FROM Mark Joseph Stern
Will Sessions appoint a special counsel? News broke yesterday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering whether to appoint a special counsel to investigate President Trump’s political rivals, including an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. The report raises questions about whether the Justice Department is operating independently from the Trump Administration.
Is Arpaio pardon a bad sign for the Mueller investigation? Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaking with supporters of Donald Trump at a rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore After years in office, Joe Arpaio lost his most recent election as Sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, Arizona. He was convicted of contempt of court for refusing to stop illegally detaining Latinos while still in office. But before he was even sentenced by a federal Judge, President Trump issued a pardon. Last Friday, he tweeted that Arpaio was "an American patriot" who "kept America safe." Mark Joseph Stern, a legal correspondent for Slate , discusses what this most unusual pardon could portend for the future.
Gorsuch sworn in to fill ninth SCOTUS seat After more than a year since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in today as the ninth Justice of the US Supreme Court. Today's oath was administered, not by Chief Justice John Roberts, but fellow Justice Anthony Kennedy. President Trump explained, “It is a fitting testament to Justice Kennedy's impact that upon giving the oath to Justice Gorsuch, he will become the first ever Supreme Court justice to serve with one of his former law clerks.” Mark Joseph Stern, who reports on the court for Slate.com , says Gorsuch will soon cast a vote in a series of blockbuster cases.
Opening day of the Gorsuch nomination hearings Republicans in the Senate never allowed a vote on President Obama's appointment of Merrick Garland to the US Supreme Court. Democrats have not forgotten. That was clear today as the Judiciary Committee took up President Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch . Mark Jospeh Stern , legal affairs reporter for Slate , has an update.
The brewing battle over Number 9 In splashy prime-time fashion President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch , a federal appellate court judge from Colorado to the US Supreme Court yesterday, fulfilling a campaign promise to nominate a conservative originalist. At 49, Gorsuch is expected to keep the court's conservative status quo for years to come. Some Democrats want to fight the nomination as payback for Republicans stonewalling President Obama's own pick, for nearly a year. Will the GOP escalate all the way to what's called “the nuclear option -- and do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees altogether?
Is it possible to get rid of the Electoral College? Last Tuesday, about 700,000 more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. Nevertheless, Trump won because of the Electoral College. Now there are ideas to get rid of it or work around it.
A strange new term begins at the US Supreme Court Photo by Matt Wade Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died early this year, and the Senate has not even considered President Obama's nominee to replace him. Today, the Court heard the first arguments of this year's session with an empty chair -- and an uncertain future. Mark Joseph Stern, who covers the Court for Slate, looks at which cases are likely to make the news.
Is Justice Ginsburg Risking Her Legacy Over Trump? In the past week, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, has publicly criticized Donald Trump—suggesting that his election as President would pose a danger to the Republic. Her remarks been criticized from the left and the right. The New York Times says Ginsburg “needs to drop the political punditry and name-calling.” Yesterday, Donald Trump called it “inappropriate” for a judge to “get involved in a political campaign.” Later, he tweeted, her “mind is shot” and she ought to “resign.” Photo courtesy: European University Institute
NC Governor Sues Federal Government over "Bathroom Law" Governor Pat McCrory today said North Carolina's new law regulating the use of public bathrooms by transgender people has become a national issue. The State has already sued the federal government for over-reach. " The Obama Administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set basic restroom policies, locker room and shower policies for public and private employers across the country and not just in North Carolina." Mark Joseph Stern, who covers legal affairs and LGBT issues for Slate , has an update.
Kentucky Clerk Defies Orders, Turns Gay Couples Away Yesterday, a federal judge ordered clerks in Kentucky to issue licenses for same-sex marriage. This morning, two gay couples were turned down by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis. Mark Joseph Stern covers law and the courts for Slate .
Could Texas Become Nearly Abortion-Free? Access to abortion is already limited to 20 or so clinics in Texas. Now a federal court ruling could close down even more. Yesterday, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Lakey , the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of abortion limits in the Lone Star State — partly on the ground that women in Texas can drive to another state. We hear more from Mark Jospeh Stern, who covers legal affairs and LGBT issues for Slate.com , and investigative reporter Erica Hellerstein of Think Progress , who covered abortion access at the US-Mexico border.
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.
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.
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.
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?