In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Chief Justice John Roberts may be feeling a flash of déjà vu.

For the second time in three years, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case aimed at toppling Obamacare. Roberts again finds himself caught between the wishes of a movement that made him America's most powerful judge, and the reputation of his institution which is being asked to cripple a sitting president's signature law for the first time in nearly 80 years.

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A St. Louis County grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, and everyone is now trying to figure out what that means.

Brown's death, which surfaced the deeply burrowed and difficult-to-reconcile tensions that in some ways define our nation's history, seems too visceral, too revealing to be without consequence.

But that might be the deep fear that hides behind the second-guessing of the grand jury: No indictment is, as some have said, an indictment of the system. And what if that system is too difficult to change?

"I just think the institutions have to be looked at," Eugene O'Donnell, a former police officer and prosecutor who is now a lecturer at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York, told TPM on Tuesday. "The titillating gotcha stuff, that's unfortunately what dominates the news. The real issues are profoundly more complicated."

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Republicans have promised that Congress will act to counter President Barack Obama's sweeping executive actions on immigration and deportations. But the party is divided on what to do, with the conservative flank pushing for confrontation while party leaders urge restraint and take the temperature for a more cautious approach.

"If we handle this poorly it could blow up in our face," said John Feehery, a longtime Republican strategist turned lobbyist who supports immigration reform.

One possibility that has faded quickly is impeachment. Even immigration reform arch-enemy Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has ruled it out. "I don't want to do the 'I word.' Nobody wants to throw the nation into that kind of turmoil," he told CNN on Thursday after Obama's announcement.

The GOP could begin to establish a course of action as early as next week, when Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess, although it might take longer as some aides point out that the newly elected senators will want to have a say once they take office in January.

"There are options like funding restrictions, or just straight-up legislation. But people are looking at all kinds of ideas," one senior Republican aide said.

Here is the TPM breakdown of the possible scenarios, with early and unofficial, back-of-the-envelope probabilities for each one being attempted (none of which precludes other options). Each option contains significant pitfalls for Republicans when it comes to ultimately reversing what they universally decry as a lawless usurpation of legislative power by Obama.

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The divorce of President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had no singular cause, according to an insider close to Hagel, but boiled largely down to Hagel's dissatisfaction with the Obama White House's national security bureaucracy and the reality that Hagel had become the "weak link" in the public view of the president's foreign policy team.

Steve Clemons, The Atlantic editor-at-large and founder of the New America Foundation's America Strategy program who was a high-profile public advocate for Hagel's nomination as defense secretary, told TPM in a phone interview Monday that Hagel's resignation "happened faster than I expected" but he had expected it to come eventually.

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A battle is heating up between two top Republicans over the coveted chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, carrying implications for the ability of the new GOP Congress to govern as well as the emerging clash over immigration.

The turf war pits Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the committee's ranking member, against Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), a longtime committee member who asserts seniority over his Alabama colleague and is now seeking to reclaim it.

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One of the most important elements of a Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential candidacy might be completely out of her hands.

Two of the favored rhetorical questions around her presumed bid are: How much will she distance herself from President Barack Obama? And, relatedly, will she be able to capture the Obama coalition that propelled the President to victory twice, but hasn't shown up in the midterm elections?

They are of course linked: If Obama is unpopular, a Clinton campaign will be tempted to present a sharp contrast. At the same time, the President will likely remain popular with the core Democratic base that she needs to harness. But the record tells us that, however the Obama presidency is faring like in its final months, it's going to influence his aspiring successor's White House ambitions.

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