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Politics

State of the Union speech hits on numerous social justice themes

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama hit on numerous themes that resonated with Catholic advocates for social justice issues.

Among the items included in Obama's policy agenda in the president's annual speech before a joint session of Congress were what Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, called the "bold ideas" of proposals to enable students to have two years of community college education without paying tuition; to expand paid leave to working parents and to make home ownership more accessible.

Supreme Court upholds religious rights of prisoners

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A Supreme Court that has extended the reach of religion into public life in recent years ruled Tuesday that spirituality can overcome even prison security concerns.

The court came down decisively on the side of a Muslim prisoner whose beard had been deemed potentially dangerous by Arkansas prison officials. Growing a beard, the justices said, was a Muslim man's religious right.

Supreme Court weighs a church's right to advertise services

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The Supreme Court on Monday considered a tiny church's curbside sign in a case that could raise the bar on government regulation of speech and make it easier for houses of worship to advertise their services.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the advocacy group that represents Pastor Clyde Reed and his Good News Community Church, bills the case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, as a religious rights case. But their attorney mostly argued it on free speech grounds.

Court rules Michigan firm exempt from providing contraceptive coverage

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A federal court has ruled that a Michigan-based medical supply company does not have to provide contraception coverage in its employee health insurance plan because of faith-based objections.

The Jan. 5 ruling by Judge Robert Jonker of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids said Autocam Medical does not have to comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act. The decision is a reversal of the judge's ruling three years ago.

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