Against the backdrop of a tight presidential election that probably will shape its future, the Supreme Court goes back to work this week, facing cases on whether the government can forbid foul language on television, whether drug makers can be sued by injured patients, and whether environmentalists can protect whales off California from the Navy’s sonar, reports the Los Angeles Times. The court also will decide whether high officials can be held liable for violations of rights that took place on their watch. In a Los Angeles case, the justices will decide whether the former county district attorney can be sued by a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder based on the testimony of a jailhouse informer with a record of lying.
And in a New York case, the justices will decide whether John Ashcroft can be held liable for the arrest and alleged mistreatment of Muslim immigrants after the Sept. 11 attacks, when he was attorney general. On Monday, the justices will meet behind closed doors to sift through more than 2,000 appeal petitions that have piled up over the summer. They are expected to announce Tuesday that they will hear a handful of those cases. On Oct. 6, the court will begin hearing oral arguments.