Supreme Court Notebook

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:Court voids police check of hotel registries

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has struck down a Los Angeles ordinance that allowed police to inspect hotel guest records on demand.

The justices voted 5-4 Monday to reject the city's argument that the measure was needed to help fight prostitution, drug trafficking and illegal gambling at budget hotels and motels.

Los Angeles said that people engaging in those activities are less likely to use hotels if they know the facilities must collect guest information and turn it over at a moment's notice.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor said for the court that the law is unconstitutional because it penalizes the hotel owners if they don't comply.

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:Court won't hear appeal fromMadoff victims

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from the trustee trying to recover nearly $4 billion for victims of Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court decision that blocked trustee Irving Picard from recovering and distributing nearly $2 billion and raised questions about an additional $2 billion in potential recoveries and distributions.

A federal appeals court ruled last year that some Madoff customers who received more in payouts from Madoff than their original investment were protected under bankruptcy laws.

Picard said the ruling guts his authority to recover money from those who profited from illegal schemes and redistribute money to those who did not.

High court rules against Spider-Man toy inventor

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says the inventor of a popular Spider-Man web-shooting toy can't keep reeling in royalties after his patent ran out.

The justices ruled 6-3 Monday against Stephen Kimble in his long-running dispute with Marvel Entertainment over a Web Blaster toy that shoots foam string from a glove.

Kimble sold his patent on the toy to Marvel in 2001 and has earned more than $6 million in royalties under terms of a settlement agreement. But Marvel stopped making payments in 2010 once the patent expired.

Kimble had urged the high court to overrule a half-century-old case that says a licensing agreement cannot pay royalties once a patent ends.

But the justices declined. The court said it should be up to Congress to change patent laws.

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:High court won't hear appeal of tax overpayment

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from Ford Motor Co. seeking to recover about $450 million in interest on taxes the company overpaid the Internal Revenue Service.

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that upheld the IRS' refusal to pay the interest.

The case began when Ford made an $875 million payment in the 1990s after the IRS said the company had underpaid taxes by nearly $2 billion during the previous decade. Ford initially paid the money as a cash bond, but later asked the IRS to treat it as an advance tax payment.

The IRS ultimately determined that Ford's deposit was an overpayment, but said interest started accruing only when it was converted to an advance tax payment. Ford disputed that decision.

High court sides with inmate over excessive force

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is making it easier for inmates who are accused of crimes - but not yet convicted - to bring cases of excessive force against jail officials.

The justices on Monday ruled 5-4 in favor of a Wisconsin man who sued jail officers for civil rights violations after they used a Taser gun and other rough tactics while transferring him to another jail cell.

The incident involved Michael Kingsley, who was jailed pending trial on drug charges. He claimed he only had to show the officers were unreasonable in using force.

A lower court ruled Kingsley also had to prove the use of force was intentional, or at least reckless. But the Supreme Court agreed with Kingsley that he only needed to show the conduct was "objectively unreasonable."

High court rejects general's appeal over promotion

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from a retired Air Force general who claims he was illegally denied a promotion after the Defense Department said he failed to adequately protect against a terrorist strike.

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that said Brig. Gen. Terryl Schwalier was not entitled to a second star.

Schwalier was in charge of the unit hit by a June 1996 bomb at Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 airmen. His promotion to major general had already been confirmed by the Senate, but President Bill Clinton removed him from the promotion list after an investigation found him at fault.

A federal appeals court ruled that presidential action was required to complete the promotion. Schwalier retired in 1997.

High court to hear dispute over gov't contracts to vets

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court will decide whether the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is complying with a law designed to increase the number of federal contracts awarded to small businesses owned by disabled veterans.

The justices on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from Kingdomware Technologies Inc., a disabled veteran-owned contractor that says it should have been considered to provide services for VA medical centers.

Federal law requires the agency to use a bidding process if two or more disabled veteran-owned companies can offer service at a fair and reasonable price.

But a federal appeals court ruled that the agency did not have to follow that practice if it otherwise met the goal of awarding between 7 and 12 percent of all contracts to companies owned by disabled veterans.

Published: Tue, Jun 23, 2015

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