- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2006


Parents who sued a California school district over a sex survey given to students lost a Supreme Court appeal yesterday.

Justices declined to review an appeals court ruling that dismissed the suit against the Palmdale School District.

The parents claimed their constitutional rights were violated when the district conducted surveys that asked students how often they thought about sex, among other questions. The parents said they had the sole right “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex.”

However, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said parents of public school children have no “fundamental right” to be the exclusive provider of sexual information to their children.

The district, north of Los Angeles, had dropped the survey in 2002 amid complaints from parents. The poll was given to children in the first, third and fifth grades.

It was part of a program to gauge exposure to early trauma and to assist in designing a program for children to overcome barriers to learning, according to the district.

The Supreme Court yesterday also let stand a mandatory 55-year prison sentence, condemned as excessive by the federal judge who imposed it, for a man convicted of carrying a handgun during three marijuana deals.

Record producer Weldon Angelos received the minimum sentence under the law — a harsher sentence than a child rapist or a terrorist who detonates a bomb aboard an aircraft would receive, according to his attorneys. The justices, without comment, left the prison term undisturbed.

Angelos was convicted of 16 counts of violating federal firearms, drug and money-laundering laws in 2003. The charges stemmed from his sale of three 8-ounce bags of marijuana to an undercover informant.

He had a gun but never brandished or used it. Nevertheless, the three counts of possession of a firearm in a drug transaction required the mandatory minimum sentence.

Four former attorneys general and 145 former prosecutors and judges wrote in support of a lighter sentence for Angelos.

Even the sentencing judge, U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell, an appointee of President Bush, called the sentence “unjust, cruel and irrational.” But he said the law left him no choice. Prosecutors said the sentence was appropriate, and an appeals court agreed.

In other action yesterday, the Supreme Court turned down:

• The effort by a Philippine lawyer who is a longtime smoker to sue R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for engaging in a global conspiracy to suppress information about the addictive aspects of cigarettes.

• The effort of the Oneida Indian Nation to reverse New York court rulings invalidating the tribe’s gaming compact with the state.

• A lawsuit in which a pro-life group sought to fly its aerial banners of aborted fetuses over Honolulu.

• An appeal by an Oklahoma Supreme Court justice who sued his colleagues over a rule change he says blocked him from becoming chief justice.

• The case of two Maine Maritime Academy graduates caught up in a state crackdown on tax cheats. At sea for months at a time, the two were indicted for failing to pay income taxes and tax evasion from 1997 to 2002.

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