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Primary upsets

2010 News of the Year | June

Issue: "2010 News of the Year," Jan. 1, 2011

By early June incumbents were getting the voters' message: Your reelection is not guaranteed, not even in primary contests within your own party. Three-term Republican senator from Utah Robert Bennett lost in May. Then a House member and 14-term Democrat, Alan Mollohan from West Virginia, lost his primary to a state legislator. And anti-establishment fever toppled the five-term Republican-turned-Democrat senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter.

"They're angry and they're angry at Washington. And I'm in Washington," said Bennett, explaining the end of his nearly two-decade career representing Utah. The anger continued through the summer and fall. Even endorsements from the nation's most powerful lawmakers proved meaningless: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's pick for the next senator from his own home state of Kentucky got crushed by Tea Party firebrand Rand Paul.

Supremes rule

A surprising Supreme Court decision in June means that a Christian student group won't be recognized on campus any longer. The court ruled 5-4 against the Christian Legal Society, which the University of California Hastings School of Law barred because it required voting members to agree to a statement of faith. The school's policy forbids student groups to have membership requirements like faith statements. While the court found that policy to be constitutional, several justices criticized the policy as "ill-advised" and "weird" because it would require a Democratic group to admit Republicans into membership, for example. Scholars of the court had expected the court to rule in the Christian group's favor, as it had in past instances of universities banning Christian groups, like the 1995 case Rosenberger v. University of Virginia.

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In another decision, the court ruled 5-4 to allow the Mojave cross, built more than 75 years ago to honor the World War I dead, to stand in the desert. Just after the long-running case was decided, however, the cross itself was stolen and has not been replaced. Justice Anthony Kennedy proved to be the swing vote in both the cross and Christian student group cases.

To infinity . . . and beyond

Woody and Buzz never get old, even if Andy is going off to college. Fans of the Toy Story franchise turned out in record numbers for its third installment, making Toy Story 3's opening day the biggest gross ever for an animated film, and its opening weekend the highest-grossing of any Pixar film. In this case crowd appeal and critical acclaim go hand in hand; by year's end it was on the short lists for a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

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