WASHINGTON - A controversial Florida law that restricts state colleges and universities from traveling to Cuba and other "terrorist states" could be headed before the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
The high court on Monday invited the Obama administration to file a brief outlining the United States' stance on the 2006 law, which bars public schools and universities in Florida from using state money - or tapping into their budgets - for travel to countries considered by the federal government to be "sponsors of terrorism.'' The countries include Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the faculty at the University of South Florida, the University of Florida and Florida International University in March had asked the high court to review the law.
The state law was declared unconstitutional in 2008 by U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz in Miami, but it was upheld in September by a federal appeals court in Atlanta.
There was no word yet Monday on whether the U.S. solicitor general, who would represent the Obama administration, would file in the case, but the ACLU said it was pleased the high court was "taking this seriously.
The ACLU and the universities had asked the high court to step in, saying the law makes Florida "the only state in the country with its own foreign policy which runs over, above and contrary to the foreign policy of the United States."
Police may enter if evidence in jeopardy
The police do not need a warrant to enter a home if they smell burning marijuana, knock loudly, announce themselves and hear what they think is the sound of evidence being destroyed, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in an 8-1 decision.
The issue as framed by the majority was a narrow one. It assumed there was good reason to think evidence was being destroyed, and asked only whether the conduct of the police had impermissibly caused the destruction.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, said police officers do not violate the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches by kicking down a door after the occupants of an apartment react to hearing that officers are there by seeming to destroy evidence.
In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the majority had handed the police an important new tool.
"The court today arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement in drug cases," Ginsburg wrote. "In lieu of presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate, police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant."
Information from the New York Times and Miami Herald was used in this report.