Guns, Taxes, School Prayer

Other rulings by the court touched on these areas:

Gun possession by felons. The court upheld a broad interpretation of a federal ban on firearm possession by convicted felons.

It said that because a felon was barred by the state of Massachusetts from possessing a handgun, the broader federal ban on felons possessing any type of firearm applied to him.

"As to the possession of weapons ... the federal government has an interest in a single, national, protective policy, broader than required by state law," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Illegally obtained evidence. The court said ill-gotten evidence can be used at hearings on whether to revoke a convicted criminal's parole. Not to allow this would "hinder the functioning of state parole systems and alter the traditionally flexible, administrative nature of parole revocation hearings," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.

Tax-exempt religious groups. Religious organizations can remain exempt under the federal tax law, the justices affirmed today. A Salvation Army worker from Rhode Island had challenged the tax-exempt status, saying it violated the constitutionally required separation of church and state. The court, without any comment, let stand a lower ruling that denied the Salvation Army worker's argument.

Limits to school prayer. The court turned away an impassioned appeal by Gov. Fob James (R) of Alabama - slowing his crusade for student-led prayers in his state's public schools.

Last year, a federal judge struck down a law that Governor James supported. It allowed "nonsectarian, nonproselytizing, student-initiated voluntary prayers" at all school-related events.

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