U.S. Supreme Court Notebook

Supreme Court upholds disclosure requirement for issue ads


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has upheld a requirement that forces groups to say who is paying for issue advertising directed at candidates in an approaching election.

The justices on Monday affirmed a lower court decision in a case involving ads that mention candidates but don't call for the election or defeat of one.

The case involved a Colorado think tank called the Independence Institute and ads that it wanted to run in 2014 that mentioned Colorado Democratic senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet. Udall lost his 2014 re-election bid, while Bennet won a second term in 2016. The Independence Institute said it wanted to run a similar spot in 2016.

The group objected to revealing the names of its largest contributors. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., supported the group's Supreme Court bid.

The Supreme Court has generally upheld disclosure requirements even as it has struck down limits on raising and spending money in political campaigns.

Justice Anthony Kennedy cited the importance of disclosure in his majority opinion in the Citizens United case in 2010 that freed corporations and labor unions to spend freely in elections, as long as they did so independently of candidates.

Kennedy wrote that "the public has an interest in knowing who is speaking about a candidate shortly before an election."

The case is Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission, 16-743.

 

U.S. Supreme Court refuses appeals from 3 on Texas death row
 

HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review appeals of three Texas death row inmates, including one who pleaded guilty to a triple slaying in South Texas.

The high court's rulings, each without comment Monday, move the three one step closer to execution.

The prisoners include 31-year-old LeJames Norman, condemned for the 2005 shooting deaths of three people during a botched robbery of a home in Edna, about 100 miles southwest of Houston.

The high court also has refused an appeal from 58-year-old Michael Wayne Norris, convicted of the 1986 fatal shootings of a Houston mother and her 2-year-old son. And the court rejected an appeal from 67-year-old Bill Douglas Gates, condemned for beating, raping and strangling a Houston woman in 1999.

None of the three has an execution date.

 

Supreme Court to hear appeal from Georgia death row inmate
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will hear an appeal from a Georgia death row inmate who says lower courts failed to look at lengthy, detailed rulings in his case when turning away a challenge to his sentence.

The justices agreed Monday to take up the appeal from Marion Wilson, who was convicted for his role in killing a state prison guard in 1996.

A state court judge had issued a comprehensive opinion after rejecting Wilson's challenge to his sentence. The Georgia Supreme Court issued only a short, summary opinion upholding the sentence.

Wilson then sought to overturn his sentence in federal court. The federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled 6-5 that it only had to look at the latest summary denial and did not have to review opinions from lower courts.

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