FROM Ed Whelan
Presidential Politics and the US Supreme Court President Obama today named a distinguished judge to fill the vacancy on the US Supreme Court. The nominee is a veteran, Merrick Garland , Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, who is well regarded by Senators of both parties. Nevertheless, Republicans were ready to Just Say "No" — not to the judge himself but to his nomination by an outgoing president. They accuse Obama of politicizing the court — the same charge Democrats have leveled against Republicans under similar circumstances. That's intensifying this year's race for the White House just one day after another round of primary elections.
Same-Sex Marriage: Who Should Decide? The first time same-sex marriage was officially recognized was in Holland in 2001. Now, it's permitted in 36 American states and the District of Columbia. Today, the US Supreme Court was asked to overturn bans on the practice in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee — essentially legalizing it for the entire country. History and the speed of change were on the minds of justices including Anthony Kennedy, who observed, "I don't even know how to count the decimals when we talk about millennia. This definition has been with us for millennia, and it's very difficult for the court to say, 'oh well, we know better'." Can nine justices rule that gays and lesbians should be able to marry — or is that a right granted to individuals by the Constitution? Should the US Supreme Court let the democratic process continue state by state? These were some of the questions raised today in a case asking the Court to overturn gay-marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. We hear about some arguments rooted in ancient history and others based on the recent sea-change in public opinion.
The Supreme Court Wraps Up Its Term Two key Supreme Court decisions were made today. One allows closely held companies to opt out of the requirement of having to provide contraception coverage for employees under Obamacare; the other allows some public employees to avoid paying dues to the union representing them. In a 5-4 decision today the court sided with the Hobby Lobby crafts stores and Conestoga Wood, a cabinet making company, in a contraceptive case. Both companies claimed their Christian beliefs compel them not to cover certain kinds of contraception mandated under Obamacare. The court ruled that so-called “closely held” companies such as these qualify could for an exemption under the healthcare law if it violated the owners’ religious beliefs. In the other big ruling this morning, the Court decided that unions cannot force home care workers to pay their dues. Many labor supporters and court watchers referred to Harris v. Quinn as the session’s sleeper case -- seemingly a dry challenge over the right of unions to demand dues, but lying just below the surface are implications that could affect the future of electoral politics, immigration reform, hiking the minimum wage, and other issues of vital national importance.
A New Justice and a New Term for a Court in Transition The US Supreme Court began its first full term today. Justice Sonia Sotomayor , who's replacing retired Justice David Souter adds a new face to America's highest court, though it's not clear she'll make much of a difference on major decisions. Conservatives still dominate five to four, with Anthony Kennedy the bouncing ball on constitutional questions and precedents. If Chief Justice Roberts goes ideological, decisions on gun rights, religion, campaign spending and executive power could be legal blockbusters. Is he more likely to guide the court to "incremental" rulings less likely to be overridden while Congress is controlled by the Democrats?
Credentials and Criticisms of Supreme Court Nominee Sotomayor President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the US Supreme Court. She has a total of 17 years' experience on the federal bench. The daughter of Puerto Rican parents was nominated to the US District Court by President George H.W. Bush, and promoted to the Federal Court of Appeals by Bill Clinton.
Barack Obama and the Highest Court in the Land President Obama this morning nominated Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the US Supreme Court. The daughter of Puerto Rican parents with a total of 17 years' experience on the federal bench was nominated to the US District Court by President George H.W. Bush, and promoted to the Federal Court of Appeals by Bill Clinton. Speaking of Sotomayor, the President observed that "she would bring more experience on the bench, and more varied experience on the bench, than anyone currently serving on the United States Supreme Court had when they were appointed."
Getting answers on phone taps, Russia and leaking The Directors of the FBI and the NSA testified on Capitol Hill today there's no evidence for President Trump's claim he was wire-tapped by former President Obama. We'll hear about that and the investigation into Russian tampering with last year's presidential campaign.
Cover-up or witch hunt?: The latest on the WH ties to Russia Less than two months into his Presidency, Donald Trump is struggling to get his agenda under way, making it harder himself with tweets that dominate public attention. Meanwhile, important questions are going unanswered: why have staff members and the Attorney General lied about contacts with Russian officials?
The President and America's infrastructure: Bait and switch? President Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure proposal may not be what it seems. We look at the prospects for much-needed improvements in roads, bridges and airports.