Virginia Minute of Silence Upheld; Vermont Vote; Chinese Body Parts

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November 3, 2000

This week a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia ruled that public schools can continue requiring students to hold a minute of silence in classrooms. The American Civil Liberties Union asked the judge to overturn this law, arguing that prayer is not only being allowed, but also encouraged through this silent time which they believe violates the Constitution‘s separation of church and state clause. Chief U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton ruled that the Virginia law is secular and does not promote or inhibit religion. The ACLU is disappointed with this decision and plans to appeal the ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Vermont Vote
While many will vote in Vermont on Tuesday, November 7, their vote may not be what decides the race for governor. The Vermont Constitution requires a candidate to receive at least 50 percent of the vote or the newly elected Legislature selects the governor. The three candidates in this state are head-to-head in a difficult race, and with three candidates this vote is likely to go to the new Legislature to decide. Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signed a law allowing “civil unions” which has caused uproar in the state, and if he wins the people’s vote he may still lose his seat in office.

Chinese Body Parts
There is a web-based trade of human organs in China where poor but healthy Chinese have started to sell body parts through “middlemen.” Most of the body parts the middlemen receive are from imprisoned criminals who are scheduled to be executed. Advertisements on the Internet have offered bone marrow, kidneys from living human bodies, and cornea from healthy individuals with sight. China’s Public Heath Ministry has refused to comment about reports that a draft is underway of a law to ban the trade of organs and legalize organ donation.

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