Police liable in 'ride-alongs'

In another key ruling of the term, the US Supreme Court said yesterday that police can be sued for letting TV camera crews and other journalists accompany them into people's homes to observe arrests or searches.

Police who authorize "media ride-alongs" violate privacy rights protected by the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, the court ruled. The decision silences disagreement among lower courts over whether police may take the news media with them when they burst into someone's house or other private place. Still pending is the issue of whether the journalists can also be punished financially.

In other decisions yesterday, the high court:

*Allowed Georgia to require that a political candidate win more than half the vote in a primary election to avoid runoffs with the closest competitor. It agreed the majority-vote mandate does not discriminate against black voters and candidates.

*Said Phoenix does not have to accept noncommercial advertisements, such as religious and political messages, for display on the outside of city buses. A religious group and the Arizona Civil Liberties Union, which had each sought to rent ad space on city buses, had claimed the city violated their free-speech rights.

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