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The Supreme Court agreed to hear eight new cases last week. Kelo v. City of New London, No. 04-108, challenges a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling that upheld the taking of nonblighted homes for commercial development in connection with a new Pfizer Inc. research facility. The Fifth Amendment restricts the power of eminent domain, barring the taking of private property unless it is for “public use” and is justly compensated. Traditionally used for redeveloping blighted areas, the power has expanded, in the view of critics, to the practice of taking nonblighted private property and transferring it to developers for private use. The justices will also hear a case involving a dispute between Los Angeles lawyer Johnnie Cochran Jr. and a former client, Ulysses Tory. After a disagreement led to Cochran’s withdrawal as Tory’s lawyer, Tory began picketing Cochran’s office with protest signs. Cochran successfully sued Tory for libel. But instead of assessing damages against Tory, a court in 2002 issued an injunction barring him and his wife from making or displaying statements about Cochran. The California Court of Appeal upheld the injunction, triggering the Supreme Court petition. Tory and Craft v. Cochran, No. 03-1488. The justices will also hear an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) case dealing with whether the law’s provisions apply to foreign-flag cruise ships that dock in U.S. ports. A group of disabled passengers sued Norwegian Cruise Line for providing inadequate access to ship facilities and charging extra for wheelchair-accessible rooms. Norwegian insists that the ADA is silent on its application to foreign ships. Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line, No. 03-1388. The justices will also decide if political parties can open their primaries to all voters. In Oklahoma’s primaries, political parties may allow only their own members and voters registered as independents to cast ballots. The Libertarian Party filed suit, claiming that the restrictions infringed on its First Amendment free-association rights. The party wants to open its primaries to all Oklahoma voters. Oklahoma argues that this would undermine its election process. Clingman v. Beaver, No. 04-37. The justices have also agreed to hear a death row appeal from a Pennsylvania man, Ronald Rompilla, 55, who was convicted of robbing, stabbing and setting on fire a tavern owner in 1988. He claims jurors should have been told that they could sentence him to prison without parole. Rompilla v. Horn, No. 04-5462. -ALM, AP

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