News In Brief

State governments cannot be sued against their will in state courts by people seeking to enforce some federal right, the Supreme Court said in a decision with major implications for states' rights. On a 5-to-4 vote, the justices quashed a state-court lawsuit by dozens of state probation officers seeking to enforce a federal labor law and collect overtime pay from Maine.

Momentum was growing in the Senate for a radical Energy Department restructuring that would insulate nuclear-weapons programs as part of a largely autonomous agency. Bill Richardson, the head of the department, told the House Commerce Committee the proposal would weaken future Energy secretaries and damage nuclear security in the long term. But Democrats said privately its prospects for approval, at least in the Senate, were good.

An effort to set quotas on US steel imports fell short in the Senate. Supporters, who say cheap imports are taking jobs away from Americans, could not muster the 60 votes needed to end Senate debate and bring the bill to a vote. The Clinton administration lobbied against the quotas, saying they would violate trade agreements and prompt other countries to retaliate against US exports.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said he intends to seek the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. The conservative chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he wants to position himself as a viable GOP alternative to George W. Bush in case the Texas governor and GOP front-runner stumbles during the primaries.

A law barring the state of Massachusetts from doing business with firms that trade with Myanmar (Burma) is unconstitutional, a US appeals court held. The First Circuit Court of Appeals decision - which could affect state and local boycotts nationwide - condemned the statute for interfering "with the foreign-affairs power of the federal government."

A US appeals court reversed the bank-fraud convictions of former Gov. Fife Symington (R) of Arizona, saying the decision to remove a juror from his 1997 trial was an error. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel found a reasonable possibility that Mary Ann Cotey's view of the case played a role in her dismissal. Shortly after his conviction for defrauding lenders in real estate deals, Symington stepped down from the governor's post, vowing to appeal the decision. Prosecutors say they will vigorously pursue the case against him, despite the new ruling.

California Gov. Gray Davis (D) offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to those who set fires late last week at three Jewish synagogues. Blazes broke out within minutes of each other Friday at B'nai Israel in Sacramento and two suburban temples, causing $1 million in damages.

A San Francisco teenager who raised $18,000 by running a road race presented a check to one of the most seriously injured victims of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. Rashad Williams had expected to raise only a few hundred dollars for Lance Kirklin, whose family faces mounting medical bills. But donations poured in after a newspaper columnist wrote about Williams running the race last month on behalf of Kirklin. They had not previously met.

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