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How the Republicans can stop someone like Trump getting this close again

Jue, 17/03/2016 - 21:13

AND then there were three. The winnowing of the Republican presidential field has not proceeded as anyone would have expected last summer. Now that Marco Rubio has suspended his campaign following his disastrous showing in his home state of Florida, all the pre-primary favourites, including Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, have bowed out. Instead, the finalists are Donald Trump, a joke candidate turned dominant front-runner; Ted Cruz, the “most hated man in the Senate”; and John Kasich, a mild-mannered Midwestern governor who looked doomed (and probably still is) to a Jon Huntsman-style also-ran finish. It can be hard to see what, if anything, these candidates have in common. But upon further review, it is the yawning chasms between them that are the most revealing about the current state of the nomination process.

Mr Rubio was an on-and-off Continue reading

Barack Obama nominates Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat

Mié, 16/03/2016 - 20:57

ON MARCH 16th, in a move that may test the mettle of recalcitrant Senate Republicans, Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a widely respected and politically moderate judge, to fill the late Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat. Mr Obama presented Mr Garland as a “serious man and exemplary judge” who is “uniquely prepared” for the job. He is one of “America’s sharpest legal minds...who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence”, the president said. The nominee, who has been vetted but passed over for the Supreme Court bench by Mr Obama twice before, said that his nomination was, next to his engagement to his wife, “the greatest honour of my life”.  

According to expert court-watcher Tom Goldstein, Mr Garland is a choice “from Hollywood central casting”. He earned undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard, worked as a clerk for Judge Henry Friendly and Justice William Brennan, was made partner in an elite law firm in a blazing four years and, during a mid-1990s stint in the Justice Department, was involved in prosecuting the Unabomber and the masterminds of the...Continue reading

A refreshing break from ideology at the Supreme Court

Mié, 16/03/2016 - 15:59

IN THE wake of Justice Scalia's death last month, America's Senate finds itself embroiled in a debate over the nature of its constitutional duty to provide “advice and consent” on Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to replace him. But as a spotlight is trained on the judiciary as a central issue in the presidential campaign, the eight sitting justices are keeping their heads down and quietly doing their jobs.

In the past two weeks, we have seen several signs that the Supreme Court may be keen to tamp down the blaring partisanship that has been casting a cloud over its work. First was a nearly-unanimous order blocking a 5th-circuit court decision that would have radically curtailed abortion access in Louisiana. Next was a unanimous back-of-the-hand summary reversal of an Alabama Supreme Court decision rejecting a gay parent’s adoption. And in a 6-2 decision issued last week, an ideological hodgepodge of justices coalesced around a ruling that will lengthen the prison sentence of a...Continue reading

A big night for Trump, Clinton and Kasich is Rubio’s last

Mié, 16/03/2016 - 08:10

VOTER turnout in Illinois appeared to have beaten the record set in the primary elections of 2008, when Barack Obama, who had adopted Chicago as his hometown, and Hillary Clinton, who was born in Chicago, were opponents on the Democratic Party’s ballot. In other election years both parties had pretty much settled on their candidate by the time Illinois—as well as Ohio, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and the Northern Mariana Islands’ commonwealth—got to vote. This time was different, because voters realised how much was at stake. The vote on March 15th would determine whether Donald Trump could be stopped as Republican nominee and whether it would make sense for his rivals, John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, and Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida, to stay in the race. It was also to decide whether another insurgent, Bernie Sanders, has a realistic chance to wrest the Democratic crown from Mrs Clinton. 

In the course of the evening it became clear that one of the most controversial candidates for the presidency in Republican history will probably be the party’s nominee. Mr Trump won Florida, which netted him 99...Continue reading

The depressing spectacle of Donald Trump’s rallies

Lun, 14/03/2016 - 07:45

IT MUST be painful for President Barack Obama to see some of the worst incidents of racial tensions and violence of his presidency erupt during its last few months. On March 12th, in offering his assessment of the violent clashes between supporters of Donald Trump and protesters, the president struck a sombre tone. Those who aspire to be our leaders should be trying to bring us together, speak out against violence and reject efforts to spread fear, he said at a fundraiser in Dallas. “And if they refuse to do that, they don’t deserve our support.”

