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February 26, 2009



The US Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that governments can agree to choose which monuments to display in public parks without running afoul of the First Amendment. The unanimous decision prevents a small religious group, Utah's Summum, from forcing Pleasant Grove City, Utah, to place the group's granite marker in a local park that is already home to a Ten Commandments display.

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Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke (D), the nation's first Chinese-American governor, is President Obama's latest pick as Commerce secretary, according to media reports. Two previous choices fell through. California Rep. Hilda Solis was confirmed Tuesday as Labor secretary, leaving Health and Human Services as the last cabinet slot still not at least provisionally filled.

Interim Illinois Sen. Roland Burris (D) said he will not resign even though Sen. Richard Durbin, his Illinois counterpart and the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, urged him Tuesday to do so. Burris has repeatedly changed the details about interactions with impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who appointed him.

Colorado lawmakers defeated a bill Tuesday calling for the nation's first statewide ban of plastic shopping bags by large retailers. Opponents say the legislation would have forced a switch to paper bags, which they argue require more energy to manufacture than plastic bags.

A 15-candidate field to complete the term of ousted Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was narrowed to two finalists Tuesday for a May 5 runoff. Former National Basketball Association star Dave Bing , a businessman, was the top vote getter, followed by incumbent Ken Cockrel Jr., an experienced city councilman. Kilpatrick recently completed a jail term related to a text-messaging sex scandal.

The District of Columbia's bid to secure voting rights in Congress was bolstered Tuesday when the Senate agreed to take up a bill to give the capital a fully vested representative. D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty discussed the bill, which would give the district a House vote starting in 2011.

Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, and other music stars urged Congress Tuesday to require AM and FM radio stations to pay performers royalties similar to those paid to songwriters. Broadcasters argue that radio plays drive listeners to buy music and concert tickets.

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