The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states may ban nuclear-plant construction until a permanent disposal method for dangerous radioactive waste is found.
The ruling could be a major blow to the nuclear-power industry and could bring it to a virtual standstill while the search continues for better disposal techniques. California and seven other states effectively have barred nuclear-reactor construction until new methods are developed. The atomic-power industry had urged the high court to find that the state moratoriums clash with federal authority by permitting states to establish their own nuclear-plant-construction policies. Delivering the court's opinion, Justice Byron White held that while the federal government has complete control over safety aspects of nuclear power, states have traditional authority over the need for additional generating capacity and the type of generating facilities to be licensed.
In other action, the court:
* Overturned by a 5-4 vote a federal court injunction that severely restricted use of choke holds by the Los Angeles police force. Use of choke holds has been blamed for 16 deaths in the city in the past eight years.
* Unanimously permitted, for the first time, protesters to picket on the sidewalks surrounding the Supreme Court Building.