The Supreme Court refused on Monday to block the release of documents generated by lawsuits against priests in Connecticut for alleged sexual abuse.
The justices turned down a request by the Roman Catholic diocese in Bridgeport, Conn.
Several newspapers are seeking the release of more than 12,000 pages from 23 lawsuits against six priests.
The records have been under seal since the diocese settled the cases in 2001. Courts in Connecticut have ruled that the papers should be made public.
The decision ends a legal battle that dragged on for years and could shed light on how recently retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was Bridgeport bishop.
It's unclear when the documents will be released.
Waterbury Superior Court clerk Philip Groth said he needs to consult a judge to determine whether a hearing is necessary before the records are released. He said Monday morning it was unlikely the documents would be released Monday.
The Bridgeport diocese, which had argued unsuccessfully that the documents were subject to religious privileges under the First Amendment, said it was disappointed in the decision.