Washington — The Supreme Court has ruled, 8 to 1, that states cannot deny unemployment benefits to a person who quits his job because of a conflict with his religious beliefs. It said this would be a violation of the First Amendment's freedom-of-religion guarantee. The ruling overturned an Indiana Supreme Court decision approving refusal of unemployment benefits to a man who quit his job in an armaments factor because his beliefs barred him from war-connected activities.
In other action, Sara Jane Moore, serving a life sentence for attempting to assassinate President Ford, lost a bid for Supreme Court review of her conviction for a brief escape from federal prison in February 1979.
The court refused to step into a major utility industry case involving a rate-setting procedure used by states that provides billions of dollars in revenue for utility construction.
It also declined to step into a controversy over conditions at Colorado's maximum-security prison, which were found to be cruel and unusual by lower courts. Twenty-seven states had asked the court to use the case to lay down new standards for prison conditions. But in another case it did agree to consider whether the death penalty may be imposed on a person who was under 18 when he committed a capital crime.
It also agreed, in a case about nuclear weapons storage, to study whether the government must present an environmental-impact statement for a project that involves military secrets.