FROM Garrett Epps
Neil Gorsuch confirmation hearings, day two The grilling began today for Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's nominee to the US Supreme Court. Senate Democrats are still angry that Republicans blocked Obama nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Here's Vermont's Patrick Leahy and the Gorsuch response. Garrett Epps, Supreme Court correspondent for the Atlantic and a professor at the Baltimore School of Law, says Gorsuch has thus far been successful in deflecting Democrats' attacks.
Use the Bathroom, Break the Law The federal government says the state of North Carolina is violating the civil rights of transgender people. A new law requires them to use only those public bathrooms designated for the sex on their birth certificates, not the sex that defines their sense of identity. Attorney General Loretta Lynch compares it to the Jim Crow laws used to discriminate against black Americans after the Civil War. Billions in federal education money could be withheld, and Governor Pat McCrory says Washington's being a "bully." Even before its clear how the law might be enforced, legal actions could lead to decisions with national impact.
Indiana's Religious Freedom Law Over the weekend, Indiana governor Mike Pence was on the defensive about the state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Critics -- like Apple CEO Tim Cook, the President of the NCAA, the mayor of San Francisco, and many others -- have blasted the law. They say religious conservatives will be able to use the law as a means to discriminate against LGBT people. And now Governor Pence and Indiana legislators say they plan to “clarify” its intent.
Political Brinksmanship and the Debt Ceiling Treasury Secretary Geithner says the first default in US government history would mean economic catastrophe , and it's just two weeks away. David Brooks (at left), the New York Times' conservative columnist shocked Washington this week by saying that Republicans may not be "fit to govern." Many Republicans see default as an opportunity to force massive spending cuts, even if the government has to shut down. But President Obama rejects any short-term fix and sees an opportunity of another kind. Will Republicans drive the country into default? Has the President made too many concessions or, as he said yesterday, is this an "opportunity to do something big?" Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The Debt Limit and Economic Brinksmanship With the first default in US government history predicted for August 2, President Obama has rejected any short-term fix . Tomorrow, he's invited the top two Democratic and Republican leaders of both parties to visit the White House "to do something big." Treasury Secretary Geithner says default would mean economic catastrophe. Speaker John Boehner says Obama doesn't understand "economic and legislative reality," but will show up at the White House tomorrow. "Legislative reality" could mean that Boehner can't control his own Republican members, many of whom deny that default will have dire consequences and see it as an opportunity to force massive spending cuts, even if the government has to shut down. Should the President be happy to get even a short-term fix? Has he already made so many concessions that Republicans could claim victory?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.