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The Supreme Court was widely tipped in US media as prepared to
hand down much-anticipated rulings on whether race can factor into school admissions, on gay rights, and on commercial free speech.

If precedent is any guide, Monday and Thursday should be the
last two days on which the Court will hand down decisions. Three
significant cases remain.

In one, the justices must decide how or if race can factor into
university admissions, in a case that could have far-reaching
effects on programs meant to redress racial imbalances in the
United States.

Three white students brought the case, charging they unfairly
lost spots at the University of Michigan to minority students,
under the school's system meant to admit a target "critical mass"
of minority students into its law program.

The plaintiffs in the case assailed the school's policy of giving "under-represented minorities" a 20-point bonus on a 150-point scale use to rate would-be students in its undergraduate program.

In another, the Court will rule on the validity of Texas' sodomy law, in a landmark case that began when state police broke into a gay man's apartment in 1998 in response to an unfounded weapons
report, but found two men having sex instead of finding illegal arms.

Texas is one of four US states where it is a crime for members of the same sex to engage in sodomy, which is defined by the state as oral or anal sex.

A further nine states have similar legislation, but apply it to
heterosexuals as well as the gay and lesbian community.

In order to invalidate the Texas law on privacy grounds, the
Supreme Court will have to overrule the precedent it established in
a similar 1986 case when it decided that the right to privacy did
not extend to "morally reprehensible" activities which lacked any
connection to "family, marriage or procreation."
Although the law is rarely enforced, opponents argue that it
represents an institutional attempt to label homosexuals as second class citizens, by outlawing sexual behaviour permitted for
straight couples.

In a third case, the world's leading footwear maker Nike has asked the Court not to allow consumers to sue the company over statements it made defending its labor practices in Asian factories.

In a case that is being closely watched by business leaders, the
shoemaker argued that it had the right to exercise free speech when making statements about its Third World factories.

Nike claims that its speech is protected because its comments
were part of a public debate about sweatshops rather than comments on its products.

In the latter case, the company could be sued for misrepresenting its products, said the GEM, a subsidiary of AFP.

California's Supreme Court allowed San Francisco consumer Mark
Kasky to sue the company over the statements about its labor

He alleged Nike made false and misleading statements in order to
promote the company's image and influence consumers' purchasing decisions about its products and should therefore be liable for factual inaccuracies.

Source : Sapa-AFP