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The U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 28 and 29 issued the following decisions: The justices upheld most of the Republican-boosting Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay but threw out part, saying that some of the new boundaries failed to protect minority voting rights. League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, No. 05-204. The fractured decision was a small victory for Democratic and minority groups who accused Republicans of an unconstitutional power grab in drawing boundaries that booted four Democratic incumbents from office. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that Hispanics do not have a chance to elect a candidate of their choosing under the plan. The vote was 5-4 on that issue. Republicans picked up six Texas congressional seats two years ago, and the court’s ruling does not seriously threaten those gains. Lawmakers, however, will have to adjust boundary lines to address the court’s concerns. At issue was the shifting of 100,000 Hispanics out of a district represented by a Republican incumbent and into a new, oddly shaped district. On a different matter, the court ruled 7-2 that state legislators may draw new maps as often as they like-not just once a decade as Texas Democrats claimed. That means Democratic and Republican state lawmakers can push through new maps anytime there is a power shift at a state capital. The justice ruled, 6-3, that Vermont’s limits on contributions and spending in political campaigns are too restrictive and improperly hinder the ability of candidates to raise money and speak to voters. Randall v. Sorrell, nos. 04-1528, 04-1530 and 04-1697. In a fractured set of opinions, justices said they were not sweeping aside 30 years of election finance precedent but rather finding only that Vermont’s law-the strictest in the nation-sets limits that unconstitutionally hamstring candidates. The majority took issue with Vermont legislators for “constraining speech” by telling candidates and voters how much campaigning was enough. In one of six separate opinions, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that a majority of justices found Vermont’s limitations on contributions and spending were unconstitutional. The high court ruled that Kansas’ death penalty law is constitutional. By a 5-4 vote, the justices said the Kansas Supreme Court incorrectly interpreted the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment to strike down the state’s death penalty statute. Kansas v. Marsh, No. 04-1170. The Kansas court said that the state’s death penalty law improperly forced jurors to impose a capital sentence even if they believed that the prosecution and defense evidence were equal in weight. Writing for the majority, however, Justice Clarence Thomas disputed the claim by critics that the law created “a general presumption in favor of the death penalty in the state of Kansas.” The ruling affirms the court’s long-held position that states should determine how juries weigh factors presented by the prosecution and defense in capital cases. The justices decided by a 7-2 vote that prosecutors’ failure to submit to a jury a factor used in sentencing is not grounds for automatic reversals of convictions. Washington v. Recuenco, No. 05-83. The defendant was convicted of second-degree assault based on the jury’s finding that he assaulted his wife with a “deadly weapon,” and the judge applied a three-year sentencing enhancement based on its own findings. The Washington Supreme Court vacated the sentence, concluding that violations of Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), cannot be harmless error. But the high court reversed. “Failure to submit a sentencing factor to the jury, like failure to submit an element to the jury, is not structural error,” Thomas wrote for the majority. The justices ruled that Arizona’s law on the insanity defense is not too restrictive in limiting evidence defendants can present at trial. Clark v. Arizona, No. 05-5966. By a 6-3 vote, justices affirmed the murder conviction of Eric Clark, who thought he was being pursued by space aliens when he killed an Arizona police officer. Clark, a paranoid schizophrenic who was a teenager at the time, is serving 25 years to life in prison. Under Arizona’s law, defendants “may be found guilty except insane” if they prove they were so mentally ill that they did not know what they did was wrong. “Arizona’s rule serves to preserve the state’s chosen standard for recognizing insanity as a defense and to avoid confusion and misunderstanding on the part of jurors,” Justice David H. Souter wrote for the court. The justices ruled, 5-4, that states need not adopt any special procedures or remedies to enforce an international treaty that governs local police treatment of foreign nationals when arrested. Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, No. 04-10566. The 1963 treaty, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, requires that police inform foreign arrestees that they have the right to contact their home country’s consulate. And if the arrestee requests it, the police must inform the consulate of the detention. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said that U.S. courts have the final say and can give effect to the treaty without international oversight. Foreign nationals who prove violations of the treaty are not entitled to the suppression of evidence obtained during the arrest or any other procedural favors, Roberts wrote. The justices ruled, 6-2, that Pennsylvania officials did not violate the free speech rights of troublesome inmates by keeping secular newspapers and magazines away from them. Beard v. Banks, No. 04-1739. The justices said that the state could use newspapers as incentives to get inmates in a high-security unit to behave themselves. But Breyer wrote for the majority that Pennsylvania’s win could be short-lived, depending on whether there is another constitutional challenge to the high-security unit’s rules. The decision reverses a ruling by the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but validates a dissent by the high court’s newest member, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who sided with Pennsylvania when he served on the appellate court. Alito did not participate in the argument before the high court. By a 6-3 vote, the justices said that parents cannot collect fees for experts that they use while prevailing in lawsuits seeking to force public school districts to pay for the private education of their disabled children. Arlington Central School District Board of Education v. Murphy, No. 05-18 . In an opinion by Alito reversing the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the court said that the text of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act “does not authorize an award of any additional expert fees,” and fails to provide clear notice of such costs as required by Constitution’s spending clause. See Page 7 for a story on the 5-4 ruling in U.S. v. Gonzalez-Lopez, in which the court reversed the federal drug conviction of a man whose chosen counsel was erroneously denied admission to practice for the trial. See Page 1 for a story on the high court’s 5-3 ruling that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guant�namo Bay detainees. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, No. 05-184.

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