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June 29, 1977 – A big news day on Capitol Hill as the Supreme Court was holding their last session of the term and would be handing down two landmark decisions. One on the Death Penalty and the other on the issue of Abortion. This was the end of a busy term for the court; handing down some 152 signed opinions since the previous October, more than average in recent years. The issue of the constitutionality of imposing the Death Penalty for rape. Only Georgia had a Death Penalty law for the rape of an adult woman, and SCOTUS was to decide if this was cruel and unusual punishment. The other issue at hand was whether to follow up on its recent Abortion decision and lift a lower court’s stay that had prevented the Department of HEW from cutting off all funds for non-therapeutic abortions. If it did so, Federal Medicaid for Abortions would cease immediately. The Senate had intended to discuss abortion the previous day in its debate on the Appropriations Bill for the departments of HEW and Labor, but instead it got hung-up on another emotionally charged matter; Busing. At issue was an amendment already approved with different language by the House, that would prohibit HEW from withholding Federal money from School districts that refused to use the merging or pairing of schools as a means of de-segregation and it lead to an impassioned argument. When the smoke cleared the Senate kept the anti-busing amendment, in effect telling HEW to get out of the school busing business. The Senate was slated to resume debate on the Appropriations bill later on this day.
All that, and a lot more going on this June 29, 1977 as presented by Dallas Townsend and The CBS World News Roundup.