The Supreme Court opened its new term Monday by agreeing to review its recent decisions barring sentencing juries from considering the character of the defendant's victim or the grief of the victim's family.
There were only eight justices on the bench as the court issued some 1,000 orders after returning from a three-month summer recess. It denied review in the vast majority of the cases.David H. Souter is expected to receive Senate confirmation Tuesday as the nation's 105th justice of the Supreme Court.
In the sentencing case, the court agreed to consider reinstating an Ohio man's death penalty for a love-triangle murder.
In other action, the court:
- Said it will try to clarify what authority police have to pursue and detain people who run away after seeing police.
The justices agreed to consider reinstating the cocaine conviction and 68-month sentence of an Oakland, Calif., youth who a state court said was chased and caught unlawfully by police.
- Agreed to decide whether U.S. businesses are lawbreakers if they discriminate against Americans they employ outside the country.
The justices, setting the case for an important ruling, said they will decide whether Congress intended a major anti-bias law to reach beyond the nation's borders.
- Agreed to use a dispute over the settlement of a strike by Continental Air Lines pilots to set new guidelines on the duties of unions to represent their members.
The court said it will consider killing a lawsuit against the Air Line Pilots Association by striking pilots who said the union denied them fair representation.
- Permitted the random drug testing of New York City's 10,000 jail guards.
The court, without comment, rejected an appeal by the guards' labor union, which said the tests violate the corrections officers' privacy rights.
- Let stand a ruling that church-run schools must pay employees the federal minimum wage and may not pay women teachers less than men.
The court, without comment, rejected an appeal by officials of a Baptist church in Virginia who said forcing the church to abide by federal labor law violates its religious freedom and other constitutional rights.