Justices block new Texas voting maps

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Friday blocked the use of Texas state legislative and congressional district maps that were drawn by federal judges to boost minorities' voting power.

The court's brief order applies to electoral maps drawn by judges in San Antonio for the Texas Legislature and Congress. The justices will hear arguments in the case Jan. 9.

Texas says the judges overstepped their authority and should have taken into account the maps that were drawn by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature.

The legislative and congressional primaries had been set to take place in March but now almost certainly will be delayed. Texas is adding four U.S. House seats based on population gains in the 2010 census.

The maps issued by the judges appeared to give Democrats a greater chance of winning seats in the state House and Senate than did the plans approved by those bodies and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry. - AP

Perry flubs facts on Supreme Court

DES MOINES - Republican presidential contender Rick Perry said Friday, at a meeting with the editorial board at the Des Moines Register, that there are eight Supreme Court justices, rather than nine, and he flubbed the name of Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Perry struggled for six seconds to come up with Sotomayor's name, then initially called her "Montemayor." An editorial board member helped him out with the correct name.

The Texas governor went on to criticize "eight unelected and frankly unaccountable judges." Nine justices, sit on the Supreme Court. They are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Similar gaffes have plagued Perry. On Thursday in South Carolina, he corrected himself after saying the U.S. is at war in Iran instead of Iraq. - AP

Death penalty in home-terror case

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A jury condemned a Connecticut man to death Friday for killing a woman and her two daughters during a night of terror in 2007 in their suburban home, a gruesome crime that evoked comparisons to Truman Capote's

In Cold Blood

and halted momentum to abolish the death penalty in the state.

The jury took five days to deliberate defense attorneys' request to spare the life of Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, in light of abuse he suffered as a boy. Komisarjevsky, who will join his accomplice Steven Hayes on Connecticut's death row, stood rigidly and had no visible reaction.

The two paroled burglars tormented a family of four in the affluent New Haven suburb of Cheshire before killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48 and leaving her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, to die in a fire. The only survivor, Dr. William Petit, was beaten and tied up but managed to escape. - AP

Elsewhere:

The Obama administration proposed a new rule that would end a practice in which some endangered species were classified differently in neighboring states. The new policy would clarify that a plant or animal could be listed as threatened or endangered if threats occur in a "significant portion of its range," even if the threat crosses state lines.