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?
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.