Public Affairs; #218; Law Day 1980
Believe. Me and this is LA Day 1980 it's a day set aside by Congress to remind the citizens of the United States that they are living under a government of laws not of men. This means that under the Constitution and under the Bill of Rights and state and local ordinances protections are put into place to protect citizens from what might otherwise become an oppressive government law. Is it time to think about these rights and to realize that the build protections are not automatic. They remain in effect and strong only when the people of a country exercise their rights and make sure that attempts to infringe upon them are unsuccessful. To help you recognize the various rights that now exist in this country and understand the meaning of them New Jersey Public Television is presenting this evening a two hour special program the first hour will feature the 1980 national law survival quiz.
This quiz consists of a series of questions covering areas of consumer law constitutional rights employment rights taxes and the family. The questions are asked by the moderator e.g. Marshall and answered by four prominent attorneys. The quiz itself was sent to 400 public and parochial high schools in New Jersey by the New Jersey State Bar Association. It has encouraged high school students to take this quiz make it a school project and the answers will be provided within the next hour. Following that we have invited four New Jersey attorneys to answer your specific questions either about the quiz or the law as it now exists in New Jersey because we expect the number of calls will far out to sea exceed rather what we will be able to handle on the air. We have set up a phone bank that will be operated by members of the New Jersey bar associations young lawyers section. These phones will be operating between now and 10:30 the S.M. the number that you may call to talk with one of these
young lawyers is 6 0 9 7 7 1 0 7 hundred. You may ask these attorneys anything about the questions on the quiz or to clarify a point of law in New Jersey. With me is Bill free's. He's the chairman of the New Jersey state bar associations young lawyers section. Mr. Free's Why is it important that we pay attention so much attention to law day on this day. While death by presidential proclamation may 1st of each year is set aside so that American people can have better understanding of some of the rights and liberties they're entitled to under the laws of our country. It's not a lawyer or state but rather it's an occasion for people to learn more about the law and or legal process to this end more than 40000 maybe even 50000 individual Law Day programs are being conducted today throughout our country in schools community houses courthouses and on television programs such as yours and it gives members of our profession and members of the judiciary an opportunity to explain to everyone how it is that lost
their lives and given them all a better understanding of how our justice system works. You find that perhaps people do not have a. Clear understanding of the law and how it works. Is it an educational process that has to be continuing. Absolutely. Laws are the basis of our democracy. They are the fundamental aspect of our democracy without them we'd have chaos and anarchy since they are promulgated only through parafoil after careful and thorough review. I think it's fair to say that they accurately reflect the traditions of our people and accurately reflect what our people feel are proper and right and correct ways to act. Do you think that the average person has an appreciation for instance of the protections that are granted to them under the federal Constitution and the state constitution. Well I think the average person is probably somewhat aware of some of the protections they're entitled to. But I think that programs such as this same programs carried on by law law day throughout the country give
them a greater understanding of what rights they are entitled to and how they can best be protected by the laws of our country. Thank you Mr. freezed. Now let's take a look at the 1980 law survival quiz. The moderator is e.g. Marshall. I need your marker your host for today's national survival quiz. What is law. Someone once replied to Laws the most recent decision of the next highest court in 1924 Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo said the law is a guide to conduct is reduced to the level of mere futility if it is unknown and unknowable. His words are an appropriate opening for this program for the purpose of today's panel quiz is to provide you with basic information that will help you know and understand some of your own rights and responsibilities under federal law.
The young lawyer's division of the American Bar Association has assembled an outstanding panel of legal experts to answer a variety of interesting questions about everyday aspects of living. First Ruth Bader Ginsburg professor of law at the Columbia University School of Law in New York next. David Warner chairman of the American Bar Associations young lawyers division and an attorney in Cleveland Ohio. And James Sinclair a partner in the Boston firm of Hale and Gore. He's also former counsel to President Richard Nixon. Minow was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 1961 to 1963 and coined the deathless phrase that television is a vast wasteland. Mr. Miller is now a partner with the Chicago firm of Sidley and Austin. The format for today's national survival quiz is simple. I'll present our panelists with a series of situations and questions about our legal rights
involving five basic areas of our lives consumer rights constitutional rights employment rights taxes and the family during the next hour. Our panelists will respond to the legal questions which cover a range of subjects touching on your life at home and at work. Stay with us. Test your knowledge of the federal law and learn some useful information for us. Let us begin with questions about consumer rights. Professor Ginsburg will ask you the first question a retailer refused to make a refund on goods returned within seven days of the purchase. I'm returning merchandise for a refund. Let the buyer beware. I mean the general rule of consumers should be on guard. Questions should ask to be Tyla what the store's policy is. Some stay to help the consumer require a story to
post their return and refund policy. Now just one or more direct the next question you when you apply for credit must you disclose your marital status. Well no longer do you have to disclose your marital status. A federal law the Equal Credit Opportunity Act says that you may not a retailer may not discriminate on the basis of marital status or sex. So when you go in to apply for credit they may not ask you whether or not you're married and they may not ask your sex actually if they see you they can tell what your sex is but if you do it by mail they'll have no idea whether you're male or female now. The third question is for you may a creditor threaten your credit rating while you are resolving a billing dispute. No. Generally speaking not Mr. Marshall should give a notice in writing to the store or the company that gave you credit if you have a dispute with them and they have to respond within 90 days. And during that 90 day
