High Court Will Rule on Warrantless Searches

The Supreme Court said yesterday it would decide whether police can stop and search someone based on an anonymous tip that a person matching the individual's description is carrying a gun.

The justices said they would take up an appeal from Florida officials of a ruling that said police need more than the innocent details of a person's shirt and location on the street to justify a warrantless search.

Sen. Smith Back in GOP

New Hampshire Sen. Robert C. Smith returned to the Republican Party yesterday, ending a 16-week sojourn as an independent, and made it clear that he wants to claim his seniority rights to succeed the late Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Although he accused the GOP of forsaking its conservative moorings when he left it, Smith said he was returning because he felt he could most effectively make a "conservative impact on public policy" as a member of the party. He acknowledged that some Republicans were "justifiably angry" but noted that he continued to vote with the party nearly all the time and that no disciplinary action was taken against him.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), another conservative who is next in line behind Smith in committee seniority, has also signaled interest in the chairmanship. Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) appeared with Smith but did not state a preference.

Helms Delays Hearing

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) postponed his Foreign Relations Committee's hearing on former senator Carol Moseley-Braun's ambassadorial nomination, saying the Clinton administration had not provided promised documents.

"Without these documents, the committee cannot objectively evaluate the charges of ethical misconduct by Ms. Moseley-Braun," Helms said in a statement. The hearing had been tentatively scheduled for today.

It was the latest round of maneuvering between Helms and the administration about the Illinois Democrat, who was the nation's first black female senator. She served one term, was defeated for reelection in 1998 and has been nominated for the U.S. ambassadorship to New Zealand.

Trade Bill Wins Support

Backers of a bill to expand trade with Africa and the Caribbean won critical support from Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) to shorten debate and bring the legislation to a final vote. Daschle said he will support a move by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to move forward on the measure--even if it means that some amendments can't be offered.

That could clear the way to final approval of the measure, although a handful of senators from textile states, led by Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), indicated that they would still wage a spirited effort to block a final vote. A vote on Lott's motion to limit debate will come today.