Approximately 200 people gathered outside the Ames Moot Court competition at the Law School last night to protest what they call the Burger Court's "repressive" decisions undermining civil rights.
Sixteen law school groups organized the demonstration to protest the planned appearance of U.S. Chief Justice Warren Burger as the judge for the annual Ames Court competition, but U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall replaced Burger, who entered the hospital last week suffering from a serious back condition.
The demonstrators waved placards reading "We Don't Relish Burger" and "Justice Misconceived," sang songs, chanted slogans expressing opposition to Burger Court decisions they said discriminate against minorities, the poor, gays, and women, although Marshall has dissented from many of these decisions.
Speakers from the Abortion Action Coalition, the Gay Legislation, a prominent Massachusetts lobby for gay rights, and the National Conference of Black Lawyers addressed the demonstrators.
Frank K. Moss, a third-year law student and one of the organizers of the demonstration, said last night he found the large turnout encouraging.
"In view of what Harvard Law School represents any showing is really something," he said.
Beckman Rich, a third-year law student, said last night the Burger Court decisions "are bad law--they are formalistic and ignore the values the court is supposed to be sensitive to."
The law school groups sponsored other activities this week, including a teach-in Wednesday night. They also circulated an open letter with 467 signatures asserting that "the Burger Court has responded with callous indifference to the urgent claims of those seeking justice through the legal system."
In an 11-page leaflet distributed during the demonstration, the 16 law school organizations supporting the protest outlined specific grievances against the Burger Court ranging from restrictions on prisoners' rights to limitations on abortion.