In it, but not of it. TPM DC

During a Tuesday meeting at the White House with President Obama, GOP Senate leaders remained unbowed in refusing to consider his nominee to the Supreme Court, according to top Democrats present.

"They were adamant. They said no, we are not going to do this at all. We are going to do what has never been done before," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters at a stakeout after Tuesday's meeting, according to the White House pool report. "All we want them to do is fulfill their constitutional duty and do their job. At this phase they have decided not to do that."

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The two sides arguing a blockbuster Supreme Court abortion case will walk into the courtroom Wednesday knowing that the debate will have the potential to shape a woman’s access to the procedure for a generation or longer. But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia almost guarantees that conservatives will not be able to issue a majority opinion that would have given states nationwide the freedom to restrict abortion as they pleased -- as was the fear of abortion rights proponents when the court accepted the case.

In the case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, pro-choice forces are asking the court to strike down a Texas law mandating myriad restrictions that have a closed a large swath of its clinics can still score a victory by winning over Justice Anthony Kennedy to their side and stemming the tide of abortion restrictions passed in red states in recent years.

The lack of Scalia's ninth vote -- one that certainly would have favored the law’s defenders -- blunts the potential impact of even an outcome that would amount to a loss for abortion rights activists.

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The Supreme Court has only been in session without Justice Antonin Scalia for a week. But already, his death is affecting cases, and particularly decisions not to take certain cases to the Supreme Court without the guarantee of his vote.

Last week, Dow Chemical made headlines by opting for a $835 million settlement in a class action lawsuit rather than risk having the case heard by a Scalia-less Supreme Court. A lower court had already ruled against the company for allegedly conspiring to fix prices for industrial chemicals, and prior to the settlement, Dow had appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.

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Sen. Chuck Grassley cracked open the door to the Senate's Mansfield Room. He craned as little of his neck and glasses around the tall wooden door as possible.

Earlier in the morning, on their first full day back in session since the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans had announced that the Judiciary Committee would not even hold hearings on any nominee picked by President Barack Obama to succeed Scalia.

Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had managed to avoid the press so far that day. Now, as he peered down the hall, he caught a glimpse of cameras and reporters staking him out. They had anticipated that Grassley might try to sneak out the back way and were waiting for him.

He quickly retreated back inside like a groundhog seeing his shadow.

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Hillary Clinton is projected to score a big victory over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina Saturday, putting her on a two-state winning streak when she was able to capitalize on a diverse electorate.

Clinton’s appeal to black voters was key in the state. Six in 10 Democratic primary voters were African American, according to early exit polls, the Associated Press reported. Despite Sanders' efforts to make inroads in the African-American community, he was unable to truly tighten the race. Exit polls suggested that Clinton won eight in 10 of black voters, according to the AP. After her solid victory in the Latino-rich state of Nevada, Clinton’s success in South Carolina solidifies her argument that she has a support base that is more diverse than Sanders’ and thus a stronger candidate for the general election.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) rocked the Republican presidential primary on Friday with an endorsement of Donald Trump, calling the real estate mogul the candidate best "prepared to provide America with the strong leadership."

In a joint press conference in Fort Worth it was all back-slapping and bonhomie between the two formal rivals. But way back --- errr, two weeks ago -- when Christie was still a candidate in the presidential race, he was targeting The Donald just like the other GOP also-rans. Perhaps stung by Christie's barbs, Trump even noted earlier this month that Christie "used to be a friend" but things had changed. Until today.

Here are some of Christie's most pointed attacks on Trump from the primary campaign:

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Perhaps the panic in Washington that Donald Trump will become the GOP's 2016 nominee echoed all the way to Texas. Because at Thursday’s CNN/Telemundo debate in Houston, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz took a break from hitting each other to aim some shots at the Republican primary’s frontrunner.

Trump didn’t take these punches lying down. He steamrolled Rubio’s criticisms of his hiring practices by roaring back, "You've hired nobody." And he was quick to remind Cruz that none of his colleagues in the Senate GOP had endorsed him. Many of the night's tussles climaxed with Rubio and Cruz barking at Trump simultaneously, while Trump, in between them, effortlessly batted them both off.

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When Republicans announced this week that they would not even hold hearings for President Barack Obama's eventual nominee to the Supreme Court, Democrats were floored.

They weren’t expecting the political battle royale Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) challenged them to, but publicly and privately they say that they think McConnell has overreached and given them a political opening.

A Democratic leadership aide called the situation “a win, win, win, win, win for us."

"All we have to do is not screw this up," the aide said.

The biggest test for Democrats, and the source of the most uncertainty, is sustaining the message all the way until November. With no confirmation hearings, high-profile courtesy calls for the nominee to pay to GOP senators, or any of the other media-heavy trappings of the normal confirmation process, keeping the story afloat will be their challenge. But that effort is already underway.

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