Court to Let CLE Name Nixon as Civil Defendant
Lawyers for Harvard's Center for Law and Education (CLE) have won a Federal court ruling in Washington allowing them to continue to name President Nixon as a defendant in a civil suit.
As a result of the ruling Monday by Judge June Green of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, the court will probably issue an injunction against the President after a hearing next week, Daniel Rosenfelt, a CLE attorney handling the case, said Monday.
Such an injunction would compel Nixon to appoint a national advisory council to supervise implementation of the Indian Education Act of 1972.
Rosenfelt said that Green's decision marked "the first square, clear ruling that the judicial branch has jurisdiction over the president."
David Anderson, a Justice Department lawyer, said yesterday, however, that the court's decision "is not a final order."
He said that he does not "know what significance it will have," until an injunction is issued.
Rosenfelt said that the Indian act is the only Federal schooling program for non-reservation Indians, and would affect about 250,000 students, including many in Boston. He said that the funds will lapse at the end of the fiscal year unless Nixon establishes guidelines for its implementation.
The CLE is representing nine plaintiffs including several Indian tribes and Indian-controlled school boards.
It is co-counsel in the case, along with the Native American Rights Fund. Four defendants, including Casper Weinberger '38, secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, were named in addition to President Nixon.
Phillip Million spokesman for the Office of Education of the HEW, said yesterday that his office had filed an affidavit in District of Columbia Federal court late last week recommending that the national advisory council be appointed by May 15.
He said that the Office of Education would be ready to go ahead with the program pending the outcome of the case.
Rosenfelt said that the HEW affidavit was prompted by the CLE's suit, but that presidential action was still needed for implementation of the program.
The Office of Management and the Budget had asked HEW to rescind funds for the Indian schooling program soon after it was passed by Congress, Million said.
He indicated that the White House was probably consulted by HEW before it filed the affidavit.
Rosenfelt said that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the government appealed the decision, but added that he thought it would lose such an appeal.