News In Brief

The Supreme Court struck down a Washington State law that gave grandparents considerable power to seek court-ordered visitation against parents' wishes. Ruling 6 to 3, the justices said that the right of parents to raise their children free from government interference generally trumped state laws aimed at giving extended families broad rights. All 50 states have grandparent-visitation laws, but few are as expansive as Washington's.

The court also handed Webster Hubbell, a friend of President Clinton, a victory that wipes out his guilty plea to a misdemeanor tax charge. The 8-to-1 ruling said prosecutors couldn't use financial documents against Hubbell that he was forced to produce because of the constitutional protection against self-incrimination. In another case, the justices set aside the lengthy prison sentences given to five Branch Davidians who survived the 1993 siege at the sect's Waco, Texas, compound. The court ruled that a federal judge misused an antigun law to increase their punishment. The unanimous decision makes it harder for courts to find that lawbreakers warrant extra time behind bars because they used or carried machine guns during crimes.

About three months after the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations were largely determined, the last five states were set to hold primaries. Small turnouts were expected today in Alabama, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota.

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader chose American Indian activist Winona LaDuke as his running mate. A Harvard graduate, farmer, and author, she also was Nader's running mate in 1996, when the two received less than 1 percent of the vote as independents. Al Gore and George W. Bush have yet to announce running mates.

California Reform Party members rejected a bid to keep presidential candidate Pat Buchanan off the November ballot in the country's most populous state. Party officials had proposed to split from the national organization - precluding Buchanan from the ballot - unless he abided by rules designed to keep his outspoken social views from influencing the Reform platform. The party's convention opens Aug. 10.

Prosecutors agreed to drop murder charges against pro football player Ray Lewis for a stabbing incident in Atlanta after the Super Bowl Jan. 31. The Baltimore Ravens linebacker pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor - obstruction of justice - and will receive one year probation in exchange for testifying against two co-defendants.

Storms dumped as much as 15 inches of rain on parts of northern and central Texas, causing floods that damaged homes and bridges. At least four people died. Meteorologists said the downpour was the region's heaviest since 1991, but not enough to end a drought that's lingered since spring 1998.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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