High Court Delays School Voucher Curb

Students who attend religiously affiliated schools can participate, at least temporarily, in a tuition voucher program for private schools in Cleveland, the Supreme Court said yesterday. The court, granting an emergency request by Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, shelved a federal judge's order that temporarily barred new students from participating.

Although a victory for pro-voucher advocates, the action does little to clarify the muddy state of the law over providing tuition help for families whose children attend religiously affiliated schools. The Supreme Court order, reached on a 5 to 4 vote along ideological lines, postponed the effect of the federal judge's order until the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in the case.

Legal fights over tuition vouchers have been waged in Arizona, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont, but to date, the Supreme Court has steered clear of providing a definitive answer.


* JASPER, Tex.--An all-white jury was selected for the capital murder trial of Shawn Berry, the last of three alleged white supremacists accused of dragging a black man to death in a racist attack. Berry, 24, faces a possible death sentence if convicted of killing James Byrd, 49.

* The U.S. Civil Rights Commission will hold a hearing early next month in Sioux Falls, S.D., to investigate the recent deaths of Native Americans in the state. Among the deaths that caught the commission's attention were those of eight men--six of them Indians--whose bodies were found in a creek in Rapid City over the past 18 months.

* REDDING, Calif.--One of two brothers accused of killing a gay couple--Winfield Mowder and Gary Matson--in July told the Sacramento Bee he shot the men because he believed their homosexuality violated God's law. "I'm not guilty of murder. I'm guilty of obeying the laws of the Creator," Benjamin Matthew Williams, 31, said in a jail interview, insisting that his brother, James Tyler Williams, 29, had nothing to do with the slayings. Both have pleaded not guilty.

* The Clinton administration is expanding Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge hear Hanford, Wash., to include 57,000 acres that were part of the top-secret project to build the atomic bomb. The move, sought by environmentalists for more than a decade, ensures the land near the Columbia River will not be turned into farmland but can protect prime salmon habitat.

* CLEVELAND--A fifth white student pleaded not guilty in what authorities say was a plot to mimic the Columbine High School massacre at their predominantly black high school.

* HONOLULU--Byran Uyesugi, a 40-year-old Xerox Corp. repairman, pleaded not guilty to murder in the shooting deaths of seven co-workers Tuesday.

* YUCATAN, Minn.--Chris Leif, 16, who mistakenly thought he had killed his father, John, 50, while squirrel hunting, shot himself in the head out of grief. Six days after his father lost consciousness for several hours after Chris's gun fired accidentally, striking John Leif in the head, both remained hospitalized, the son in critical condition, the father stable.

* UNITED NATIONS--The United States regained its seat on a key U.N. budget committee today after a three-year hiatus, a move that could lead to the U.S. clearing up its $1.8 billion in back dues to the world body.

* BOSTON--At least nine children were injured, two of them seriously, on Boston's oldest subway escalator as they bunched together and one fell after a school outing, officials said.

* ATLANTA--Giant pandas Lun-Lun and Yang-Yang, both 2, were delivered to Atlanta's zoo and will go on display Nov. 20. With their arrival, the U.S. panda population is six: The National Zoo in Washington has one, and the San Diego Zoo has three, including a cub born Aug. 21.