High Court Refuses Abortion Clinic Case

With the addition of the Supreme Court's newest member, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, top row at right, the high court sits for a new group photograph, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009, at the Supreme Court in Washington. Front row, from left are: Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Back row, from left are: Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. AP

The Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to a Massachusetts law that creates a protest-free zone around the entrances and driveways of abortion clinics.

The justices offered no comment Monday in turning down an appeal from anti-abortion protesters who object to the state-imposed protest-free zone of 35 feet outside clinic entrances. Abortion opponents complained that the law violates their free speech rights and forces them into the street, where they've nearly been hit by cars while trying to dissuade pregnant women from entering the clinics.

State Attorney General Martha Coakley, recently defeated in her U.S. Senate bid, has defended the law as enhancing public safety while still giving protesters the right to express themselves.

Meanwhile, the court will not let a high school student sue because school officials refused to let her play an instrumental version of "Ave Maria" at her graduation.

The high court refused to hear an appeal from Kathryn Nurre. She wanted to play "Ave Maria" Hail Mary in Latin with the band's wind ensemble at the Henry M. Jackson High School graduation in 2006.

The Everett, Washington, school refused to let them perform the song, saying a similar religious-themed song had already caused complaints.

Nurre sued, but the federal courts threw out the lawsuit. Judges said it was reasonable for a school official to prohibit the performance of an obviously religious piece.

Also on Monday, the Court:

- turned down a second request to immediately close shipping locks to prevent invasive Asian carp from infesting the Great Lakes. The court refused a renewed request by Michigan to issue a preliminary injunction that would order the locks closed. The justices turned down the original request in January.

- rejected a new appeal from the Chinese Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay who want the U.S. government to give them a 30-day notice of where they will be sent when they are released. The Chinese Muslims, or Uighurs, and detainees from other countries want to be able to challenge their transfer if they could be sent to countries where they have a reasonable fear of torture, or even continued confinement. SCOTUS Blog botes that the ruling marks a victory for the federal government, enhancing its authority to decide when and where to send detainees that are cleared for release from confinement without interference by federal judges and without challenge by detainees' lawyers.

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