As the nation gears up for an election year, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the power of states to impose limits on campaign contributions to political candidates. The justices ruled, 6 to 3, that a 1994 Missouri law restricting individual contributions to $1,075 for candidates in statewide races does not violate the constitutional right to free speech. About two-thirds of states impose campaign contribution limits. Among other rulings, the court said federal approval of changes in state and local elections cannot be withheld just because redistricting fails to improve a discriminatory situation. The 5-4 ruling stemmed from a Louisiana case in which district lines continued making it difficult to elect a black to the Bossier Parish school board.
Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia moved to drop his affiliation with the Democratic Party and become an independent, his office reported. As a result, Republicans will hold a 222-211 majority in the House, with two independents - the other being Rep. Bernard Sanders of Vermont. The move could jeopardize Democratic hopes of regaining control of the House in this year's election.
Although the Iowa presidential caucuses were expected to draw little more than 10 percent of the state's 1.8 million registered voters, the results may set the parameters for the entire campaign, analysts said. Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush needed to win their respective Democratic and Republican races by sizable margins for them to be considered substantial victories, the analysts said.
President Clinton was to propose $27 million to help close the earnings gap between men and women and beef up enforcement of equal-pay laws, the White House indicated. The plan, part of his 2001 budget proposal, includes $10 million for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, although a similar, $14 million initiative failed in Congress last year.
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether someone outside the family of Wen Ho Lee, charged with mishandling nuclear secrets, may have gained access to sensitive information via the Internet, The Washington Post reported. Around 1994, the password of the then-employee of the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory was used about 70 times at UCLA to log in to the laboratory's unclassified network, the Post said. Lee's attorneys explained it was his daughter playing a computer game, but prosecutors were unconvinced that someone else was not involved.
Many children with disabilities receive substandard schooling because states are not complying with federal rules on special education, the Washington- based National Council on Disability reported in a review of performance from 1994 to 1998. But officials at the Department of Education, which oversees compliance with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 1975, said it has increased monitoring under the Clinton administration.
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