The Supreme Court will referee a dispute over congressional access to national security information, the latest conflict over checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches.
The justices announced Monday they will consider reviving legislation limiting presidential authority to withhold classified information. A decision is expected by July.Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who had breast cancer surgery 10 days ago at Georgetown University Hospital, was back on the bench as she and her fellow justices returned from a two-week recess to hear arguments and issue orders.
The national security case involving classified information, a sticking point for years between Congress and various presidents, stems from a 1983 directive by President Reagan.
The directive requires federal officials, before they are allowed access to classified information, to sign an agreement they will not disclose the information.
Members of Congress said the president is seeking to abridge free-speech rights of federal employees and "punish whistleblowers for making disclosures that embarrass their superiors."
In other action, the court:
-Heard arguments in a case involving a woman denied partnership in a leading Washington accounting firm. The case centers on how difficult it should be for employers to disprove charges of sexual stereotyping.
-Killed a lawsuit against the government stemming from the World War II mass detention of Japanese-Americans in U.S. prison camps. The action bars a suit for property losses by veterans of the internment camps, but legislation was enacted this year that permits each detainee to receive $20,000.
-Agreed in a case from Virginia to decide whether states must continue to provide lawyers for indigent death row inmates after they have lost their initial round of appeals.
-Ruled, 7-2, that police in Pennsylvania did not violate the rights of a man suspected of drunken driving when they failed to read him Miranda warnings after he was stopped for questioning.
-Let stand an Illinois law that bans the possession of child pornography.
-Allowed public school officials in California to ban leaflets and school yearbook advertisements that promoted a student-run, lunch-hour Bible study group.