U.S. Supreme Court Notebook

Supreme Court to ­consider American Express fee dispute


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is taking up an appeal by 11 states that argue American Express violated antitrust laws by barring merchants from asking customers to use other credit cards that charge lower fees.

The justices said Monday they would review a ruling by the federal appeals court in New York that sided with American Express.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by states and the Obama administration in 2010 against American Express, Mastercard and Visa. The lawsuit said that letting merchants steer customers to cards with lower fees for merchants or to other preferred cards would benefit consumers and increase incentives for networks to reduce card fees.

Visa and MasterCard entered into consent judgments in 2011 and stopped their anti-steering rules for merchants while American Express proceeded to trial.

A trial judge ruled against American Express in 2015, but the appeals court reversed that ruling last year.

The Trump administration said it agreed with the states, but still urged the Supreme Court to reject the case. The administration said the justices should let the issue percolate in the lower courts.

The 11 states that joined the appeal are Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont.

Other states that were part of the original lawsuit are Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Texas.

The court will hear argument in Ohio v. American Express, 16-1454, during the winter.

 

East Texas man on death row loses U.S. Supreme Court appeal
 

HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused an appeal from a man sent to death row for torturing and drowning an East Texas woman in his bathtub and then stuffing her body into a barrel with cement mix and lime before dumping it in a ravine.
The high court, without comment Monday, declined to review arguments that 50-year-old Troy Clark had deficient legal help at his Smith County trial in 2000.

Clark was condemned for the May 1998 slaying of a former roommate, 20-year-old Christina Muse of Tyler.

Evidence showed Muse was hit with a stun gun, beaten, bound and kept in a closet before she was drowned at Clark’s Tyler home. Records indicate Clark and a friend were using and selling methamphetamine and were worried she would snitch on them.

 

Justices reject New Mexico city’s Ten ­Commandments appeal
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has turned away an appeal from a New Mexico city that is fighting a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lawn outside City Hall.

The justices on Monday let stand lower court rulings against Bloomfield, New Mexico.

The monument was first erected in 2011 and challenged a year later.

Lower courts concluded it violated the Constitution’s ban on the government endorsing a religion.

Justice Neil Gorsuch did not take part in the court’s action because he was on the federal appeals court in Denver when it considered the matter.

 

Supreme Court won’t take case of alleged USS Cole mastermind
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision that the alleged mastermind of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors should face a trial by a military commission.

The court on Monday declined to take up the case of Saudi national Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri. Al-Nashiri had sought to challenge the authority of a military commission in Guantanamo Bay hearing his case. But an appeals court ruled last year that al-Nashiri’s challenge would have to wait until after his trial.

Al-Nashiri argued that military commissions only have authority over offenses that take place during an armed conflict. He said the U.S. was not officially at war with al-Qaida at the time of the attack.

Al-Nashiri’s trial date is not yet scheduled.

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