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Friday, April 19, 2024 | Back issues
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High Court Kicks|Off October Term

WASHINGTON (CN) - At the start of its October term Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court released an 89-page order list that offers no new grants but invites the solicitor general to brief the justices on the government's position in five cases.

The bulk of the filing represents the court's decision to deny various petitions, but the justices also handled 10 cases with summary disposition.

One case that the solicitor general will address is a dispute between an elderly woman and the law firm, Fein, Such, Kahn and Shepard, which she sued along with two banks that tried to foreclose on her when she missed the last payment on a 30-year mortgage because she had been hospitalized. The 3rd Circuit ruled in January that the case could proceed.

The court also wants the government's position in an appeal to reinstate a $926 million award for property owners who claim that the now-defunct Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in Colorado released radioactive plutonium particles onto their properties for 37 years. A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit tossed the award in September.

Another case the solicitor general will address is whether to authorize construction of a coal-fired plant in Texas that got the green light during the relaxed pollution controls of the Bush administration. The 5th Circuit brought development to a halt in December.

Pollution laws are also the focus of another case the solicitor general has been asked to consider. In March, the 9th Circuit said California can require ships to use cleaner fuels within 24 miles of the coast as they move through the state's busy ports.

The justices refused to hear arguments for attorneys' fees in connection to dispute over violent video games that it sorted out in June.

They also passed on considering the constitutionality of hanging a poster of the Ten Commandments in an Ohio courtroom. The 6th Circuit ruled in February that Judge James DeWeese's poster was unconstitutional.

Another case involving religious themes also failed to attract the justices' attention. The Utah Highway Patrol Association had hoped the court would reverse a 10th Circuit decision that banned enormous crosses erected as roadside memorials for fallen officers.

A religious case from the 9th Circuit failed to interest the justices as well. In February, the San Francisco-based court had said the Faith Fellowship Foursquare Church could sue the northern California city of San Leandro that had barred it from building a new church in an industrial zone.

The high court also declined to review a 2nd Circuit decision that ordered Yahoo! and RealNetworks to recalculate how much the should pay to stream music online.

A man who claims that cellphones emit radiation levels that are harmful to consumers likewise failed to get a review of his case, which the 3rd Circuit dismissed last October.

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