period they cannot take any steps to in any way impair your credit. However you still remain responsible of course for the portions of the bill that are not in dispute. Mr. Minow I'm asking you this question and the second person is just a device that's minute before you are paying a little you must the credit or inform you of the finance charges. First Mr. Marshall let me say the advice here to go on this program is to be worth what is being paid for it which is nothing but we'll do our best to answer your question is yes the law does require that you under federal law you must be given the charge both in an annual percentage rate and in dollars and cents. Professor Ginsburg back to you. It's going up pretty rapidly going out of sight. Is it legal for a credit card company to send you a credit card. If you've not requested it now that practice
is illegal the card may not stand unless you request it. Of course the company may advertise and it may invite your request but it may not send you the card uninvited. Dies it will be subject to a penalty under federal law. I don't know if that is in London. What should you do with a card that you get that you haven't asked for. Do whatever you like with it you can fill it in the waste paper basket if you wish to report the sender. You can do that so that the law will be enforced. I cut it half first thing I do not to be used by another party. One of the question is you loan was denied because of a poor credit rating. After checking your credit you're fired you find incorrect information. Can you force the credit bureau to correct the file. Yes you can. In fact there are now days you can force the credit union or credit bureau to go back and reinvestigate your credit situation and see if if their records are correct and if
they find this re-investigation process that their records are incorrect they must they must allow you to get the credit you want. Plus they must notify everyone that they have told about you that they had made a mistake and you can you can get that verified you can see the letters that they must send back to the various organizations retailers or what have you. Can I go around and find out what they're saying about me and various credit companies. Yes you can you have a right to ask the credit organizations to give you a copy of the report. They have that they maintain on you so you can check and verify if they're giving you giving information about you that you think is accurate. How do you find out where these credit bureaus are. I think Yellow Pages probably the first place to start. Let your fingers do the walking. Question number seven Mr. Sinclair. Your wallet is stolen. You got your credit card company of the theft. You have to pay for several hundred dollars worth of charges run up by that. No you don't. First of all you have to notify the credit company that your card is lost because you may be responsible for any charges made up
until the time you gave the notice. But under the law you are not responsible for more than $50 during that interval. So the sooner you send the notice out the more protection you have. Any charges made after the notice or not your responsibility is that 50 dollars per credit card or $50 for all your credit card and that I think is pretty generally true. Now throughout the country. So you don't want to take a loss of $50. So it's very important if you lose your card to notify each credit card company that you have a card for us we'll send you a form when they send you cards. Carruthers quickly sent in. Well most of them even have an 800 telephone number you get on the phone and notify them just quickly. Is this the middle question number. If you had to go bankruptcy how long will this fact remain your credit is under the law. It's 10 years. The federal law prohibits the recording of information that's regarded as obsolete. Now if you do go in a bankruptcy proceeding
that will remain in the court records if someone really wants to do their homework and look up to the court records it'll still be there. But the credit history it's been years. Back to you Professor Ginsburg when you buy an article of clothing in a store must the product have a label disclosing what it is made up. Many articles like that label for content not only clothing but food and diet as well. And there are also requirements that clothing labels provide you with instructions about the and care if the garment is in finding garments coming in from outside the country as well as garments are made here in the United States. There are certain requirements. That are imported goods my. And altogether the same. When I say it's OK Will it comes from Taiwan for example you said it made in Taiwan around. I'm not certain if they can't pay for it. To be. Yeah getting on
yes. Yes I remember during the Second World War the firm was putting out products that made it even better but I don't hold the kind of consumer rights question is do you Mr.. Finally you were recently you were bumped off an airline flight due to overbooking they offer you compensation but you wish to sue. Can you bring suit under federal regulation. It's interesting you asked me that because I was recently bumped off a flight. And the answer to that question is yes you can bring a lawsuit. Ralph Nader the consumer advocate brought a lawsuit that went fairly far maybe in the Supreme Court of the United States but that lawsuit established the right of a person who was overbooked to sue the airline company. Now I must add that he had a rather unusual case because he was actually trying to get somewhere. I think he had a speaking engagement or something. So he had he lost out on that speaking engagements that he he did lose a right to be here. That's right. Most of us probably are going on our normal trips get on the next flight. You really haven't lost anything except a couple of hours of time. And I do know that most airlines
now compensate their travelers by giving them i think twice the amount of their air fares over $100 plus hotel room and meals for the night to get to put you on a plane. Well my last question ends our discussion on consumer rights. Let us proceed to constitutional rights. Mr. Sinclair we'll begin with you this time. You live in a small town which requires a permit from the historical society for any structural changes that I made to your home. You want to install a swimming pool in your yard like your permit is denied because the pool does not fit in with the general appearance of the community. Does the historical society have the power to prevent you. Generally speaking they do. However in order to make their rulings enforceable they have to have adopted a set of rules and regulations. Of course it must be reasonably related to the historical development of the area. And when they do all of those things and your property falls
