Opponents of a partial merger of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to delay consummation of the business agreement so there will be further time for appeal.

The motion was filed with Chief Justice William Rehnquist by Public Citizen, an advocacy group founded by consumer activist Ralph Nader, in behalf of Michigan Citizens for an Independent Press, a coalition of newspaper readers and advertisers who have been battling the proposed agreement in the courts.The motion said opponents would file a request within 30 days that the Supreme Court hear the case.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week rejected opponents' request for a rehearing. The court ruled the newspapers' joint operating agreement could go into effect late Monday or afterward.

Under the proposed agreement, an exemption to anti-trust laws under the Newspaper Preservation Act, the News and the Free Press would combine their business and production departments while maintaining separate news and editorial operations.

The profits from the combined newspapers would be split 50-50 for most of the 100-year life of the agreement.