U.S. Supreme Court Notebook

Supreme Court agrees to hear identity theft case

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case that could make it more difficult for states to prosecute identity theft and other crimes.

The high court agreed Monday to take a case out of Kansas that involves the state's prosecution of people who were using others' Social Security numbers on employment and other forms.

Kansas' highest court ruled in 2017 that the state couldn't prosecute those crimes by relying on information that is on a required federal work authorization form, the I-9. Kansas argued it can prosecute because the same information also appears on state work forms.

Ten states had urged the Supreme Court to take the case.

Supreme Court won't intervene in synagogue ­dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court is declining to intervene in a fight over the control of a historic Rhode Island synagogue and its religious bells worth millions.

The justices' decision Monday not to take up the case means that a lower court's ruling that a New York synagogue owns Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, stays in place.

Congregation Jeshuat Israel has worshipped at Touro Synagogue since the late 1800s. It wanted control of the synagogue and the ability to sell one of its two sets of Colonial-era Torah bells, called rimonim. It wanted to sell the set to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for $7.4 million.

An appeals court found that Manhattan's Congregation Shearith Israel, which objected to the sale, owns the Touro property including the rimonim.

Justices spurn Georgia inmate, despite juror's racial slurs

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is rejecting a new appeal from a Georgia death row inmate, despite evidence that a juror in his capital case used racial slurs.

The high court had previously blocked the execution of Georgia inmate Keith Leroy Tharpe. But the justices on Monday refused to take up his case after a lower court ruled against him.

The 59-year-old Tharpe is trying to get his death sentence thrown out because of comments the juror made to defense investigators several years after Tharpe's trial. The juror signed an affidavit, though he later testified that he voted for Tharpe's death sentence because of the evidence against him. The juror has since died.

Lower courts have ruled Tharpe can't use the juror's statement.

Tharpe was convicted of killing his sister in law.

Justices reject B&B owner who denied room to gay couple

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is rejecting an appeal from a Hawaii bed and breakfast that wouldn't rent a room to a lesbian couple.

The justices on Monday are leaving in place Hawaiian state court rulings that found the Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Honolulu violated Hawaii's anti-discrimination law by turning the couple away.

Owner Phyllis Young had argued she should be allowed to turn away gay couples because of her religious beliefs.

Supreme Court to consider Louisiana's non-unanimous juries

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court will consider overturning a criminal conviction by a 10-2 jury vote in Louisiana.

The justice acted Monday, four months after Louisiana voters amended the state constitution to prohibit non-unanimous verdicts in criminal cases.

Oregon is the only state that still allows them.

The high court will consider the case of Evangelisto Ramos, who was convicted in 2016 of second-degree murder in the killing of a woman in New Orleans. Ramos is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.

The change in the state constitution took effect in January, but is of no help to Ramos without court action.

The last time the Supreme Court took up the issue was in 1972, when it ruled that nothing in the Constitution bars states from allowing some convictions by non-unanimous verdicts. But even in Oregon and Louisiana, first-degree murder, which could bring the death penalty, has required a unanimous verdict.

The court has held that the Sixth Amendment requires unanimous verdicts in federal criminal cases.

The 1972 case turned on the vote of Justice Lewis Powell. The court said states were not compelled to follow suit and require unanimous juries in all criminal cases.

At the same time, the Supreme Court has determined that most rights guaranteed by the first 10 amendments to the Constitution apply to states as well as the federal government

Also Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether states can eliminate the so-called insanity defense for criminal defendants without violating the Constitution.

The appeal comes from a Kansas man who has been sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife, their two daughters and the wife's grandmother.

The cases will be argued in the fall.

Published: Tue, Mar 19, 2019

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