The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today all lead with the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that school districts may not be held responsible for sexual relations between teachers and students unless school officials know about and fail to stop the activity. The New York Times makes the school ruling its off-lead but goes its own way by leading with the Clinton administration’s order of sweeping new protections for Medicare recipients that will require private health plans treating them to guarantee access to specialists, the provision of translators when needed and medical record confidentiality. The order also grants Medicare beneficiaries the right to obtain information about the financial condition of a private heath plan and about how its doctors are paid.
USAT notes that the Court’s school decision will make it much harder for student victims of sexual abuse and harassment to win damages. The LAT adds that this will be true even at schools that fail to establish sexual harassment policies and fail to give students a way to complain about abuses. The NYT reports that in his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said the decision gives school districts an incentive not to take steps to protect students. The Times lead editorial says the decision “perversely deprived” students and their families of an effective legal remedy. The WP best communicates the scope of the ruling by eschewing in its lead sentence the generality of “sexual abuse” (LAT) and “sexual relations” (USAT) in favor of the concreteness of referring to students who are “sexually taunted, groped or harassed.” Everybody points out that the Court will be ruling soon on the similar question of employer responsibilities regarding supervisors’ sexual harassment of workers in a job setting. But there is another bit of context missing from all accounts: what responsibilities the law currently assigns to school districts with regard to other sorts of teacher misconduct.
In a story that’s sure to develop in the days ahead, the WP off-lead reports that U.N. investigators have evidence that before the Gulf War, Iraq put nerve gas into missile warheads.
The USAT and NYT fronts report that the painkiller Duract is off the market after being implicated in the deaths of four patients and in the liver damage suffered by eight others. The story is also flagged in the WSJ’s front-page news box and runs inside at the WP. The NYT says the FDA pulled the drug while USAT, the Wall Street Journal and the WP say the drug’s manufacturer took the action. The papers all observe this is the latest in a string of prescription drug recalls, raising the issue of whether such drugs are now being allowed to come to market too fast.
The LAT front reports that at a time when South Korea has been taking a softer line regarding North Korea, a midget North Korean submarine of the sort often used in spy missions has been captured off the South Korean coast. The story runs inside at the NYT and WP.
With stories inside, the WP and NYT report that Russia has agreed to sell India two commercial nuclear power reactors. The State Department has already complained to the Russian government.
According to the WSJ main “Politics and Policy” piece, one of President Clinton’s chief goals for his upcoming nine-day China trip, the first by a U.S. president since the Tiananmen Square massacre, is to get Americans back home to see via the television coverage that a changing modern China can be their ally and best customer. That coverage, observes the Journal, will be beamed by the very Chinese-launched U.S. satellites at the center of the latest Clinton scandal.
The WP reports that a legal tussle between a Washington, D.C. bookstore and Kenneth Starr over a subpoena of records of Monica Lewinsky’s purchases there has been avoided: Lewinsky has agreed to provide the information to Starr. This is not, notes the Post, the first time Lewinsky has cooperated with the independent counsel. She previously allowed her apartment to be searched and provided handwriting samples.
According to the Journal’s “Work Week” column, a survey indicates that more than half of all U.S. doctors feel insecure about their financial future. On average, the docs surveyed were worth more than half a million dollars.