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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Cheney papers to be kept secret
US Vice-President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney may yet have to release the documents
The US Supreme Court has refused to order Vice President Dick Cheney to release secret papers detailing the administration's energy policy.

But after judging the application brought by environmental groups, the Supreme Court kept the case alive by sending it back to a lower court.

The papers, which detail meetings of Mr Cheney's so called energy task force, were first sought back in 2002.

A Congressional watchdog first demanded the papers after the Enron scandal.

But 10 months later, in December 2002, a US District Court judge ruled that the taskforce papers could remain closed.

Environmental concerns

The application for the Supreme Court to hear the case came from The Sierra Club, which campaigns for reductions in the use of fossil fuels, and the legal lobby group Judicial Watch.

A lower court will now have to reconsider whether the papers should be released under a federal open government law.

The environmental groups want to see the documents because they claim the Bush administration was too close to Enron, the collapsed former energy giant.

However the issues involved have recently been overshadowed by a conflict of interest dispute involving one Supreme Court judge.

Justice Antonin Scalia refused to step down from hearing the case, despite having taken a hunting vacation with Mr Cheney while the court was considering his appeal.

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