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The u.s. supreme Court on Nov. 3 agreed to hear arguments in these cases. A story on the court’s decision to consider whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) pre-empts state-law claims against health maintenance organizations appears on Page 1 of this issue. criminal practice In a Fourth Amendment search-and-seizure case, the high court will hear arguments on whether police officers can search a car “incident to arrest” when the defendant has exited the car before contact between the officer and the defendant occurs. Thornton v. U.S., No. 03-5165. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals joined three other circuit courts in ruling that such a search is valid. Two other circuits have held that such a search can occur only if the contact between police and defendant begins before the defendant exists the car. environmental law The justices agreed to hear a case involving the Bureau of Land Management’s policy toward off-road vehicle use in certain wilderness areas. Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, No. 03-101. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance challenged the policy, arguing the bureau should be compelled to carry out mandatory duties under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Rejecting that argument, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had held that the federal courts’ authority under the Administrative Procedure Act to “compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed” does not extend to the review of whether the agency’s ongoing management of public lands under general statutory standards and its own land- use plans is adequate or not.

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