legitimately with the historical area they can prevent you from putting that pool. But the rules regulations have to be reasonable and have to be complied with. So there will be no arbitrary decisions made by preventing me from using my property where I otherwise would want to. So if you had a Greek revival house you'd have to put in a of five folks with me not a. Well I don't have that problem but I think generally speaking not so the middle. The second question you're an ardent opponent and I'm using the second person as divisive. Again you are an ardent supporter of women's rights. You desire to speak in front of women's organization headquarters as you begin to speak a small crowd gathers to you. You're a police officer tells you to move on because the possible danger of this order. Can you or speech be prevented Oh it cannot you have first amendment rights under the Constitution and unless it can be shown that there is a clear danger of a right or disorder you have a right to speak. Now in my house
where I have a wife and three daughters if I was speaking against women's rights or probably would the right to do this or were in prison right. But there clearly I but you do have a right to speak your mind in this country. The president is. While a student was in class the vice principal of a public high school searched several lockers in which she found a few joints of marijuana. May this evidence be turned over to the police and used against the students. That is a very lively issue these days and not a settled one. A number of courts have addressed the question. I've been stuck here with a student's property while school is subject to search and seizure. Some states Kohat have high powered searches of lockers and desks and without warning and particularly when according to the school's own regulations the school is considered the joint custody of
the locker. Judges deciding cases that way see a significant difference between one's expectations with regard to privacy and concerning one's desk or locker at school. On the one hand and one closet all covered at home on the other map versus Ohio applied and this is that because she's an officer of the city and acting in an official capacity. That question is it is search and seizure is declared unconstitutional then can the evidence be used. And if they search it or since it is unconstitutional the evidence may not. But these cases bring up the anterior question is the search committed to the teacher the principal is a representative of the state. I think most courts would take that.
But a student going to a school has to expect that the lockers might be examined by the authorities for whatever reason and that whatever is found there could be used against that person in these jurisdictions and in many cases school regulations so that and notify the students that the locker as they do in the joint custody of the student and the school and the school has access to it. And has there been any discussion on whether the difference between public and private school students. There are different rights in the instances of public schools would be the only place would be applicable because it would involve state action as private schools would be another matter. I would think that the constitutional provision with respect to searches and seizures governing official conduct say conduct government contact not the conduct of a private school. So in a private school situation the student locker who's looked through and found something and turned over to authorities would have no constitutional test and probably not I my own view is that a student in the public school is
as much as a citizen as anybody else and I would think that should be entitled to the protection of the Constitution. I respectfully disagree with the decision to send in the other direction. The whole purpose is going to take the situation with California. We have our state courts that have expressed opinions on this question but it hasn't brought up the Supreme Court that the Supreme Court has not issued any definitive ruling. Looks like a student's locker is not his castle even though he's supposed to lock himself in. Mr. Weiner you write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper charging the mayor with hiring his relatives for important city position as a public official and he sue you for libel. Yeah. First of all as we all know you can almost sue anybody for anything in this country nowadays. I guess the real important question is whether he's likely to win. And I think the answer to that is no. The Supreme Court has said for some time now that public officials have have less protection
than an ordinary citizen does and in order to be successful when there's a public citizen or public official involved you have to show that it was reckless and willful intentional falshood that you issued against this person not just some he was wrong about the state and the different test. Mr. Sinclair a student is expelled from a public school after a teacher reported to the principal that he used obscene language in an argument that had over a homework assignment the principal never asked the student to explain his side of the story. Is this expulsion legal. I think probably not. Mr. Marshall the cases seem to hold in substance not for short term duration suspensions. The school authorities at a minimum to permit the student to give his version of the fact that was not done in the case that to just put to us. On the other hand if you have longer term suspensions let's say in excess of 10 days I would think that
the cases are properly interpreted to require that the school authorities not only give the offending student an opportunity to explain his side of the story but to call witnesses and even engage counsel if he so desired because he should under those circumstances be entitled to the protection of the 14th Amendment. And I've indicated earlier today at least looks upon junior citizens and citizens with substantially the same rights as adults. Fundamentally I think this is a sound line of cases that the courts have decided and I think most school districts now are aware of them and follow them. There's no question if you your state requires compulsory school attendance up to the age of 16. A religious group has a rule which forbids attendance of its children beyond the 8th grade. Can the state force the children to go
to school. I would think not. There was a very specific case in the United States Supreme Court involving the Wisconsin law which involved Amish children. The law in Wisconsin requires compulsory school attendance for all children up to the age of 16. The Amish family said that that violated their freedom of religion. The issue went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court decided with the Amish families it said that to enforce the Wisconsin law would have deprived those families of their constitutional rights of the free exercise of religion. The court acknowledged that the state has an interest in having youngsters go to school but in balancing that right with the freedom of religion to decided the balance had to rest with the freedom of religion and that's the law as it is today. Is there any requirement that the family provide equivalent education in the home.
