Right of search in autos widened

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday on issues covering age and racial discrimination, generic drugs, police authority, and grapefruit juice.

The court dramatically expanded the power of police to search items they find in cars, ruling 6 to 3 that any container in a car--from a paper bag to a suitcase--is liable to be inspected without a warrant.

Another ruling rejected an appeal by white city fathers of a Southern town charging that federal officials ''racially gerrymandered'' the city limits to boost black voting strength.

The court refused to disturb a major age discrimination ruling that declares United Airlines cannot refuse to hire pilots older than 35.

Also rejected were challenges to a law requiring all containers of 100 percent Florida grapefruit juice to display the state's name or the ''sunshine tree'' insignia.

On a 9-to-0 vote, the court set aside a ruling that would have barred generic drugs from being sold in the same size, shape, and color as leading brand-name products.

In another decision, the court reversed a lower court ruling declaring unconstitutional provisions of a 1978 law on public utilities. The law, known as the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, was part of a legislative package designed to combat the nationwide energy crisis.

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