Supreme Court to review religious freedom case
Justices reject Kevorkian appeal
October 15, 1996
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court said Tuesday it would review a federal law protecting religion from government interference. In a separate case involving freedom of speech, justices sided with inmates denied sex magazines. The court also rejected an appeal by Jack Kevorkian involving his home-built "suicide machine."
At issue in the religious freedom case is a 1993 law requiring federal, state and local government to accommodate a religious practice unless the government can prove it has a compelling interest in regulating it. The regulation chosen must be the least restrictive means possible.
The case arose after Boerne, Texas, denied an application from a Roman Catholic archbishop for a permit to expand a church because it was within the city's historic district. Citing a large increase in parishioners, the church said it would be unable to accomplish its mission and survive as a parish church unless it expanded.
The archbishop sued, claiming the denial of the construction permit violated the 1993 law. The city replied that the law was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court will listen to the city's challenge early next year and issue a decision before June.
The sex magazine case involves two inmates who sued after officials at Virginia's Keen Mountain Correctional Center told them in 1992 they no longer could receive certain issues of Gallery, a monthly magazine with erotic articles and pictures of nude women.
Prison officials said they based their decision on some of the written content in the magazine, not the nude photographs.
A federal judge upheld the state policy, but an appeals court said denying inmates access to the magazine violated the publisher's First Amendment rights. The state took the case to the Supreme Court, but justices Tuesday let stand the appeals court ruling.
Kevorkian, who has publicly acknowledged attending more than 40 deaths since 1990, had asked the Supreme Court to reverse a 1991 injunction barring him from using his "suicide machine" on terminally ill patients.
But the justices, without comment or dissent, let stand a Michigan Supreme Court ruling in April that upheld the injunction. In a related case last year, the Supreme Court turned down Kevorkian's appeal of a Michigan Supreme Court decision that said there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide.
Correspondent Anthony Collings and Reuters contributed to this report.
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