By Mark Sherman Associated Press WASHINGTON – A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law. The justices’ 5-4 decision, splitting conservatives […]

By Mark Sherman Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court unanimously struck down the 35-foot protest-free zone outside abortion clinics in Massachusetts Thursday, declaring it an unconstitutional restraint on the free-speech rights of protesters. Authorities have less intrusive ways to deal with potential confrontations or other problems that can arise outside clinics, Chief Justice […]

By Nicholas Riccardi and Brady McCombs Associated Press DENVER – A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that states must allow gay couples to marry, finding the Constitution protects same-sex relationships and putting a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court. The three-judge panel in Denver ruled 2-1 […]

By Mark Sherman Associated Press WASHINGTON – In a strong defense of digital age privacy, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police may not generally search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants. Cellphones are powerful devices unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest, Chief Justice John […]

By David Espo AP Special Correspondent WASHINGTON – Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, a former aide elected to Congress in his own right less than eight years ago, won election as House majority leader Thursday as fellow Republicans shuffled their leadership in the wake of Rep. Eric Cantor’s primary defeat in Virginia. Louisiana Rep. Steve […]

By Lara Jakes and Julie Pace Associated Press WASHINGTON – Edging back into a military role in Iraq, President Barack Obama on Thursday said he was dispatching up to 300 military advisers to help quell the rising insurgency in the crumbling nation. He called on Iraqi leaders to govern with a more “inclusive agenda” to […]

By Julie Pace AP White House Correspondent WASHINGTON – After years of pressure from gay rights groups, President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the White House said Monday. While Obama lacks the authority to extend […]

By Julie Pace AP White House Correspondent WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Thursday that Iraq will need more help from the United States as it seeks to push back a violent Islamic insurgency that has captured two key cities and threatens to press toward Baghdad. Obama did not specify what type of assistance the […]

Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad on Tuesday. (AP Photo)

By Sameer N. Yacoub Associated Press BAGHDAD – Al-Qaida-inspired militants seized effective control Wednesday of Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, expanding their offensive closer to the Iraqi capital as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts following clashes with the insurgents. Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control a day […]