The president's executive order drew criticism from progressive groups that fear its potential effects in education, including a section ordering the attorney general to issue interpretive guidance down the road.

Judge William H. Orrick refers to briefs filed by California school districts and its state superintendent in support of counties that challenged the president's executive order.

The justices said nominees for a post requiring Senate confirmation may not serve in an acting capacity. That could apply to some Education Department appointees.

In a case being watched by school choice advocates, the justices hear arguments about a state's refusal to provide a playground-improvement grant to a church.

Missouri's governor last week changed the state's position on whether money from a grant program could go to a religious institution, an issue with relevance for school choice.

In a case with implications for school choice, a Missouri church was denied a playground-improvement grant. Now the governor is reversing state policy.

Concurring in an order that ends an injunction in favor of Gavin Grimm, Judge Andre M. Davis said Grimm is looking to vindicate his claim to human dignity.

The Senate voted 54 to 45 to confirm Neil M. Gorsuch, who is expected to join the bench for a major case on free exercise of religion.

As Democrats cite Gorsuch's handling of a special education case in floor debate, the Republicans invoke the "nuclear option" to end a filibuster.

Ruling in the case of an Indiana community college instructor, the 7th Circuit federal appeals court holds that sex discrimination encompasses sexual orientation.

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