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Court Won't Block Release Of Conn. Sex Abuse Papers

The Supreme Court refused Monday to block the release of documents from lawsuits against Connecticut priests sued for sexual abuse.

As it opened a new term, the court turned down a bid by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., to keep thousands of pages of documents from 23 lawsuits against six priests from being made public.

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The documents had been under seal since a settlement agreement was reached in 2001 between the diocese and the plaintiffs. But when a group of newspapers sought to have the documents unsealed, the Connecticut courts ruled the papers should be made public.

It is not clear when the documents will be released. They are expected to shed light on how the diocese's former bishop, Edward Egan, handled allegations of sexual abuse by priests. Egan retired earlier this year as cardinal of the New York Archdiocese.

In other cases:

— The court rejected an appeal to review a Florida law requiring public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day, unless they have a note from their parents that would excuse them.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida had filed suit on behalf of a high school student who was taken out of his math class because he wouldn't recite the pledge.

Attorneys for the ACLU argued that the ruling undermined a 1943 Supreme Court decision that students could not be forced to salute the flag and say the pledge.

But lawyers for the state said the law does not violate the First Amendment because parents have the right to excuse their children from participation.

— The justices rejected the appeal of Joseph Nacchio, former chief executive of Qwest Communications International Inc., for a new trial or acquittal.

Nacchio had argued that he did not receive a fair trial on insider trading charges.

From NPR and wire reports

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