Court won't hear appeal in NFL video game suit

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is staying out of a dispute between game maker Electronic Arts Inc. and former National Football League players who accuse the company of using their likenesses in the popular Madden NFL video game series without approval.

The justices on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that said the company's use of the player's likenesses was not protected as "incidental use" under the First Amendment.

The former players sued Electronic Arts in 2010 over the company's use of "historic teams" and players in Madden NFL games from 2001 to 2009. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2012 that the player lawsuit could proceed.

Electronic Arts previously settled a similar case brought by college football and basketball players for $40 million.

Justices refuse appeal from condemned killer

HOUSTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review an appeal from an East Texas man on death row for killing two men days apart during a crime trek across the state more than 14 years ago.

The high court made no comment Monday in its decision on the appeal from 32-year-old Clinton Lee Young.

The ruling upholds a federal appeals court's rejection last summer of arguments that Young had deficient legal help at his 2002 trial in Midland and that prosecutors improperly withheld evidence.

Young, from Ore City in Upshur County, was convicted and condemned for the November 2001 fatal shootings of Doyle Douglas in Longview and then Samuel Petrey a day or two later in a Midland oilfield after carjacking him in Eastland, about 53 miles east of Abilene.

Court rules on water fight between Montana, Wyoming

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a nine-year legal fight between Wyoming and Montana over water rights on the Tongue River.

The court ruled Monday that Wyoming is liable for shorting Montana a total of 1,356 acre feet of water in 2004 and 2006.

An acre foot is about 325,000 gallons, and Wyoming attorneys say 313,000 acre feet of Tongue River water flows across at the state line in an average year.

The justices ruled for Wyoming in claims against it for 13 other years dating back to 1981.

The court ordered the case to a special master to determine damages.

Montana first sued in 2007, arguing that Wyoming broke a 1950s-era water compact by allowing irrigators and reservoir owners to divert more water from the Tongue River than they should have.

States' challenge to Colorado pot law dismissed

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has rejected an effort by Nebraska and Oklahoma to have Colorado's pot legalization declared unconstitutional.

The justices are not commenting Monday in dismissing the lawsuit the states filed directly at the Supreme Court against their neighbor.

They argued that Colorado's law allowing recreational marijuana use by adults runs afoul of federal anti-drug laws. The states also said that legalized pot in Colorado is spilling across the borders into Nebraska and Oklahoma, complicating their anti-drug efforts and draining state resources.

The Obama administration had sided with Colorado, despite the administration's opposition to making marijuana use legal.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have heard the states' lawsuit.

Court turns down dispute over license plate

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't take up a dispute over whether an image on Oklahoma's license plates showing an Apache warrior shooting an arrow contains a religious message.

The justices on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that threw out a pastor's lawsuit claiming the plates endorse a polytheistic religion.

The image comes from a famous bronze sculpture that depicts an Indian shooting an arrow skyward in hopes that the "spirit world" or "rain god" will answer prayers for rain.

Keith Cressman argued that the "Sacred Rain Arrow" image conveyed a religious message that was an affront to his Christian beliefs.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver last year upheld an Oklahoma federal judge who had dismissed the lawsuit.

Appeal over ban on guns at post offices rejected

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't hear a dispute over a U.S. Postal Service regulation that bans guns from post office property and adjacent parking lots.

The justices on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that said the Second Amendment right to bear arms does not extend to government buildings or the parking areas that serve them.

The case involved Colorado resident Tab Bonidy, who has a permit to carry a concealed handgun. He sought a court order striking down the regulation after learning he would be prosecuted for carrying his gun while picking up mail at his local post office or leaving it in his car.

The Obama administration argued that the Second Amendment does not restrict laws forbidding guns in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.

Court won't reinstate conviction of policeman in wife's death

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't consider reinstating the conviction of a former Ohio police official charged in connection with his wife's 1995 death.

The justices on Monday declined to disturb a federal appeals court ruling that said authorities improperly withheld evidence that could have helped Ohio Police Lt. Thomas "Jim" Barton discredit charges linking him to a botched burglary. The appeals court ordered a new trial.

Prosecutors alleged Barton paid to stage a burglary to scare his wife into moving from their farm into Springboro, where he wanted to become police chief. Authorities said she was killed when the burglary went awry.

A jury convicted Barton in 2005 of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated burglary.

Messages left for the Warren County prosecutor and Barton's attorney weren't immediately returned.

Justices order new look at state's stun gun law

By Mark Sherman
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court came together Monday on the unlikely issue of guns, ordering Massachusetts' top court to look again at the state's ban on stun guns.

The justices, with no apparent dissent, issued an unsigned opinion in favor of Jaime Caetano, who was convicted of violating the state's anti-stun gun law. Caetano said she kept a stun gun in her purse for self-defense against an abusive former boyfriend.

Massachusetts is among a handful of states that prohibit possession of stun guns. The state Supreme Judicial Court upheld the ban and said the Second Amendment's right to bear arms does not extend to stun guns.

But the nation's high court said "the explanation the Massachusetts court offered for upholding the law contradicts this court's precedent." The justices were referring to the court's 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that struck down Washington, D.C.,'s handgun ban and said the Constitution guarantees the right to a gun, at least for self-defense at home.

Monday's unsigned opinion does not go so far as to strike down the law or say stun guns do fall within the Second Amendment.

Heller was a 5-4 decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, with four liberal justices in dissent.

The court has refused repeated pleas to spell out the extent of gun rights in the United States, even prompting Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas to vent their frustration in December when their colleagues refused to hear an appeal over local assault weapon bans.

Scalia died in February, and there is no way to know at this point whether his death affected the outcome, or at least the court's approach, in the Massachusetts case.

Adam Winkler, a University of California at Los Angeles law professor and an expert on the legal dispute over guns, said the opinion was the first time the court's liberals had cited the Heller case approvingly.

With gun rights advocates voicing concern that Scalia's replacement could provide a fifth vote to overturn that 2008 decision, Winkler said that "liberal justices may have wanted to signal that they are not eager to overturn Heller."

In any event, the court's actions until now have shown that the Heller case "has not proven to be a major impediment to effective gun control law."

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Thomas, wrote separately to criticize the state court ruling in blunt terms. Alito called Monday's ruling "grudging" and noted that the state court would now have another chance to rule against Caetano.

"Caetano's mere possession of the stun gun that may have saved her life made her a criminal," Alito wrote.

Published: Wed, Mar 23, 2016