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Supreme Court declines to hear appeal by Al-Arian

Sami Al-Arian may be tried.

Sami Al-Arian may be tried.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from Sami Al-Arian, the former University of South Florida professor once accused of being a top Palestinian terrorist.

The high court's decision Monday means Al-Arian is a step closer to facing trial in Virginia for refusing to testify to a grand jury.

Al-Arian struck a plea bargain in 2005, admitting he conspired to assist the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He argued that the terms of the deal barred the government from demanding his testimony in other terror cases.

But a federal appeals court disagreed, and now the Supreme Court is refusing to intervene. A judge in Virginia had wanted the appeal to be resolved before trying Al-Arian for contempt of court. He could face life in prison if convicted of contempt of court.

On the first day of the court's new term, the justices picked up where they left off last term, signaling support for efforts to block lawsuits against tobacco companies over deceptive marketing of "light" cigarettes.

Last term, the justices handed down several opinions that limited state regulation of business in favor of federal power. In the first argument of the court's new term, several justices posed skeptical questions on whether federal law prevents smokers from using consumer protection laws to go after tobacco companies for their marketing of "light" and "low tar" cigarettes.

The companies are facing dozens of such lawsuits across the country.

The Supreme Court refused to hear many cases, including these in which:

• A jury foreman read passages of the Bible to holdout jurors who subsequently voted to impose the death penalty in a Texas murder case.

• Antiabortion activists were trying to undo a multimillion-dollar verdict for their use of "wanted" posters to identify abortion clinic doctors.

• A convicted murderer sought a requirement that jury verdicts be unanimous in all criminal cases.

• An antiabortion group won its legal fight to force Arizona to issue "choose life" license plates.

Supreme Court declines to hear appeal by Al-Arian 10/06/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 3:00pm]

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