I thank God not specifically in that case although I think there have been other decisions that indicate that if you provide something equivalent that that will excuse you from the state mandate this will deal only with the Amish and I don't think there was a least time thing is there some states that children can be released from school to go to religious schools and that's counted as part of their education. Yes and some of those laws have come under challenge as well. It would not count for school credit though it would be time off from school. But suppose I hold the same views about education be on the 8th grade on philosophical grounds not religious grounds. What I have the same right to keep my child out of school. My guess is that will be the next generation of cases of the Supreme Court that traditionally has been looked at as a religious issue. One of the tests now is drafted deferment is whether you get
off on religious or philosophical grounds and where the line is between. And I think that's going to unfold in the remainder of this century freedom of philosophy I guess doesn't have the same constitutional base and our freedom of religion does that unless you can put the philosophy closer to the religion like they have done some of the draft cases my guess is they may not get the same result. Of course there is a problem with propelling religion and joy in this country but freedom of religion and the separation of the church from the state. So if you allow religious groups to keep their children out of school beyond the eighth grade but not groups that are religious based. The child might be made that you are preparing religion in violation of the separation of church and state principle. Well first one person's religion is another person's philosophy of the freedom of no religion to write.
Professor Ginsburg this question is you're a labor of a small group whose beliefs are unpopular in the community you wish to hold a rally. Can you be required to pay a fee to cover the cost of police protection. There was a Supreme Court decision back in 1941. That upheld a parade permit law that called for a graduated food the police and a parade up to a maximum of $200 but an hour later to the Supreme Court has invalidated the requirements in a variety of settings inappropriate and restrictions on public expression. The main rule in this area is that even if their views are highly unpopular that you must be permitted to air them in public at least if you are not urging imminent lawbreaking activity the government may impose reasonable restrictions on the time the place and the manner of your
speech. But generally not stopping you from speaking or regulating the content of your expression or your public airport has established a rule requiring persons who engage in any form of solicitation on premises to secure a written permission from the airport directly if you wish to solicit contributions for your favorite charity. Can your airport stop you. I must get all the airline cases I guess here I'm on the handle. It seems to me that you have to look at each each regulation the airport people are trying to impose upon these types groups. But most of them have been held to be unconstitutional. Again it gets into the freedom of speech. The first amendment rights that we all have from the Constitution unless the ordinance is drawn very narrow and very specifically it is not directed to one group or some groups that may be in disfavor those ordinances regulations will be struck down by the courts as being as being a method to keep the speech down. It may not be
popular at that time. We see people in the airports now in favor of nuclear power and against nuclear power. And I think our courts have come down and said well that's as a public place the nation we have a right to do that as long as they're not interfering with the commerce that has to go on there too much the airport can make an announcement. And I think they do to the effect that the whatever solicitations are made if any on their premises that they're not being supported by the airport manager. That's right and I think most of us travel with would recognize right away that it's the people who are listening that are not connected with the airport management but that these days may change. And then you know it may be a different crowd some day. That's correct. That's next question is direct you to say a policeman comes to your door and asks to search your house. You say go ahead. I have nothing to hide. If you find something can he argue it isn't. Can you argue it's an unreasonable search. Not on that state of facts Mr. Marshall. If I permit
a policeman without any objection on my part to search my premises and he finds something there that he later wants to use against me I will be held to have waived my protections under the Constitution. But on the other hand if I let him go through my house and search it because he in some way has indicated that I might be subjected to some duress if I don't let him go through then my waiver and permission to him to search the house is not freely given and I can prevent the material of the fines from being used against me at a later time. But if it's purely voluntary on my part as you stated in your question and I have given up any right that I may have to protest against the use of anything he finds in my house or any member of your family your son or a daughter property I guess that so although I don't know that that clear. The main reason that I have authority members of my household to
permit the search but that would be a different case. I'd like to think a little bit more about that. What would what would you do if a client came to you and said or called you up more likely and said the police was at my door. And Jim you know shot and I don't have anything to hide. You know I'm a law abiding citizen as you well know. I let him come through for some reason he wants to look around my house. I think my immediate advice would be no. Just out of precaution lawyers I think serves our clients best to try to investigate the facts before they give them advice as to what they should or should not do when someone calls you out of the blue. I think when you come down on the side of no not for the moment maybe at a later time but not now that the election is over. There are some recent cases I've seen in California where a car was stopped and they wanted to look in the trunk of the car and the wife said OK the husband was either not paying attention or whatever the question was whether the wife's permission applied to
