July 4, 1978 – A day of peace feelers and reflecting on decisions. Peace feelers came in the form of vice-President Mondale returning from the Middle East, where he spent the better part of the weekend in Israel and some two hours with Egypt’s Anwar Sadat. Mondale and his team of officials stepped of Air Force Two, tired but feeling a sense of accomplishment. The Egyptians and Israelis were far apart on the basic Middle East issues, but the Americans felt they had been able to, as one Administration official put it; “get the negotiation track moving”. Face-to-face meetings later on in July in London had been virtually nailed-down. Egypt was expected to send its Foreign Minister and Israel was expected to do the same. Observers went on to say the Mondale visit was successful if, for no other reason, it got the Egyptians and Israelis to recognize there was a huge gap and the size of differences between them. Millimeters and inches.
In other news – The fourth ceasefire in three days was shattered as fighting erupted in rocket and gunfire between Christian militia units and Syrian troops of the Arab Peace keeping force in East Beirut.
SCOTUS wrapped up its 1977-1978 term with a slew of decisions; among them, struck down the Capitol Punishment law in Ohio as unconstitutional and indicated firm backing for Affirmative Action programs. Highlight for the session was the much-publicized Bakke Case. Big losers were the news media, with overturning lower court rulings on Radio and TV networks broadcasting the Nixon Watergate tapes. Next came upholding Police search of newsrooms; that journalist had no right of access to report on jails and prisons. And finally, in the “7 Dirty Words” case, that the FCC could make it illegal for broadcasters to use words the FCC considered indecent. In other decisions – the courts ruled that Ambulance-chasing lawyers could be punished for soliciting clients at accident scenes – OSHA inspectors would be required to obtain search warrants before inspecting business premises; that a Tennessee dam could not be completed because it would wipe out the tiny Snail Darter and that Congress could be a limit on the damages the public could recover in case of a nuclear power plant disaster. In the Bakke Reverse Discrimination case, the court ruled that rigid racial quotas were illegal, but that some affirmative action programs that favor non-whites were legal. The Justices then left for the summer, leaving everyone to wonder, “who won the Bakke case?”
And that’s a little of what went on, this Fourth of July in 1978, as presented by the CBS World News Roundup.