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Other Supreme Court actions

Justices agree to hear an appeal from groups trying to overturn a 2007 Arizona law on hiring illegal immigrants. They reject cases on tobacco, healthcare and patents.

June 29, 2010|Times wire reports

Other actions Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court:

Undocumented workers: The court agreed to hear an appeal from business and civil rights groups trying to overturn a 2007 Arizona law that prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. The state law was intended to lessen the economic incentive for immigrants to sneak into the U.S. by holding employers who hire them accountable. The prohibition is separate from an Arizona immigration law passed in April that requires police, after making a lawful stop, to question the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally; that law is also being challenged in court. Supporters of the employer sanctions law say it was needed because the federal government hasn't adequately enforced a similar federal law. Critics contend that the law is an unconstitutional attempt by the state to regulate immigration and that cracking down on illegal hires is the sole responsibility of the federal government. Argument will take place in the court term that begins in October.

Tobacco: The court rejected an attempt by the federal government to wrest billions of dollars in damages from the tobacco industry. The court also rejected, without comment, an appeal by the tobacco companies of a lower-court ruling that the companies had violated racketeering law by conspiring to lie for years to sell tobacco products they knew were dangerous. But the elimination of any potential for a large payout was seen as a victory for cigarette makers including Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA unit and Reynolds American Inc.'s R.J. Reynolds Tobacco unit.

Healthcare: The court rejected a business-led challenge to San Francisco's universal healthcare program, which has enrolled more than 53,000 people who lacked health insurance. The justices denied an appeal from the Golden Gate Restaurant Assn. of an appeals court ruling that upheld the program's requirement that employers help pay the bill or give their workers health coverage.

Clergy sex abuse scandal: The court refused to stop a lawsuit that accuses the Vatican of conspiring with U.S. church officials to transfer a priest from city to city despite repeated accusations that he sexually abused young people. The original lawsuit, John V. Doe vs. Holy See, was filed in 2002 by a Seattle-area man who says the priest, the Rev. Andrew Roman, repeatedly molested him in the late 1960s.

Patents: The court refused to weigh in on whether software, online-shopping techniques and medical diagnostic tests can be patented, saying only that inventors' request for protection of a method of hedging weather-related risk in energy prices cannot be granted. The high court unanimously agreed with a lower-court ruling that threw out Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw's patent, a decision many said could endanger patents in an increasingly high-tech world.

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