The Supreme Court Monday handed a victory to the Roman Catholic Church in its battle against abortion activists who are trying to strip the church of its tax-exempt status.
The justices, on an 8-1 vote, overturned a lower court ruling that ordered church authorities to pay $100,000 a day or turn over internal documents in a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service that seeks to deny the church tax exemption because of its anti-abortion lobbying activities.The opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy held that the church had a legal right to challenge the court order, even though it was not an actual party to the suit.
In other action, the court:
- Let New York City bar discrimination against women and minorities by private clubs with more than 400 members, giving cities and states new ammunition in a growing legal assault on such practices. By a unanimous vote, the justices ruled that the New York City law is constitutional, at least as it is written.
- Agreed to study a dispute over a Birmingham, Ala., plan for promoting more black firefighters.
- Agreed to decide whether Indian tribes may control, through tribal zoning laws, the use of land owned by non-Indians within a reservation's boundaries.
The justices, in a case of significance to any state in which a reservation is located, said they will resolve a dispute involving the Yakima Indian Reservation in Washington state.
- Ruled unanimously that prison inmates may sue in federal courts the doctors who treated them behind bars.
- Placed new limits on the power of states to impose residency requirements that restrict the number of lawyers licensed to practice within their borders.
The justices, voting 7-2, barred Virginia officials from reinstating a residency requirement successfully challenged by a lawyer living in neighboring Maryland.
- Refused to order Tennessee to help pay for continuing efforts to racially desegregate Nashville area public schools.
- Refused to free some states from having to pay for a hyponsis expert when a penniless criminal defendant challenges a prosecution witness's hypnotically enhanced testimony.
- Let stand a ruling that unraveled years of litigation in a still-pending lawsuit to racially desegregate Alabama's colleges and universities.