The Supreme Court stepped into a long-running controversy Monday over claims stemming from Fidel Castro's nationalization of American banks in Cuba 20 years ago.
The federal government says the lower court ruling now before the justices gives foreign governments that decide to expropriate American property a ''blueprint'' on how to shield themselves from suits in the United States.
The court also agreed to decide on the following issues: when challengers to government regulations may be awarded attorneys fees and other legal costs if they do not win their suit, and whether a Phoenix, Ariz., restaurant owner can be barred from filing a lawsuit against a fired employee who later picketed his business.
The court let stand a $35,000 libel ruling against a Myrtle Beach, S.C., newspaper for erroneously reporting that a man had pleaded guilty to pirating stereo tapes. The justices refused to get involved in a long-running trade dispute over television sets that American producers said were being ''dumped'' in the United States for a lower price than the country where they were manufactured. And the court let stand the federal extortion conviction of former Louisiana Agricultural Commissioner Gilbert Dozier, who said he was merely collecting political contributions.