#13 Fall 1993
l TAFOL PLANS
ESSAY CONTEST FOR LAW
l SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO HEAR APPEAL OF
DECISION UPHOLDING MANDATORY COMMUNITY
SERVICE FOR PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
l ACTIVITIES OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS
1993 Page 1
TAFOL PLANS ESSAY CONTEST
FOR LAW STUDENTS
TAFOL is planning to institute an annual essay contest for
law students beginning with the 1994-95 academic year. The
purpose of the contest is to promote awareness of Ayn Rand's
political philosophy among law students. Students will be
asked to write an essay concerning the application of Ayn
Rand's philosophy to legal issues that the students might
face in law school. Cash prizes will be awarded. Further
details will be announced in this Bulletin.
welcomes donations for the cash prizes and operating expenses,
will include substantial sums for printing
and mailing. TAFOL has § 501(c)(3) public charity status,
and thus the Internal Revenue Service recognizes all donations
as tax deductible.
SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO HEAR APPEAL OF DECISION UPHOLDING
MANDATORY COMMUNITY SERVICE FOR PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal
of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals' decision upholding
a program compelling public high school students to perform
community service. The Supreme Court, as is normal in such
cases, gave no reasons for its refusal to grant certiorari.
Out of hundreds of cases that had accumulated on the Supreme
Court's docket over the summer recess, only seven appeals
The Third Circuit issued its opinion in Steirer
v. Bethlehem Area School District on March 15, 1993. As reported in previous
issues of its bulletin, TAFOL had filed an amicus curiae
brief in the case to provide additional support for the plaintiffs'
attempt to have the program ruled unconstitutional. The plaintiffs
were students and parents who objected to a program that
denies a high school diploma to any student who refuses to
render 60 hours of unpaid
The petition to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari
was filed by a public interest law firm called the Institute
for Justice, based in Washington, D.C. Prior to the Supreme
Court's denial of certiorari, TAFOL had made contact with
lawyers handling the case, and arrangements were in place
for TAFOL to have filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme
Court had the case gone forward.
ACTIVITIES OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS
Plafker, Arline Mann, and Tom Bowden will deliver a four-hour
entitled "Rights and the Courts" at
the upcoming "Ideas for the Rational Mind" conference,
sponsored by Second
Renaissance Conferences. The two-week conference will be
held at the Meadowlands Hilton in Secaucus, New Jersey, July
16 through July 31, 1994. Tom's lecture will explain how
the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade has
become the battleground on which the future of natural law
in America will probably be decided. Arline will discuss
the method by which concepts of rights are developed, case
by case, in the legal system, using the texts of actual court
decisions as examples. Steve will focus on how the criminal
law secures rights substantively (by convicting criminals)
and procedurally (by protecting the rights of the accused).
For a brochure describing the lectures planned in philosophy,
economics, history, art, and music, write to: SR Conferences,
[OMITTED - SEE LINK TO THE AYN RAND INSTITUTE].
presentation at The Jefferson School last summer in San
Francisco was a dramatized court presentation
Fall 1993 Page 2
cases. Most TJS attendees turned out for the evening presentation,
in which attorneys (Steve Plafker and
Arline Mann) examined witnesses (Michael
Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Andrew Lewis), while
the judge (TJS lecturer Andrew Bernstein) and the
bailiff (Anne Moroney) kept
the "trial" moving.
The audience acted as jury members to deliberate on the two cases through open
first case, a criminal proceeding, raised issues concerning the
proper limitations on one's right to defend one's property
and one's self. The defendant was charged with manslaughter.
He testified that just after purchasing groceries and leaving
a store, he was pushed to the ground by a thief, who grabbed
the groceries and ran away. The defendant ran after the thief
but could not catch him, so the defendant pulled out his
gun (for which he had a license), aimed at the thief's arm,
but tripped before firing the gun and killing the robber.
The jury convicted the defendant after
an animated discussion concerning, among other things, whether
the privilege of defense for one's property is more limited
than the privilege for defense of one's person, and whether
the privilege can be properly exercised only at the moment
of the threat to person or property. The defendant was sentenced
by Judge Bernstein to participation in the Ph.D program in
philosophy at Harvard.
The second case, a civil proceeding, dealt with the rights
of convicted criminals. The plaintiff, a prison inmate, claimed
damages based on the warden's improper conduct. The witness
was the warden, who testified that he had confiscated from
the prisoner a magazine that contained both sexually explicit
material and an editorial critical of prison policies. When
the inmate complained, the warden punched him. The warden
explained that he had confiscated the magazine because the
type of sexual and editorial material it contained were believed
by prison authorities to incite violence in prisons. The
jury decided that the magazine should not have been confiscated
and that the warden should not have punched the prisoner.
Although there was sharp disagreement as to the correct boundary
of the warden's powers, most jury members concluded that
inmates retain certain rights.
the verdict in each case, the TAFOL members discussed with
the audience the current state of the law on the issues
State appellate court has held that the trial court committed
error when it dismissed on jurisdictional
grounds a suit to establish a state-wide
program of mandatory pro bono service for lawyers. The trial court had
ruled that only the Supreme Court of Texas has jurisdiction
to award the relief
sought by the plaintiffs. The appellate court held
that the trial court has jurisdiction
to hear the plaintiffs' case. The case was originally filed in 1991 by
several indigents against the Texas State Bar Association,
alleging that each member
of the bar has a duty to provide free legal services to the poor.
State Bar of Texas has appealed the decision to the Texas
Supreme Court. The appeal asks that the decision of
the court of appeals be reversed and that the case be dismissed,
consistent with the decision of the trial court. A ruling
could take six to nine months, according to Michael Mazzone,
who is a party to the case and expects to present further
arguments against mandatory pro bono, when and if a court
eventually hears the merits of the case.
Plafker gave an interview scheduled to appear in an upcoming
issue of Atlantis magazine.
Copyright © 1993
The Association for Objective Law. All rights reserved.
The Association for Objective Law is a Missouri non-profit
purpose is to advance Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn
Rand, as the basis of a proper legal system.