the husband. And I think the court has held that it did not see the driver as the driver. He was the captain of the ship and he should have been the one to get oh I don't know maybe he could have said OK and then they found something that would be used against the wife and she said I didn't tell him you could do that. Now Mr. Bennett are you all land in Florida that the federal government wants your property to put up an aircraft because you don't get all the aircraft the government the federal governments to put up an aircraft beacon and they take your property probably yes you are entitled to fair compensation for your property. You are entitled to a proceeding in which the government must establish that your properties will be used for a public purpose and for some other purpose and you will probably have an argument with the government about what you consider to be a fair price and you're entitled to present a case and have a review of it. But the chances are that in the long run the government has the right to take the property if it will be meet
those conditions. Ginsburg good would you set out stari decisis for the last thing you can do that. So they understand what we're talking about. What is law law is the most recent decision of the next highest court. Just explain that. The idea that the matter has been decided the court has decided a particular issue a particular way. It will then stand by that decision and follow it in the next case. It's not an entirely ironclad rule. Generally the courts do follow what they decided in the past. But there will be exceptions to keep the law consistent with changing circumstances. I decide this means the matter has been decided. The precedent established will be followed in future cases. So the lawyers correct the books and find the previous cases what the precedent and offer that to the to the court. That's the law
well while you're on your way home from a party you were arrested by a policeman for speeding. Can he serve you. The Supreme Court has had that case and it has ruled that once a court has been lawfully stopped for a traffic violation like speeding the police may order the driver to get out of the car. And then if the police officer sees something suspicious for example a large ball is in your pocket and then the officer patted down for weapons it under the local law or state or community that police officer can make a full blown arrest for the particular traffic violation and then they can do a more complete search incident to that arrest and search the car. To me that is a gun in the glove compartment or something but only if they have
authority to make a full arrest for arrest I mean taking the person into the police station as opposed to giving them a ticket. Is that what we're talking about. Speeding is not even a misdemeanor really is it a minor offense that you couldn't be arrested for speeding unless there were contributed things like drunkenness or drug abuse or something like that. But for something obviously wrong with the car though sometimes I can take him to the station for speeding and the police threatened to engage in the the rules on traffic. Violations are hardly uniform throughout the country. There are various things from state to state. Even communities within states you know local ordinances. Mr. Weiner a question on court ordered transfusions. If a child has a rare blood disease which requires transfusions in order to sustain his life maybe the court ordered the transfusions. That's an interesting question. It comes up more frequently than you might imagine.
What happens is that some some parents for religious or philosophical reasons I don't believe in transfusions mixing the blood of someone else with that blood is in the child's system already. Most states and I don't know if this is true. All 50 states but I think the vast majority would say that the ultimate care of that child is not in the hands of the parents but it's in the hands of the state. And so what I think you see happening in this situation is that the doctor is through the hospital where the patients will go to the court usually through the hospital's lawyers and go to the court to probate court. In most states and ask the court to appoint a guardian for the purpose of maintaining this child's life and then that guardian will go to the court and present with the medical witness to back them up the fact that this that the medical authorities believe that a transfusion is necessary to keep this child's child's life alive. At that point the courts would normally come forward and say yes the transfusion should be held in and will order the transfusion done regardless of whether the parents want it done or not. You can take them out of
school because of your religion but you can't prevent them from giving you a blood transfusion because of your religion. And I think it's a very sane rule. Yes yes. We did a different descriptor about that. The patient the child became a ward of the court. We've got a court judge and there's a yes you are hereby awarded the court and we order the transfusion from the vaccination case. I don't know I have never seen one of those but I assume the rule is the same because it sound like it would be appropriate. That was decided in. Many years ago by the Supreme Court that you had if the state has a requirement that you vaccinate your child before the school year begins you must observe that requirement even if it's against your religious conscience because of the public interest is at stake that might become a carrier of smallpox but not right. Mr. Sinclair you are. Final question in this section as a member of a conservation group you are aware that a local fish is threatened with extinction may you
personally petition the federal government to classify the fish as an endangered species for its protection. Well my fishing isn't so good as to endanger in this particular species but the answer to your question is yes. The Department of the Interior and the secretary of the Interior has a statutory duty to maintain the list of fish and animals birds that he considers to be an endangered species and he has to make certain findings with respect to each of these species before he places them on this list. Once on that list and that list can result from my calling his attention to a particular species. There are very stiff penalties both by fine and otherwise for killing any of those listed dangerous species. A little understood but quite important we recently had. A case that I guess down in the
Tennessee Valley Authority with respect to the diversity and are going to be. Never saw one. I've only seen pictures of them. You know Mr. Minal recently you were the victim of a mugging. The police have narrowed down the field of suspects to one. You have a right to compel the state to prosecute a suspect. I was just thinking that one endangered species in this country is somebody who hasn't been mugged or where the crime is going but the answer your question is No. The only person who can decide whether to prosecute is the prosecutor in the state or the federal prosecutor. Private citizen cannot make that decision. The prosecutor has discretion in making the decision as to whether or not to prosecute. And there is no way that a citizen can force a prosecutor to make that decision one way or
