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Court shuns sex-equality case

The Supreme Court has sidestepped an important sex discrimination dispute, letting stand a decision allowing school boards to keep some boys' and girls' athletic teams ''separate but equal.''

The justices, without comment, rejected an appeal by Karen O'Connor, who wanted to play basketball on the sixth-grade boys team at a suburban Chicago school.

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Returning from a two-week recess, the high court also:

* Agreed to weigh a migrant worker controversy over whether Puerto Rico can sue to force East Coast apple growers to use Puerto Rican workers instead of Jamaicans.

* Rejected an effort to stop the metric conversion movement.

* Let stand a decision ordering the powerful Bechtel Corporation to abide by an agreement not to participate in an anti-Israel boycott of businesses.

* Refused to disturb a free-speech ruling from California allowing cities to ban the posting of political campaign signs on public property.

* Refused to hear the argument by the air traffic controllers union that federal courts may not block strikes or other job actions by federal workers.

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