The Supreme Court, despite strong objections from the court's two liberals, yesterday declined to hear the appeal of a high school guidance counselor fired from her job after she revealed she was bisexual.
Justice William J. Brennan Jr., joined by Justice Thurgood Marshall, said the court should decide the case because it "starkly presents" a homosexual-rights issue that has "swirled nationwide for many years."
They argued that this case was significant because it involved a woman who was fired not only because of her sexual preference but also for revealing her bisexuality to colleagues. The justices fell two votes short of the four votes needed to grant review.
The counselor, Marjorie Rowland, sued the Mad River (Ohio) School Board after her dismissal. A federal jury in 1981 ordered the board to pay her more than $50,000 in damages. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, saying the dismissal did not violate Rowland's constitutional rights to equal protection or freedom of speech.
The appeals court, Brennan said, was ruling that public employes could be fired simply for expressing a sexual preference. "Nothing in our precedents requires that result," he said; "indeed, we have never addressed the topic."
Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., still recuperating from prostate surgery, did not take part in the decision in Rowland v. Mad River Local School District. Powell is not expected to take the bench this week for oral arguments, according to the court press officer, Toni House.
In other action yesterday, the court:
* Turned down appeals by former Teamsters union president Roy Williams and three associates convicted in 1982 for involvement in a conspiracy to bribe former senator Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.).
Williams, who has been sentenced to 55 years in prison, argued that the trial judge should not have allowed prosecutors to use FBI wiretap evidence in the case. Another convicted conspirator, Teamster pension fund consultant Allen Dorfman, was gunned down in a restaurant parking lot in 1983. The cases are Williams v. U.S.; O'Malley and Massa v. U.S.; and Lombardo v. U.S.
* Declined to upset a ruling that American Telephone & Telegraph Co. did not improperly try to block competition in the long-distance telephone service field. A federal appeals court here ruled last June that Southern Pacific Communications Co. did not show that AT&T violated antitrust laws. The case is Southern Pacific Communications v. AT&T.
* Declined to disturb lower court rulings throwing out lawsuits by victims of a 1978 attack by 13 Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists in Israel in which 34 people were killed and 87 others were wounded.
Victims and relatives of those killed, mostly Israelis, filed suits here against the Libyan government, PLO, National Association of Arab Americans and Palestine Congress of North America.
A federal judge dismissed Hanoch Tel-Oren v. Libyan Arab Republic in 1981, saying U.S. courts had no jurisdiction in the case. An appeals court upheld the dismissal.