the other. You if you're a victim of a mugging or any other physical court or attack upon you have a right to sue that person who did that to you for for damages civilly. You cannot force the prosecutor to prosecute. You think instr. the state to really reimburse someone for injuries done under such circumstances I think there are efforts being made now to establish a fund that didn't compensate citizens who have been injured in the crime. The theory I guess is that the state is not going to get another job in preventing it and everybody ought to pay well. I'm also very sympathetic to the idea that the criminal should have to compensate the victim and repay or reimburse the victim and to find him no. Right. But I mean if you do have some judges think that perhaps that in some ways is a more effective kind of punishment and result than sending someone to prison
is that the same rules that apply to commercial situations like if you're a businessman and someone gives you a bad check and you then the person that the person is giving you the check is going out of business and you can't get the money from them. Can you turn that check over the prosecutor and demand the prosecutor to take some criminal criminal action and all or the same thing is the same thing as Drew. You can ask the prosecutor and you can try to persuade the prosecutor but the decision rests with the prosecutor. And this concludes the first half of our national law survival quiz program. We'll return in a moment to investigate your rights and the areas of employment taxation and the family. I want to remind you that while you are watching the 1980 National last survival quiz the phone lines are open. Members of the young lawyers section of the New Jersey State Bar Association. Will Continue To answer your questions regarding the queries and clarify points of law unique in New Jersey. The number is 6 0 9 7 7 1 0 7 6 0 9 7 7 1 0
7 hundred. At the conclusion of the quiz we will invite phone calls live for the next hour and a panel of legal specialists will be in our studios to respond to questions concerning various parts of the program. GINSBURG of the Columbia School of Law. David Wiener Cleveland attorney and Andy Sinclair former counsel to Richard Nixon and Newton Minow former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. We'll resume our questioning with the topic of employment rights. Let's start with you Mr. Sinclair. May your state require you to be available for work on your Sabbath in order for you to collect unemployment compensation. Know the answer to that is no. The Supreme Court has held that any such requirement is permissible because it violates the freedom of religion and the individual involved I blame Mr. middle you're a man.
And your co-worker performs substantially the same work. However your co-worker of the female gender receives $2000 more per year than you. Is this something the government can act upon. Yes. The federal law is clear that with certain exceptions an employer will violate the law. If the employer pays an employee of one sex more than an employee of the opposite sex for equal work equal work is defined in the federal statute as a job performance of which requires equal skill effort and responsibility and performance or similar working conditions. And the government can bring a suit to force an employer to pay the person discriminated against the difference. Also the person discriminated against can bring a suit on his or her own or her own in the federal court. Now most of the cases involve women who were paid less than men
rather than men who were paid less than women. But the rights under the law would apply equally to men and women. And I remember in Los Angeles County I don't know if it's still true today. Male nurses received $10 more per day and female. That certainly would be struck down. Was Los Angeles County Professor Ginsburg the shop you wish to work in requires that you sign a contract stating you will never join a union. Is this against your rights. Yes clearly it is. And every decade of this century that kind of contract could be demanded of a worker. It was known as a yellow dog contract. But today I got a dog contact with be in flagrant violation of the National Labor Relations Act. That is a federal law that safeguards the rights of workers to organize to join unions. And to bargain collectively with their employers.
The next question Mr. Weiner. You are a woman and have applied for a state job which requires that you pass an exam. Many of the questions appear to be oriented to male experience and are unrelated to the job. Could the exam be considered a form of sex discrimination if it is found to be. Can you make the state give you the job. And that's a good question and I think it applies equally whether it's male or female. And the answer is yes. If if the examination discriminates against one sex in favor of the Other than that that examination on its face violates Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act and that is discriminatory and you can you have a remedy under that law. You want to make sure the law the test is not discriminatory and then it too to take care of your employment situation. Mr. Sinclair a U.S. State Police force has a mandatory requirement rule retirement at age 50. You are turning 50 next week. And feel that to force you to retire is unconstitutional. Were you with.
No I won't. There's a Massachusetts case that went to the Supreme Court on this point in Massachusetts where I come from we require our state police to retire at age 50. And one of the state police will challenge that law because of the new federal law that exists that prohibits enforced retirement. In many instances below the age of 70 the court held first the federal law did not apply to police and firemen and secondly that the requirement of early retirement if you will was rationally related to the duties that he was expected to perform. I take it that the legislature in Massachusetts felt that a policeman over the age of 50 might be slowing down a little bit. And the Supreme Court held that that was a proper exercise of the state power to require his resignation. However the other persons not in similar situations are protected by a new federal law based somewhat on their performance but on their level of income. But under
many circumstances you cannot require a person to retire prior to the age of 70. You are you're a nurse working for a large hospital your union goes on strike and after three weeks the hospital fires all of its striking members and hires replacements. Is this an unfair labor practice. Yes it would violate the National Labor Relations Act to discharge a lawfully striking employee I emphasize lawfully because it has to be a lawful strike. If there is a lawful strike you can't be fired for exercising your right to strike. An employer may replace a striker to continue business and a person who's striking about an unfair labor practice must be reinstated when the strike is over. Workers who strike to obtain economic benefits must be reinstated when the job becomes available. That's one of the basic changes in the labor law in the early days.
