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July 4, 2014

The Supreme Court on Thursday evening unveiled its latest ruling around birth control and religious freedom — and if you disliked the Hobby Lobby decision earlier this week, you're going to hate this one.

The latest ruling allows Wheaton College to skirt ObamaCare's contraceptive provisions as long as the evangelical school informs the government of its religious objections to providing its staff and students with any type of birth control. Previously, the government required a non-profit with religious objections to sign a form handing over responsibility of providing contraceptive coverage to its insurer or health care plan administrator — now, presumably, the government would handle the hand off.

Saying the decision "undermines confidence in this institution," Justice Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent, accusing the court of backtracking key elements of its Hobby Lobby decision. "Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word," Sotomayor wrote. "Not so today."

She said the ruling set up unworkable regulations that risked "depriving hundreds of Wheaton's employees and students of their legal entitlement to contraceptive coverage" and allowed "hundreds or thousands of other objectors" a similar way out.

She was joined in her dissent by the court's two other female justices. In fact, the decision broke down completely across gender lines — the court's male justices comprised the majority opinion — suggesting that the court's battle over religious freedom and reproductive rights is only going to get more contentious. Nico Lauricella

4:24 p.m. ET
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he is "not ready" to endorse presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Ryan, the ranking Republican in government, told CNN's Jake Tapper that there's "some work to be done" before he'd feel comfortable supporting Trump. Back in March, Ryan said he would in fact back Trump if he won the party's nomination. Trump had promised to be a "unifier" for the Republican party, but as Slate's Jamelle Bouie points out, Ryan is the latest of several major party figures who have declined to support him:

Of course, depending on your point of view, it's entirely possible Trump is proving to be quite the effective unifier. After Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suspended their campaigns following Tuesday's GOP primary in Indiana, Trump is the only candidate left vying for the party's nomination. Kimberly Alters

4:04 p.m. ET
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

President Obama has commuted the sentences of 58 federal prisoners, the White House announced Thursday. Eighteen of the 58 were serving life sentences, mostly for nonviolent drug-related charges. The majority of the prisoners are set to be freed on Sept. 2, though some will be released early next year.

The latest round of commutations marks Obama's second batch this year. He cut short the sentences of 61 inmates in March, and with this latest round of commutations brings his total to 306 — more than double the total commutations of the last six presidents combined. Becca Stanek

3:15 p.m. ET

Things Cinco de Mayo is not:

  • Mexican Independence Day
  • A beloved Mexican holiday
  • An opportunity to tell the world you "love Hispanics!"

Donald Trump might have missed the memo on that last one:

As if that wasn't cringe-worthy enough, the plot thickens even further:

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo respectfully, folks! Jeva Lange

3:02 p.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images,Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Never before in the past 10 presidential elections has a candidate even come close to arousing the levels of dislike that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have evoked in the American people — and especially not this late in the election cycle. Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight crunched the numbers and found that Clinton's unfavorable rating tops the previous record for Republican and Democratic nominees between 1980 and 2012 by a solid 5 percentage points; Trump, meanwhile, smashes the record with an unfavorable rating that's a whopping 20 points higher than the previous record.

Moreover, there's a big difference between the disdain voters felt for the previously most disliked candidate, 1988 Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, and what they feel now for Trump and Clinton. Most Americans didn't feel that strongly one way or another about Dukakis, but voters now have very strong feelings about Trump and Clinton; while some people may really love them, more people really don't. Even when Clinton and Trump's "strongly unfavorable" ratings are subtracted from their "strongly favorable" ratings, the results are still well into the negatives.

Read the full rundown on the numbers — including some pretty damning graphs — over at FiveThirtyEight. Becca Stanek

2:02 p.m. ET
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama landed in Flint, Michigan, on Wednesday for his first visit to the stricken city since its water was contaminated with dangerous levels of lead after the local government changed water sources. In addition to delivering a speech and meeting with city officials and leaders, on Obama's agenda was a meeting with 8-year-old Flint resident Mari Copeny, who had written a letter to the president in March asking to meet with him and his wife during her trip to Washington, D.C to watch Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's congressional hearings. While Obama did not see Copeny, known as "Little Miss Flint," in Washington, he did meet her Wednesday in Michigan — and it was adorable. Watch below. Kimberly Alters

1:18 p.m. ET
George Frey/Getty Images

The last Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, plans to skip his party's national convention in Cleveland this summer and avoid watching the official nomination of Donald Trump, The Washington Post reports. An aide confirmed for the paper on Thursday that "Gov. Romney has no plans to attend."

Romney has spent the past several months firmly situating himself in opposition to Trump, going as far as to rip into him during a formal address in March. In addition, two former Republican presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, both announced Wednesday through their spokesmen that they would not be endorsing a candidate this year. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee, also plans to skip the Cleveland convention.

For his part, Donald Trump doesn't seem too bothered by Romney's likely absence. "I don't care," Trump said. "He can be there if he wants." Jeva Lange

12:20 p.m. ET
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for City Harvest

Donald Trump's campaign announced Thursday that Steven Mnuchin, chairman and CEO of private investment firm Dune Capital Management LP, will serve as Trump's national finance chairman for the general election. Instead of self-funding his general election campaign as he did his primary run, Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has revealed that he will be creating a "world-class finance organization" to actively raise funds to compete with Hillary Clinton's fundraising powerhouse.

Trump's campaign says that Mnuchin, also formerly a partner at Goldman Sachs, will bring the necessary financial experience to what's expected to be a $1 billion campaign. Becca Stanek

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