RI Supreme Court declines to hear pension case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Rhode Island's Supreme Court is declining to hear an appeal from state officials who sought to reverse a lower-court ruling that public pensions amount to a contract and cannot be arbitrarily changed.
      The court announced Tuesday that it won't intervene in the lawsuit filed by public-sector unions against the state. The lawsuit now returns to a lower court.
      Gov. Lincoln Chafee and others had appealed a Superior Court ruling that pension agreements are contracts and cannot be changed “on a whim.” The decision, issued in September, allowed unions to proceed with a lawsuit seeking to block earlier pension changes.
      Last week lawmakers approved sweeping changes to the state's public pension system. Supporters of the overhaul say the ruling only requires the state to have good reason for modifying pensions.
      (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)