Professor Ginsburg does an earned income such as dividends on stock interest on bank deposits. Affect how much money Social Security recipients can receive. Now currently airing income wages and salary. They do not interest or dividends nor does their private pension affect Social Security benefits and winning's on race track events and lottery and so forth. Also I suppose the other thing would not apply. It would not you your social security payments to be reduced if not earned income. That means you have as much stock as you wanted and get dividends from adenine bank accounts and it wouldn't affect your monthly Suku going to get a million dollars a year in dividends and still collect on Social Security because you paid in for Mr Winter. Your final question on employment. Does the amount of Social Security benefits which an individual receives depend on the amount of average wages
he received while employed. Yes it does. And there is a chart. The government has and I don't know all the numbers on it but basically the more the more income you make the more your Social Security benefits are going to be. With two important caveat to that one. Once you have made up to the maximum amount of money on this chart I think for 1980 purposes I think it's twenty five thousand dollars and twenty five thousand nine hundred are something that range than anything you make over that will not affect your social security benefits. That's that's the ceiling on it. And on the other hand the minimum social security is $180. Now no matter what your income was prior to prior to the time you start your Social Security benefits which you say you have the final question unemployment. Do social security benefits start automatically when you reach 65. No they don't. You must apply for them. In order to obtain them although you can have someone apply for you. But some step has to be taken by
you or by someone on your behalf. They will not come automatically. And that of course applies to Medicare as well. So this settlement now moves into a discussion on taxes. Mr. MILLER We begin with you. You have sold the house you have owned for 35 years at a considerable profit. Eleven months later you buy another home at a lesser amount with the profit you may be subject to income tax. I have a client Mr. Marshall who said he wanted to have a one handed lawyer because all the answers he ever got from lawyers that were on the one hand and on the other. And that is. How it really depends if you are over 55 years old and if you lived in that house as your principal residence for throughout the last five years before you sold it then you are allowed to take a $100000 exclusion. You can take $100000 a day without paying any tax. That's on the one hand. In this case
you bought a house for less money and you had a profit greater than $100000 and you also if you were under 55 then you would have to pay tax and treat it as a capital gain. Professor Ginsburg. Your neighbors have a tag or a garage sale every weekend must they declare and pay taxes on this income. I didn't know she lived in the same neighborhood. Well here we have it on the one hand. Yes. All income from whatever source derived is taxable under the Internal Revenue Code less specifically exempted tag of garage sales are not specifically exempted and therefore your neighbors must pay federal tax federal income tax on the sales. One caveat of course it is not always clear just what is income but one guide seems reasonably safe.
If you receive cash for personal property as in the case of a garage sale that game will be income and use those to pay sales tax and in states where they have sales tax. That would be required of the purchaser if it if there is such applicable tax. I bet not many people pay that sales tax. You know that goes right into the special fund. When you and your spouse have recently divorced. My wife will be happy that what I heard your periodic alimony payments taxable income to you. Well. The thing on alimony is that the person receiving it the spouse receiving it now days with a lot of a lot more women than them in the labor force than we used to have. Often you see women paying alimony to two women to men. But the basic rule is that whoever receives the alimony that is income to the recipient it's a tax deduction for the person paying it. And
there's one other aspect too important in there and that's usually the child support. Usually we have alimony if they're children you have child support that is not a taxable situation not taxable on either either and how do you know which is which. Well that's usually up to the lawyers when you when you work out either through the court when you're divorced or when you have your settlement if the court does bless you. You set aside so much proud knowing so much for child support and the court has to agree to that. Right. In most states that's the case even with dissolution laws being what they are. The court still has the blessing the agreement made between the spouses. But I do hope it's up to the clients as counsel by the lawyer rather than up to the lawyers. I think I think I think it is right there. The key part is that if some people try to I think now they have to do divorces on their own without even seeing lawyers and what happens they get they get stuck in this quandary where they make a payment each month that they don't they haven't said whether that's alimony or child support and he has a significant difference tax Why what would the court accept the separation agreement that wasn't satisfactory to it.
I don't know that's a good question. I would hope not. And hopefully most courts will be you know aware of that. Mr. Sinclair must someone have a legitimate business need before they may have access to your credit record. Yes under the new fair credit reporting act there can be general access to your credit records although a court can order access and I can make my credit records voluntarily available. Other than that though a person who once Access has demonstrated a legitimate business with. No last tax question. Professor GINSBURG If you retire and retire early for example at age 62 are the basic benefits permanently reduced. Yes they are but should you return to work. So from age 63 to 65 then Social Security will refigure your future benefits.
