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BRASS TACKS

WBMS

By Brenton WELLING Jr.

Only seven members of the Supreme Court were on hand Monday when the nation's highest tribunal entered what promised to be one of its greatest years. With senate confirmation of Sherman Minton, however, and the recovery of Justice Douglas, the court will again be at full strength for the heavy work ahead.

Among the most important decisions expected are those on civil rights and interpretation of the fourteenth amendment. At the time of its adjournment in June, the court had not acted on the Henderson case involving segregation on southern railroads, or the disputes concerning segregation in southern universities. The Henderson appeal came up from the Baltimore Federal District Court which ruled that, since there was no evidence of inequality, Henderson, a negro, failed to show where his rights as a citizen were abridged. Thus, the Supreme Court must decide whether, as Henderson alleges, "inequality always accompanies segregation."

The Henderson decision will necessarily affect the opinion on southern college policy. The schools involved claim that they provide "separate but equal" facilities for non-white students.

The Court and Loyalty

President Truman's loyalty program will also be considered this term. Just one day, after the nine justices went home last spring, the District Court in Washington upheld an investigating board in its dismissal of James Bruno from the Post Office Department when he failed to pass a loyalty test.

Judge Holtzoff said, "The Government cannot jail an employee for using the right of free speech, but it can fire him if it doesn't like what he says."

The judge's interpretation will be tested in our highest court. In a previous opinion last April the Justices split 4-4, thus upholding a loyalty test dismissal. With two new men this fall there will certainly be a different vote.

There is, moreover, a lengthy list of people awaiting a Supreme Court definition of requirements for United States citizenship. In this group is Harry Bridges, head of Pacific Coast Longshoremen, who is under Federal indictment for using improper methods in obtaining citizenship in 1945. At that time the government tried to deport Bridges, but the Supreme Court found that the District Attorney did not prove his accusation--Bridges was not a Communist. Two former German Bund leaders, Fritz Kuhn, and August Klaprott, and one of Al Capone's old assistants, Anthony Volpe, may also have their cases reviewed this session. Though the Court crossed the case of Gerhardt Eisler off its agenda in June, it must also do something about the "Number One U. S. Communist" who jumped bail while his appeal was pending. Justice Jackson commented in June, "don't think we can run away from this case just because Eisler has."

The Court and Labor

Because many people thought that the Taft-Hartley Law would be repealed this year a great number of labor suits were put off or not appealed from NLRB decisions. This backlog, including cases concerning the definition of legal picketing methods under the Act is already on the Court docket. And, sooner or later, the Supreme Court will have to give a positive decision on Congressional legislation involving the Wages and Hours Law. So far, for example, the Jusices have refused to decide any appeal made on the Portal-to-Portal bill of 1947.

The Unamerican Activities investigation is over, but the resulting contempt of Congress cases are still to be decided. Among those determined to make the Supreme Court define the limits of such contempt is Eugene Dennis, secretary of the American Communist Party. At its final session last term the Court decided to make him wait a little longer. It looks as if Dennis, and the rest of the country will have the Court's answer to this and some other important questions in a short while.

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