The Note’s Must-Reads for Monday, March 24, 2014

By Jayce Henderson

Mar 24, 2014 3:59am

The Note’s Must-Reads are a round-up of today’s political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News’ Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and Janine Elliot

HEALTH CARE
The Hill’s Ben Goad: “High court to weigh limits of religious liberty in O-Care case” President Obama’s signature healthcare law is headed back to the Supreme Court in a high-stakes case that could redefine the limits of religious freedom in the United States.The high court on Tuesday will hear challenges to ObamaCare’s contentious “birth control mandate,” which requires companies to offer contraceptive services to workers as part of their insurance coverage.  If successful, the challenge could peel away a significant portion of the mandate, potentially affecting preventive health coverage for millions of women and striking a major blow to the law itself. LINK

Washington Post’s Robert Barnes: “High court with vocally devout justices set to hear religious objections to health-care law” There’s something that makes the current Supreme Court different from some of its recent predecessors. The justices got religion. Or at least they seem more open about their faith, appearing before devout audiences and talking more about how religion shaped their lives or guides them now. As the court this week weighs religious conviction vs. legal obligation in the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, those who study the court say the change is hard to quantify but easy to notice. LINK

UKRAINE
ABC News’ Benjamin Bell: “Ukrainian Foreign Minister: Chances of War With Russia ‘Becoming Higher’” Today on “This Week,” the acting Ukrainian foreign minister, speaking exclusively with ABC’s Martha Raddatz, expressed deep concern about the buildup of Russian troops on the eastern border of Ukraine, saying that the chances of war were “becoming higher.” We are very much concerned about this development, the deployment of Russian troops on our eastern borders,” Ukraine’s Andrii Deshchytsia said on “This Week.” “We are ready to respond and, as you know, the Ukraine government is trying to use all the peaceful diplomatic means and diplomatic means to stop Russians but the people are also ready to defend their homeland.” LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman: “U.S. Scurries To Shore Up Spying On Russia” U.S. military satellites spied Russian troops amassing within striking distance of Crimea last month. But intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn’t intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders or soldiers discussed plans to invade. America’s vaunted global surveillance is a vital tool for U.S. intelligence services, especially as an early-warning system and as a way to corroborate other evidence. In Crimea, though, U.S. intelligence officials are concluding that Russian planners might have gotten a jump on the West by evading U.S. eavesdropping. LINK

The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan: “A Ukraine divide: Congress, world leaders debate how to counter Russia” President Obama will try to forge a consensus on Ukraine when he meets this week with top allies in Europe, but he has had trouble winning unity even back home, where Democrats and Republicans are sparring over the outlines of U.S. policy, including military and financial aid. Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on the need to pass legislation showing a unified front against Russian President Vladimir Putin, and party leaders generally concur on the outlines, but add-ons and tangential fights have left them gridlocked. LINK

The New York Daily News’ Adam Edelman: “Ukrainian, U.S. officials prepare for possible war as Russia continues military buildup on border” Ukraine’s foreign minister said Sunday that the prospect of war with Russia was “growing” as the embattled country’s powerful neighbor continued to build its military presence at their shared border. “This situation is becoming even more explosive than it used to be a week ago,” Andrii Deshchytsia said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We are ready to respond. And as you know, the Ukrainian government is trying to use all their peaceful means and diplomatic means to stop Russians. But the people are also ready to defend their homeland,” he added. LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Richard Simon: “Congress to debate Ukraine aid amid worries about Russian troops” As the Senate prepares to take up an aid package for Ukraine this week, congressional Republicans on Sunday called for stronger sanctions against Moscow amid heightened concerns about a Russian troop movements. “It’s deeply concerning to see the Russian troop buildup along the border,” White House deputy national security advisor Tony Blinken told CNN’s “State of the Union.”‘ “It creates the potential for incidents, for instability,” he continued. “It’s likely that what they’re trying to do is intimidate the Ukrainians. It’s possible that they’re preparing to move in.” LINK