Thank you. Now we come to the final segment of our program which deals with our legal rights as a family. We'll start with David Weiner. Mr. Weiner can a man or woman just inherit their spouse by will. Yes they can. I think a lot of spouses will be surprised to hear that. But a husband or wife could say in their will that they don't they don't believe in any of their state to their spouse. The interesting thing there is that most states have laws to protect that the surviving spouse and there's lot of work to this in this way that if that is the provision in the will the spouse can elect to inherit not under the will but under the state statute in the state statute will usually provide that spouses and child to some percentage of the seat in the state 30 percent 20 percent 50 percent. But there will always be something for the surviving spouse. I know that states that you know I think most states have that list he or she become a public charge. Well I think that's part of it and probably also it's just
you know usually spouses have worked together to provide this estate it wouldn't be fair to leave it leave the way that we're going to get into that I think because it seems to me being a husband that the wife is just as much the earner of that husband's income as he is. And it shouldn't be taxed as income to our second question goes to Mr. St. Clair. A student has been doing very poorly in school. She claims the teacher is out to get her. Can the parents ask the school to let them see her school records. Yes. That is so particularly in public schools. The parents have a right to examine the records of their child and see whether or not they're accurate and they're not accurate they have a right to insist that they be corrected. And in general I think that this is a sound proposition I think it makes school officials a little more responsible in what they put in students records. So due process right. Mr. Miller Our next question may refused to do a prospective tenant because they have children.
Yes. At least under federal law there although there are federal laws that would prohibit discrimination or running on grounds of sex or race or creed. There are no federal laws that prohibit the landlord from refusing to rent to families with children. There may be some state or local situation which is but not the federal level. A few minutes left now for these final two questions are going to be your employer does not offer a pension plan. Is there any way for you to say personally tax free some part of your income for your retirement you know. You may and I are on an individual retirement account. Normally at a bank account you may deposit each year up to fifteen hundred dollars of your earned income and that amount that you deposited will not be taxed until you withdraw it
from the account. Your spouse may be eligible as well by his or her own IRA or for additions to the deposits in your account. Thank you. Mr. Weiner the final question of the program will be directed to you. You have moved in in order to get a new telephone. The company requires your social security number. Can you be denied service for failure to provide them with the number. Yes you can. Laws that a telephone company being a private business has a right to demand what they want of you. Information wise and Social Security number it is something that falls within that spectrum. State and Federal and local governments may not be able to get that information but a private business can. During the past hour we posed a few questions to our distinguished panelists in an effort to improve your understanding of your rights and responsibilities under the law. Please note that these questions and answers were prepared by the young lawyers division of the American Bar Association and I based upon laws in effect at the time of their publication. They are
intended for general informational purposes only and are issued as a public service and not as a substitute for a pending legal advice from an attorney in your state. We've barely been able to cover the tip of the legal iceberg today. You probably have questions of your own which affect your home your family your personal affairs. You should seek out the answers to these questions. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Each citizen owes it to himself to be fully aware of the laws that affect his or her well-being. I'd like to thank our distinguished panelists for their participation today from their responses. It is clear why each has risen to eminence in the field of law professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Attorney David Weiner attorney James D.S. clear attorney. And on behalf of the young lawyers division of the American Bar Association. I'd like to thank you for watching today's program. If you have further questions about the law and your own state or wish to contact a qualified
attorney call a lawyer referral service in your community for further information. Lawyer Referral Service is designed to put you in contact with an attorney in your state with qualified to handle your particular problem. You've. Been watching the 1980 national law survival quiz and we've invited a panel of legal experts to our studio to see how to respond to questions concerning your rights as a citizen of the United States. We'll be back with those questions in just a moment. Just. Ten seconds. We're continuing with our program to celebrate the Law Day 1980 and this
next hour we'll be taking your questions concerning your rights as an American citizen. Arthur Horne is the chairperson of the state bar associations realty proper real property in probate and trust in law section. He'll be answering questions about real estate and wills. And as well as Chairman person of the bar associations family law section. And that's her special area for the program. Ken Mizer is the deputy director for the division of public interest in the public Advocate's office she'll respond to questions about tenant landlord legal problems and Edwards Edwin Steere is the director of Criminal Justice Division under the state attorney general. Will answer questions about criminal law in New Jersey. And we have gleaned some of the calls being received from members of the young lawyers section and they are going to be continuing to answer the phones in our studios until 10:30 the if any
- Public Affairs
- Episode Number
- Law Day 1980
- Contributing Organization
- New Jersey Network (Trenton, New Jersey)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- Newton Minow is a panelist on the 1980 National Law Survival Quiz, along with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
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- Public Affairs
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- AAPB Contributor Holdings
New Jersey Network
Identifier: UC60-845 (NJN ID)
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- Chicago: “Public Affairs; #218; Law Day 1980,” 1980-00-00, New Jersey Network, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 5, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-259-fn10s08r.
- MLA: “Public Affairs; #218; Law Day 1980.” 1980-00-00. New Jersey Network, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 5, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-259-fn10s08r>.
- APA: Public Affairs; #218; Law Day 1980. Boston, MA: New Jersey Network, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-259-fn10s08r