The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to settle a longstanding controversy over drunken driving laws: whether a motorist's refusal to take a blood alcohol test can be used as evidence against him in court.
The justices will hear an appeal by South Dakota prosecutors, challenging a ruling that introduction of such evidence violates a driver's Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
The court also agreed to decide whether unsolicited advertisements for condoms and other contraceptives can be sent through the U.S. mails. The justices said they will review a decision striking down a ban on such mailings to the general public.
The ban imposed by Congress was challenged by the Youngs Drug Products Corp., distributors of Trojan brand condoms.
Mailings of contraceptive advertisements to physicians and others in the medical field were allowed by the law, as were similar promotions by nonprofit groups.
In other actions yesterday, the court:
* Refused to tackle a political controversy focusing on whether major corporations use "coercive methods" to solicit funds from "vulnerable" employes for political action committees. The justices rejected an appeal by the International Association of Machinists and left intact rulings that found the millions of dollars collected each year by corporate political action committees are gathered legally.
* Rejected an attempt by Romanian Orthodox Bishop Valerian Trifa, an alleged World War II Nazi supporter, to regain his U.S. citizenship. The court, without comment, let stand a ruling that Trifa had voluntarily surrendered his rights as a naturalized American.
* Refused to let a community prohibit the leaving of advertisements at private homes without the resident's permission.
* Left intact a ruling that a judge can force reporters to sign news-coverage agreements before they attend hearings in open court.
* Agreed to consider whether an improper comment by a prosecutor was serious enough to overturn the convictions of five men in the kidnaping and rape of three teen-age girls. A prosecutor in closing arguments had alluded to the fact that the defendants did not testify at their own trial.
* Left intact a ruling permitting people who live near airports to sue cities for money damages because of noise from commercial jetliner traffic.