The Supreme Court Monday refused to give husbands the legal power to prevent their wives from having abortions.
The justices, without comment, let stand an Indiana Supreme Court decision that a husband has no right to interfere with his wife's constitutional right to abort her pregnancy.The court also told deposed Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, they must turn over subpoenaed records to a federal grand jury.
The state court's ruling in the abortion case last July was based directly on past rulings by the nation's highest court.
Erin Andrew Conn of Elkhart, Ind., went to court early last summer in an attempt to prevent his estranged wife, Jennifer, from having an abortion. She was about six weeks pregnant at the time.
A state trial judge issued a temporary order barring Mrs. Conn from having the operation performed, but a state appeals court threw out that order.
"Erin has no right to veto Jennifer's decision ... as such decision concerns only her," the appeals court ruled.
The Indiana Supreme Court, acting on Conn's subsequent appeal, then adopted the appeals court ruling as its own.
The state courts said Conn's attempt to block his wife's abortion was prohibited by prior Supreme Court rulings dating back to 1973, when a landmark decision by the justices legalized abortion.
In 1976, the court struck down a Missouri law requiring spousal consent before a woman could obtain an abortion during the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy.
After the state Supreme Court ruling, Conn sought emergency help from Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice John Paul Stevens. Both denied his request, and the injunction prohibiting Mrs. Conn's abortion was lifted last July 22.
She subsequently obtained an abortion. The Conns are in the midst of divorce proceedings. Conn's attorney, James Bopp of Terre Haute, said a decree is expected within days.
In the appeal acted on today, Conn said the 1973 and 1976 rulings did not preclude state courts from taking a husband's rights into consideration "on a case-by-case basis."
In other cases, the court:
-Denied the Marcoses' emergency request that they not be compelled to abide by a grand jury's demand for financial and other records related to an investigation of the couple, charged with looting their nation's treasury of more than $100 million.
A federal judge in New York, where the grand jury is meeting, ruled Aug. 11 that the Marcoses must honor the subpoenas and no longer have immunity as ruler and first lady of a foreign country. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judge's ruling Oct. 19.
-Let stand an appellate ruling that the federal Voting Rights Act, designed to prevent racial discrimination, applies to state judicial elections. The court, without comment, rejected an appeal by Louisiana officials who said the law is not intended to cover the judicial branch and could impair the independence of judges.
-Agreed to consider the constitutionality of a Connecticut law aimed at assuring that beer sold in the state costs no more than it does in three neighboring states.