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WASHINGTON: Court rules on religious staff

The Supreme Court held for the first time Wednesday that religious employees of a church cannot sue for employment discrimination. The court's unanimous decision in a case from Michigan did not specify the distinction between a secular employee, who can take advantage of the government's protection from discrimination and retaliation, and a religious employee, who can't. It was, nevertheless, the first time the high court has acknowledged the existence of a "ministerial exception" to anti-discrimination laws -- a doctrine developed in lower court rulings. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had sued the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School of Redford, Mich., on behalf of employee Cheryl Perich, who was fired after she complained of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


ILLINOIS: Obama on campaign trail

President Barack Obama flexed his campaign muscle a day after Republicans came closer to selecting a challenger, jetting back to his hometown Wednesday for a surprise visit to his 2012 election headquarters and rallying supporters at three fundraisers. Obama rallied 500 supporters at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Before heading to Chicago, the president gathered business leaders at the White House to talk about how to create jobs at home. Although officials said the event was not political, it implicitly contrasted the president's jobs push with Romney's record at Bain Capital.


MISSISSIPPI: Barbour's pardons blocked

A judge temporarily blocked the release of 21 inmates who'd been given pardons or medical release by Republican Haley Barbour in one of his final acts as governor. Judge Tomie Green issued an injunction late Wednesday at the request of Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, who said he believes Barbour might have violated the state constitution by pardoning some who failed to give sufficient public notice that they were seeking to have their records cleared.

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