Kennedy Shuns Amendments To Criminal Code Revision

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass.) on Monday rejected requests from 16 representatives of labor unions, liberal and women's groups that he withdraw his support of a bill that would reform the federal criminal code.

The groups oppose Senate Bill 1437, which Kennedy co-sponsors, because they believe some sections of the bill would infringe on civil liberties.

National groups protesting the bill include the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Democratic Action, the National Organization for Women and the United States Congressional Black Caucus.

The Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts released a statement Monday which said the group opposes the bill "because it would significantly expand the criminal law in areas damaging to civil liberties."

Kennedy said he will not withdraw his support for the bill as "no new views were presented to him at Monday's meeting," a spokesman for Kennedy said yesterday.


The spokesman, who wished to remain unidentified, also said Kennedy's refusal to withdraw support for his bill did not mean that "there are no other views that will cause him to change his mind."

Vern Countryman, professor of Law and a member of the National Committee on Repressive Legislation, said yesterday the bill "infringes upon citizens' rights to know what the government is doing, and to form views on government activity."

The National Committee is a member of the Boston Coalition to Stop Senate Bill 1437, the Boston group coordinating protest against Kennedy's support of the bill.

Countryman said the bill appeals to the "law and order boys" and to those "not concerned about the First Amendment."

Allen M. Dershowitz, professor of Law and an adviser to Kennedy on the bill for two years, said yesterday he is "ambivalent" about the bill in its present form.

Dershowitz said he objects to provisions of the bill introduced on the Senate floor, but is "confident" some of the worst provisions will be changed in the House of Representatives. Dershowitz said he believes it will be significantly improved in its final form.

Dershowitz said the bill is a "fairly decent compromise" because "the majority of Americans support no civil liberties for criminals."

Dershowitz added that much of the opposition to S. 1437 is opposition to existing criminal laws.