Mr Obama didn’t mention Mr Trump by name. He didn’t have to. The day before his speech in Dallas, the increasingly ugly violence at Trump rallies induced a paroxysm in Chicago, the president’s adopted hometown. Mr Trump was scheduled to speak at the nearly 10,000-seat pavilion of University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), which has a racially diverse student body and is located on the ethnically mixed west side of a city that is a Democratic stronghold. He never showed up in the lion’s den, deeply disappointing thousands of his red-capped supporters, who had queued for hours to hear him...Continue reading

The Supreme Court delivers a win for gay adoption

Vie, 11/03/2016 - 20:10

MOST front-page Supreme Court stories involve fraught cases, closely divided votes and biting dissents. But the justices achieve unanimity much more often than they find themselves split 5-4 (or this spring, with their depleted bench, 4-4) and occasionally those unanimous rulings are big news. Such is the case with V.L. v E.L., an interstate dispute involving a row between two women who were sweethearts for nearly 17 years and co-parents for 13 years before their falling out in 2011. In an unsigned 6-page “per curiam” ruling this week, the Supreme Court, without dissent, upbraided the Alabama Supreme Court for failing to honour a neighbour state’s adoption order that gave V.L. and E.L. joint custody of their children 9 years ago.  

Here are the facts. E.L. and V.L. began a relationship in 1995; E.L. gave birth to a child in 2002 and to twins in 2004. Three years later, V.L. legally adopted the children during the couple’s brief...Continue reading

Louisiana's new governor tries to narrow the budget shortfall

Vie, 11/03/2016 - 15:44

THE POLITICS surrounding Louisiana’s deepening budget crisis might be entertaining if the situation wasn’t so dire. The state has a cash shortfall of nearly $1 billion that must be made up in just a few months, with an even bigger deficit looming in 2017. And it mostly falls to Louisiana’s newly minted governor, John Bel Edwards—a Democrat in one of America’s reddest states—to fix it.

When Mr Edwards won in a surprise landslide in November it was the first time since 2003 a Democrat had claimed the state’s top office. Some saw the result—in which Mr Edwards, a little-known state representative, crushed the Republican senator David Vitter—as a sign that the political pendulum in Louisiana was swinging leftward. It seems more likely, however, that the vote was simply a repudiation of the unpopular Mr Vitter.

But if Mr Edwards was lucky at the polls, he didn’t exactly win the lottery. Louisiana’s budget was in such rotten shape that he had almost no choice but to begin proposing new taxes as soon as he had taken the oath of office in January. He complained, with good reason, that the...Continue reading

The Republicans broke form to affect civility

Vie, 11/03/2016 - 08:02

FISTICUFFS? Mooning? A hand-measuring contest? Had Thursday’s Republican debate at the University of Miami followed the tonal trajectory of the previous 11, who knows what depths of taste and egomania it might have fathomed. But, from the candidates’ opening statements, in which Donald Trump went after Hillary Clinton, eschewing his attacks on Lyin’ Ted [Cruz] and Little Marco [Rubio]—epithets that remained unspoken throughout the evening—the atmosphere was different. Next came reasonably serious discussions of trade and visa policy. Perhaps concerned for her channel’s ratings, CNN’s moderator asked Mr Cruz:  “Did you just compare Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton?” “I’ll let Donald speak for himself,” Mr Cruz tamely replied.  “I cannot believe how civil it’s been up here,” Mr Trump observed.

Neither could anyone else. It felt as if, between the candidates, there must have been some sort of deal, to use Mr Trump’s favourite expression. (A word cloud of the evening might reveal that his top usages were “deal” and “many”, the latter with reference to his Israeli friends, his Cuban friends, and...Continue reading

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