Supreme Court Notebook

 High court rejects new Guantanamo appeal where detainee sought relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has declined another appeal from a Guantanamo Bay prisoner who argues that federal appellate judges in Washington are ignoring the high court’s command that the detainees be given a meaningful opportunity to challenge their confinement.

Many foreign terror suspects have been held without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba for 12 years.
The justices on Monday rejected an appeal from Abdul al Qader Hussain of Yemen, who was captured in Pakistan and denies that he ever was affiliated with al-Qaida or the Taliban.
The question is the level of proof the government must show to justify the detention. Hussain and others have argued that the judges are applying a lower standard than they should.
Their argument was given credence by an appellate judge last year.

Court won’t hear new Arizona appeal on illegal immigration harboring ban 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from the state of Arizona over a ruling that blocked enforcement of part of Arizona’s 2010 immigration law.
The justices had no comment Monday on their order declining to review the ruling that barred police from arresting people for harboring immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found last year that the harboring ban was vague and trumped by federal law, which already prohibits the harboring of people who aren’t in the country legally.
The harboring ban was in effect from late July 2010 until a federal judge in Phoenix blocked its enforcement in Sept. 2012 as part of a challenge by civil rights groups.

Court rejects taking a fresh look at Exxon Mo­b­il appeal of $105M verdict 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has declined to disturb a $105 million verdict against Exxon Mobil for contaminating New York City’s groundwater.
The justices had no comment Monday on their order rejecting Exxon Mobil Corp.’s appeal of the 2009 verdict the city won for the costs of removing a gasoline additive known as MTBE from drinking wells in Queens.
The city argued that the company ignored warnings from its own scientists and engineers not to use the additive in areas that use groundwater for drinking. Exxon Mobil argued that the city’s alleged injuries were too speculative and that MTBE was the safest additive to comply with a federal mandate.
The 2nd U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the jury verdict last year.

High court will hear case of traffic stop where the officer was mistaken  

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide whether police have probable cause to make a traffic stop if it turns out the officer was mistaken in thinking the driver violated the law.
The justices on Monday said they will hear an appeal from a North Carolina man who claims his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when police pulled him over for having a burned-out brake light. The police officer ultimately found cocaine in the car and the driver and his passenger were convicted of drug trafficking.
A state appeals court ruled the stop was impermissible because state law only required a car to have one functioning brake light. But a divided North Carolina Supreme Court reversed, finding the stop was permitted if the officer's mistake about the law was reasonable enough to conduct a routine traffic stop.
The issue has split various state and federal appeals courts. To make a traffic stop, the Fourth Amendment typically requires police to have a reasonable suspicion that a traffic law has been violated. But some courts have held that as long as a police officer has a reasonable basis to believe a traffic violation was committed, a stop is constitutionally permissible even if it is later discovered there was no actual breach of the law.
Other courts have held that no matter how reasonable or understandable the mistake was, it can't justify a traffic stop. These courts have ruled that any evidence obtained from a stop based on a mistake of law is inadmissible in court.
The Supreme Court will hear argument in the case of Heien v. North Carolina, 13-604, in its new term beginning in October.