NY Times’ Michael D. Shear, Alison Smale and David M. Herszenhorn: “Obama and Allies Seek Firm, United Response as Russia Grips Crimea” As Russia consolidated its hold on Crimea, raising its flag over seized military bases and detaining ousted Ukrainian commanders on Sunday, President Obama and his international allies prepared to meet here in an effort to develop a strong, united response despite their diverging interests in dealing with the Kremlin. After Russia’s invasion of Crimea and the lightning annexation of the peninsula by President Vladimir V. Putin last week, Mr. Obama’s decision to convene the leaders of several European countries, along with Canada and Japan, brought the nations — once again the Group of 7, without Russia — together for the first time since the crisis in Ukraine upended the stability and security of Europe. LINK

Washington Post’s Scott Wilson: “Obama’s aim to shift U.S. foreign policy runs up against an old Cold War rival“  President Obama has long said he intends to push the country’s approach to the world into the 21st century and away from the power politics of the past. But now his effort to make U.S. foreign policy more modest and cooperative and less reliant on military power has run into the nostalgic nationalism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was a KGB officer as the Soviet Union began its collapse. Putin’s annexation of Crimea is complete, and the Obama administration has shifted its focus to preventing a deeper Russian military incursion into eastern and southern Ukraine.  LINK

Politico’s John F. Harris: “Ambassador, dear, you are lying” President Barack Obama arrives Tuesday in the capital of Europe, a city of frameworks and furrowed brows, of multilateral dialogue and expressions of grave concern, where the locals speak French, international bureaucrats do their work in English, and representatives of the 28 member countries of the European Union are all fluent in the universal language of blah, blah, blah.It takes a powerful force to jolt this place out of its usual instinct for diplomatic abstractions and harumphing; Russian President Valdimir Putin turns out to be up to the task. LINK

Bloomberg’s Terry Atlas and Derek Wallbank: “U.S. Congress Spars Over Aid for Ukraine as Russia Masses Troops” While U.S. Congress members were out of town on a weeklong break, their Russian counterparts redrew the map of Europe. After Russia’s parliament took just three days to approve a treaty annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula; pro-Russian units pushed forces loyal to the government in Kiev out of their last positions in Crimea and Russia massed troops, armor and airpower all along the Ukrainian border. While the crisis has escalated, American lawmakers have been sparring inconclusively with one another and with President Barack Obama for several weeks over legislation to provide economic aid to the new, Western-leaning Ukrainian government.  LINK

GOVERNORS
USA Today’s Martha T. Moore: “Among GOP Governors, Corbett Of Pa. Lags Behind” Pennsylvania is a big state, but from wherever Republican Gov. Tom Corbett stands, the view is bleak. To the east is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a GOP star and presidential contender despite his recent troubles over a bridge scandal. On the western border, Ohio Gov. John Kasich suffered a blow when voters repealed his law limiting public-sector unions, but he’s still been mentioned as a 2016 possibility along with other GOP governors such as Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Joshua Miller: “GOP Ballot May Face Challenge” The campaign of a gubernatorial candidate who narrowly missed winning a spot on the Republican primary ballot is threatening to sue the state Republican party and dispute the results of Saturday’s GOP convention in court. Mark R. Fisher, a Shrewsbury businessman who is aligned with the Tea Party movement, fell about six votes short — out of more than 2,500 cast by convention delegates — from joining Charlie Baker on the September Republican primary ballot, the state party said. LINK

Gov CHRIS CHRISTIE
NY Times’ Michael Barbaro: “Inquiry Is Said to Clear Christie, but That’s His Lawyer’s Verdict” With his office suddenly engulfed in scandal over lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey two months ago summoned a pair of top defense lawyers from an elite law firm to the State House and asked them to undertake an extensive review of what had gone wrong. Now, after 70 interviews and at least $1 million in legal fees to be paid by state taxpayers, that review is set to be released, and according to people with firsthand knowledge of the inquiry, it has uncovered no evidence that the governor was involved in the plotting or directing of the lane closings. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO
‘This Week’: Powerhouse PuzzlerLINK
‘This Week’: Search For Malaysia Air 370LINK
‘This Week’: Malaysia Air MysteryLINK
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver Projects The 2014 Senate RacesLINK

BOOKMARKS
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