TPM News

Taking up progressive complaints that the Supreme Court has become dangerously politicized, Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) are introducing legislation that could require justices to recuse themselves in certain cases.

"The problem is the only person who can decide whether Justice Thomas can recuse himself is Justice Thomas," Murphy told reporters at a press conference outside the Capitol. "That's wrong and that needs to change."

The bill would allow the Judicial Conference, which determines standards of recusal for federal judges, to examine Supreme Court members as well and create guidelines for determining a conflict of interest. They could even force members to step down from certain cases if they determined a procedure for such a move. The bill would also require members to offer an explanation if they decide to recuse themselves voluntarily as to why they declined to judge a case.

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You know whose first days as chairman of the House Oversight Committee didn't involve having to fire a high-profile staffer? Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who ran the committee from 2007 through 2009.

I caught up with Waxman in the Speaker's Lobby during a House vote on short-term spending Tuesday afternoon and asked him to weigh in on his heir Darrell Issa, who's had tougher luck.

"He's not gotten off to a good start," Waxman said, "and he's got to figure out how to make corrections in his own operation."

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Wisconsin Democratic state Sen. John Erpenbach, still out of state in Illinois, has a clear message for Governor Scott Walker: Don't blame public workers for a broken budget.

Interviewed by CNN's Brook Baldwin via phone on Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Erpenbach said he continues to be unhappy with Walker's tactics. "He's deficit spending right now, and as a result of us calling him on that, something he promised during the campaign he'd never do, he's going to lay off people. It's a ridiculous game he's playing and a very dangerous game he's playing."

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A week after the Obama administration announced it believed part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional and said it would no longer defend the law in court, former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin is out with a statement that slams (surprise!) President Barack Obama for the decision.

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Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are optimistic about results of anti-government movements in the Middle East and called Iran and al Qaeda the "biggest losers" in the ongoing fallout.

"Iran is the real loser here whether they want to admit it or not," Mullen told reporters during a briefing Tuesday at the Pentagon. "They had no hand in the change ... except the one they used to slap back their own people."

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By a vote of 335-91 -- including a majority of Democrats -- the House voted Tuesday afternoon to slash $4 billion in federal spending between March 4 and March 18.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate should adopt this package word for word within 48 hours, which will prevent a government shutdown.

The real shutdown fight begins now, as House and Senate leaders put their heads together over a longer-term spending bill, to keep the government running through September.

The battle over collective bargaining being fought in Wisconsin is far from over, but even as it rages a new fight is gathering steam in Ohio. For more than a week now, union supporters have gathered around the State Capitol in Columbus to protest Gov. John Kasich's (R) plan to limit collective bargaining rights for more than 300,000 state workers.

On Tuesday, protests reached their largest and loudest yet, according to reports from the ground.

As in Wisconsin, Ohio's new Republican governor isn't backing down. And just as protestors remain in the streets of Madison, so too are they in Ohio.

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In the debate over whether Wisconsin state workers should have the right to collectively bargain for better benefits, there is at least one group that sides with Gov. Scott Walker -- people wealthy enough that they probably don't need collective bargaining rights themselves.

That finding comes from a Pew poll released this week showing more Americans siding with the unions over Gov. Walker in the budget showdown that has deadlocked the Wisconsin legislature and sent thousands of protesters streaming into the state capitol. And strikingly, while Americans overall took the unions' side in the poll, the highest income demographic was the only one in which more people said they stood with Walker over the unions.

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Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) says he isn't a birther. But that apparently won't stop him from expressing skepticism about where President Obama grew up.

The potential 2012 presidential contender is continued his current promotional tour for his new book A Simple Government on "The Steve Malzberg Show" last Monday night. And while he didn't agree with radio-host Malzberg saying Obama spent ""millions of dollars in courts all over this country to defend against having to present a birth certificate," Huckabee added his own twist on questioning the President's past.

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