Three high school students from rural Purdy, Mo., challenged their school board's no-dance policy, which was strongly supported by fundamentalist Baptist ministers in the community. When the school board considered changing the policy in 1986, local ministers helped pack a board meeting, and the change was blocked.
The students then filed suit, contending that the no-dance policy was "a symbol of official government endorsement for fundamentalist religious beliefs." A federal judge ruled for the students, but an appeals court in St. Louis overturned that decision on a 5-4 vote.
The appeals court said the school policy was not strictly a religious one and that it reflected the conservative views of a majority of the community. If it were unconstitutional to allow "moral" views to affect school policies, it could also be unconstitutional to ban drinking or swearing at school, the appeals court said.
The high court justices, without comment, refused to hear the appeal. (Clayton vs. Place, 89-1348.)
A 17-year-old male facing a possible death sentence in Alabama lost his fight to avoid extradition when the court refused to hear his appeal.
The young man, identified only by the initials O. M., is charged with arson and murder in the 1988 death of Tamal Jackson, a 1-year-old who was killed when a firebomb exploded inside a Gadsden, Ala., housing complex.
O. M. was arrested in Washington, D.C., in 1988, and has been fighting extradition ever since. His lawyers argued unsuccessfully in Washington courts that his extradition would violate the district government's ban on capital punishment. Moreover, they contended that O. M., who is black, could not get a fair trial in Etowah County, Ala. (O. M. vs. District of Columbia 89-6756.)
Two of O. M.'s uncles, 32-year-old Yul Devoe Guice and an 18-year-old identified only by the initials S. T., also were charged with arson and murder in the death of the Jackson infant.