updated 6/28/2006 11:00:45 AM ET 2006-06-28T15:00:45

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Pennsylvania officials did not violate the free-speech rights of troublesome inmates by keeping secular newspapers and magazines away from them.

Justices, by a 6-3 vote, said the state could use newspapers as incentives to get inmates in a high-security unit to behave themselves.

But Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that Pennsylvania’s win could be short-lived, depending on whether there is another constitutional challenge to the high-security unit’s rules.

The decision reverses a ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but validates a dissent by the high court’s newest member, Justice Samuel Alito, who sided with Pennsylvania when he served on the appellate court. Alito did not participate in the argument before the Supreme Court.

Breyer said that “prison officials, relying on their professional judgment, reached an experience-based conclusion that the policies help to further legitimate prison objectives.”

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