In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Can anyone catch him now?

Donald Trump is projected to win the South Carolina primary Saturday night, his second statewide win this month and a troubling sign for Republican leaders who originally hoped Trumpmentum would be a passing fad.

As the Republican primary remains crowded, with Govs. Jeb Bush and John Kasich and Sen. Marco Rubio continuing to battle it out to win the establishment money and electoral support, Trump has consistently broken out among an electorate hungry for a "say-it-like-it-is" Washington outsider.

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders in Saturday’s Nevada caucus Saturday, a crucial win for the former first lady as she seeks to prove that she has a broader appeal in diverse electorates than the democratic socialist from Vermont.

“Americans are right to be angry, but we are also hungry for real solutions," Clinton said Saturday night during her victory speech.

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If any Republican senator is thinking about defecting from the GOP’s tough line on blocking a Supreme Court nomination until next year, then let them be warned. Outside conservative groups are preparing to go to war over who should get to pick a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly over the weekend, and they don’t want to see even a hearing considering the nominee President Obama has vowed to put forward.

“The strategy that makes the most sense is to say that there should not be any consideration of this nominee,” Curt Levey, executive director of the FreedomWorks Foundation, said in an interview with TPM. "It would be irrelevant to have a hearing because it’s the situation: the fact that it’s an election year, the fact that his policies are before the court, the fact that the court is so finely balanced at the moment.”

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's bold statement that President Barack Obama should not even nominate a replacement to the Supreme Court sent a clear message to the GOP rank and file: We are not going to be seriously considering an Obama nominee.

However, some Republicans are hinting they may be mildly more willing to entertain the idea. Or at least are seeking to put a public gloss on their opposition that is less obviously obstructionist than McConnell's was.

So far, no one has broken with McConnell in a substantial way, but some of the GOP statements in the wake of Scalia's death have been more politic, careful and cautious than the leader's initial proclamation.

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The lag time was vanishingly short.

In a statement from the Supreme Court posted to the New York Times website at 5:56 p.m. ET Saturday evening, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed what the world by then had gathered from news reports. The conservative firebrand and progressive nemesis Antonin Scalia was dead.

Less than an hour later, at 6:26 p.m. ET, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stunned the political world with a statement declaring President Obama should not fulfill his constitutional duty and appoint a replacement to the highest court in the land.

"The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," McConnell said in a statement. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

McConnell's statement had been preceded a short time earlier by similar sentiment from the Republican presidential contender, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who had commented on Twitter that "Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement."

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The entire current legal strategy of the conservative legal movement has been stymied by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. His unexpected passing robs conservatives of the 5-4 advantage they had on the Supreme Court at the very moment they were making arguably their most aggressive play yet to cement some their most cherished and longest sought legal gains, in areas like abortion, voting rights, and affirmative action.

While much of the immediate focus after Scalia's death over the weekend was on the long game of who replaces him, and when, the impact is far more immediate and potentially historic. Even if a Republican president ultimately names Scalia's successor, the conservative legal movement will have suffered a dramatic setback by virtue of how many important cases it had queued up for this year that will be thrown into turmoil by a court with only eight justices and the potential for 4-4 tie votes.

With a number of high-stakes cases at or heading towards the Supreme Court, conservative legal advocates face a situation where they are unlikely to get the sweeping decisions they were hoping for, especially in the cases specifically designed to roll back progressive policies. Even any favorable outcomes in some of the test cases they lined up for the high court are now in jeopardy.

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Senate Republicans can claim some precedence for blocking any of President Obama’s nominees to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia until a new president is elected -- if they reach back to the mid-1800s.

The GOP’s insistence -- immediately upon news of Scalia's death -- that the Supreme Court must wait until the next president to gets its ninth seat refilled is not unprecedented, but is nonetheless very rare. In fact, all the unsuccessful Supreme Court nominees of the last century ran into problems because of their own traits, rather than some arbitrary obstruction aimed at the president.

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The GOP's presidential contenders had an opportunity at Saturday’s CBS debate to weigh in on what should happen next after the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The candidates for the most part urged the GOP Senate to block any appointees put forward by President Obama.

Donald Trump perhaps most explicitly acknowledged the partisan dynamics of the coming fight over a potential Supreme Court nomination, when asked if he would put forward a nomination if he was in Obama’s position.

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The Supreme Court’s decision to block President Obama’s climate change plan sent shockwaves through the legal community, environmental activists and even the industries that oppose these environmental regulations.

The order was surprising not just because it was a rebuke to a major priority of Obama’s administration. It also was at odds the Supreme Court’s usual practice in choosing when to halt a major regulation from moving forward. All four liberal justices expressed their disagreement with injunction.

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