TPM Cafe: Opinion

Given how often it has been left for dead, the Tea Party has had a pretty heady few months. Just when it seemed that long-serving solid Republican incumbents would avoid losing primary fights to Tea Party identified candidates, Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran was forced into a run-off he barely won, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor surprisingly lost his primary by a large margin to a poorly funded college professor backed by grassroots Virginia Tea Partiers.

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On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States sided with the right to work movement and weakened the ability of hundreds of thousands of U.S. domestic workers to collectively bargain for higher wages. In its 5-4 ruling on Harris v. Quinn, the Court held it is a violation of the First Amendment for the state of Illinois to assess dues on home care workers for the purposes of paying for collective bargaining efforts. This decision affects the several states who have in-home care programs like Illinois’s program, including California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, and Missouri.

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The Republican Party is at war with itself – and has been since 2010 when several self-styled "insurgents" identified with the Tea Party challenged established Republicans in the primaries. Not all challengers win, but to date upsets by Tea Party challengers have cost the GOP at least seven seats in general elections for the U.S. Senate. This is a source of continuing friction between the officially entrenched and Tea Party factions of the Republican Party, and key policy disputes between the two camps further fuel discord. Policy cracks in the Republican Congressional conferences emerged during the debt ceiling disputes of 2011, when top House and Senate GOP leaders sought compromise with Democrats but Tea Party types refused to go along. Similar disagreements have emerged over a series of issues including immigration reform, renewal of federal highway funding, tactics for opposing the Affordable Care Act, and now the issue of the renewal of the federal Export-Import Bank.

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The Supreme Court has unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that created a “buffer zone” around abortion clinics, barring anti-choice protestors from standing within 35 feet of the entrance of reproductive health clinics that provide abortion care. Not surprisingly, this law didn’t go over well with protestors, who claimed that such a zone interfered with their attempts to do what they euphemistically called “counseling” — approaching women that were going into the clinic and harassing them about their medical decisions.

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The narrow re-nomination victory of six-term Republican Senator Thad Cochran in the Mississippi primary run-off may well mark a watershed moment in politics in the South. In his desperation to overtake Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel, who beat him in the first round of the primary, Cochran hit upon a novel idea: to invite the black community into the final stage of the Republican Party nomination battle. On the campaign trail, Cochran said he had never been averse to helping out the African American community. By bringing home the bacon – federal spending and grants – to one of the most pork-laden states, Cochran bragged that he had helped buoy the interests of the poor in general and the state’s large black community in particular.

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The Occupy movement started on Wall Street and now its sibling, the grassroots movement to restore community wealth, has come to New York City.

On Wednesday, a broad coalition of community activists joined with four allies on the New York City Council to draw attention to the epidemic of foreclosures and to call for immediate action to help rescue homeowners who are drowning in debt.

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Jennifer calls late on a Friday, leaving a short, anxious voicemail. She can no longer afford her doctor’s appointment — less than 24 hours away — because she was too sick to work this week and didn’t earn the extra couple hundred dollars she needs to pay for it. Her pregnancy has been making her sick for weeks now and she can’t stand to postpone her appointment, never mind the fact that the cost of the appointment will go up if she waits just one week more.

And now, thanks to a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision this morning, Jennifer will face harassment and judgment as protestors follow her right up to the door of her doctor's office.

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Scott Walker may not be a criminal, and that’s about the nicest thing you can say about him.

Last week, documents were unsealed in one of the investigations against the Wisconsin governor’s staff. In the documents, prosecutors describe a “criminal scheme” to evade campaign-finance law — a scheme directed by Walker himself, and his top aides.

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