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New Term for High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court was expected to tackle a wide range of issues during a new term that began Monday.

Among the cases on the docket Monday morning were the constitutional rights of loitering street-gang members, a political fight over the 2000 census, and disputes over sexual harassment in schools.

CBS News Correspondent Stephanie Lambidakis reports that in the street gang case, the court will decide whether a Chicago loitering ordinance gives police the right to keep people from gathering in public places and arrest them if they refuse to move.

The Illinois Supreme Court struck down the law as too vague.

Some other questions the court will consider are:

  • Can the Clinton administration use statistical sampling in the 2000 census?
  • Has California illegally penalized poor people who move there by paying them lower welfare benefits than long-time residents?
  • Can schools be held liable for students who sexually harass other students? The lawyer for a Georgia girl who was harassed says schools, like companies, need to be held accountable.
  • Should Secret Service agents and White House aides be required to testify about what they saw and heard while working at the White House? Both cases are left over from President Clinton's unsuccessful battle to keep aides from testifying before special prosecutor Kenneth Starr's grand jury.
By Monday afternoon, the Supreme Court had delivered a number of decisions. Among the cases decided:
  • The Supreme Court let stand a federal judge's sanctions against Larry Klayman, whose conservative legal-rights group Judicial Watch has sued the Clinton administration on a myriad of topics.
  • A Baptist minister in Texas who had sex with two women while counseling them about their marriages lost a Supreme Court appeal. He now must pay each woman $115,000. The court turned away Shelby Baucum's argument that a federal jury violated his religious freedom by deciding he had committed malpractice and breached his fiduciary duties.
  • In a battle of board games, the court refused to revive Anti-Monopoly's lawsuit that said Hasbro Inc., owner of its big-selling competitor, Monopoly, unlawfully sought to monopolize the board game business.
  • The Supreme Court upheld a federal appeals court ruling that said a public school teacher cannot claim first amendment free-speech protection in a lawsuit stemming from controversial teaching materials.
  • The Supreme Court has turned down composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's request to throw out a lawsuit over The Phantom of the Opera. Songwriter Ray Repp is suing Lloyd Webber, claiming he stole the Phantom theme from Repp's song Till You.
  • In a blow to topless dancing in New York, the Supreme Court let stand a New York City zoning ordinance, rejecting arguments that the local law wrongly stifles erotic expression and discriminates against female dancers. The justices left intact a 1995 ordinanc used to ban topless dancing at the Cozy Cabin in the East Elmhurst section of Queens.
  • The Supreme Court let an Indiana school district continue conducting random drug testing for all students participating in extracurricular activities, even if they are not individually suspected of using drugs. The justices let stand a ruling that such testing does not violate students' privacy rights.
  • The Supreme Court agreed to use a Virginia death-row inmate's case to clarify rules requiring prosecutors to disclose evidence that may point to a defendant's innocence. The court said it will hear Tommy David Strickler's argument that authorities unlawfully withheld such evidence when he was tried and convicted of killing Leanne Whitlock.
  • Fred Astaire's widow lost a Supreme Court appeal, killing her lawsuit over what she claims was the unauthorized use of her famous husband's image in a dance-instruction videotape. The justices left intact a federal appeals court ruling that threw out Mrs. Astaire's case against New York-based Best Film & Video Corp. Her appeal argued that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should have sent the case, based on an interpretation of California law, to the state's Supreme Court.

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