The Supreme Court said yesterday it will review a Kentucky state court ruling making it illegal for a candidate to promise voters a cut in his own salary if elected.
Because the voters would gain financially through a tax savings from the salary cut, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that the promise was tantamount to an offer to buy votes and voided the election of Jefferson County Commissioner Carl W. Brown.
Brown said the action violated his right of free speech.
The Kentucky court had held that Brown violated the state corrupt practices act of an August 1979 press conference when he and another candidate promised to reduce the commissioner's salary from $20,000 to $17,000.
The act outlaws promises of "things of value" in exchange for votes. After being told that his statement -- the sort routinely made by politicians around the country -- might be illegal, Brown retracted it.
Earl Hartlage, the incumbent Brown defeated in the 1979 election, filed suit anyway and won the court of appeals ruling which the Supreme Court agreed to review yesterday. An order removing Brown from office was stayed by Justice Potter Stewart pending resolution of the case.
The justice agreed to review the powers of shippers to block politically motivated boycotts by longshoremen. The case stemmed from the International Longshoremen's Association's refusal to load ships bound for the Soviet Union after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Occidental Petroleum sought and won a temporary court order blocking the work stoppage in Florida ports when the dockworkers refused to load a shipment of chemicals to the Soviet Union. But the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the injunction, holding that it was prohibited by federal labor law.
The appeals court held that the controversy between the shippers and the dockworkers was a labor dispute subject to arbitration, not court injunctions. The justices will rule next term on the case of Jackville Bulk Terminals et al vs. the ILA.
The court refused to review the weapons possession conviction of Black Panther party founder Huey Newton. Newton was convicted in 1978 of being a felon in possession of two handguns. Newton is on probation in connection with the charge.
The court also let stand a Minnesota ruling allowing a mother and father to lock up and deprogram their 21-year-old daughter, who joined a religious organization called The Way Ministry.
Susan Louise Peterson's parents, like hundreds of others throughout the country, had her held for 16 days in 1976 and subjected to deprogramming. She escaped, however, and sued her parents, charging false imprisonment.
The Minnesota Supreme Court said the parents acted legally when imposing "limitations upon her mobility."