Ayn Rand Bookstore: http://www.aynrandbookstore.com/ see “law”].
Tom Bowden published a pamphlet entitled The Enemies
of Christopher Columbus, which examines the philosophically
false, historically inaccurate, but "politically correct" criticisms
of Columbus that have tarnished his reputation as an heroic
discoverer. The Ayn Rand Institute distributed more than
a thousand copies of the pamphlet to Objectivist campus
clubs in the United States and abroad in conjunction with
the Columbus Day holiday. The pamphlet is also available
through Second Renaissance Books.
BACK ISSUES OF TAFOL PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE
note: all issues are now on this web site and no paper
copies can be provided.]
Copyright © 1992
The Association for Objective Law. All rights reserved.
The Association for Objective Law is
a Missouri non-profit corporation whose purpose is to advance
Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, as the basis of
a proper legal system.