Entry for April 21, 2007

1996 file photo of Rose Bird from The Recorder, the newsletter established in 1887 by the Bar Association of San Francisco thanks to Steve’s entry for December 4 at Born Today/Died Today. (email) (Frank Zappa also died that date, as did May Swenson. December is a cruel month.

The Blacksburg contra dance was cancelled tonight because of the Virginia Tech shootings.

Today is the anniversaary of the date in 1993 when California resumed capital punishment with the execuition of Robert Alton Harris, after state supreme court Chief Justice Rose Bird and Justices Joseph Grodin and Cruz Reynoso were ousted in a 1986 recall election after a campaign initiated by death penalty supporters. Bird had been desserted by Democratic Party officials afraid of fallout from the controversial Judge, according to an article which appeared in the National Review, “Bye, Bye Birdie.”

An interesting look at the pro and con arguments can be found at RoseBirdprocon.org. According to that site,

The three major groups opposing Chief Justice Rose Bird raised $3,337,179 in 1985: Californians to Defeat Rose Bird, $2,504,847; Crime Victims for Court Reform, $406,983; Law and Order Campaign Committee, $425,394. Chief Justice Bird’s re-election committee (Committee to Conserve the Courts) raised $1,122,191. …At the beginning of 1986, Crime Victims for Court Reform merged with Californians to Defeat Rose Bird to form the California Coalition for Court Reform.

Republican Governor George Deukmejian then appointed three justices in favor of the death penalty to take their places. According to Dick Meister, antipathy towards Rose dated back to Bird’s support of labor during her tenure as Brown’s secretary of labor. A tribute by the court after her death from breast cancer is here. the California Public Defender’s Association established an award in her honor, as did the Califronia Women Lawyers.

The California State Library is the repository for the archive of Californians to Defeat Rose Bird.

Today is also the anniversary of the 1989 protest at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where 100,000 students gathered six days after the death of Hu Yaobang, the deposed reform-minded leader of the Chinese Communist Party.

Roy Cohn and David Schine, two of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief aides, returned on this day in 1953 to the United States after a investigating United States Information Service (USIS) posts in Europe, where thousands of books were removed from USIS libraries in several Western European countries due to their recommendations.

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