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Firing of public officials for partisanship ruled out

The Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 Monday that officials in a public defender's office may not be fired because of partisan political allegiance. The decision could have a widespread effect on use of political patronage to fill both state and federal government positions.

The high court affirmed a lower-court ruling that barred a Democratic public defender in Rockland County, N.Y., from dismissing two Republican assistants to a previous public defender.

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