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Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)--chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee--is out with a statement criticizing the Supreme Court's opinion in Ricci v. DeStefano and warning conservatives not to wield it as a cudgel against Sonia Sotomayor. "It would be wrong to use today's decision to criticize Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who sat on the panel of the Second Circuit that heard this case but did not write its unanimous opinion," Leahy said.

Judge Sotomayor and the lower court panel did what judges are supposed to do, they followed precedent. It is notable that four justices would have upheld the Second Circuit's ruling, including the retiring Justice Souter, who Judge Sotomayor is nominated to replace. The dissent concludes: "This Court has repeatedly emphasized that [Title VII] 'should not be read to thwart' efforts at voluntary compliance.. . . The strong-basis-in-evidence standard, however, as barely described in general, and cavalierly applied in this case, makes voluntary compliance a hazardous venture."


You can read his entire statement below the fold.

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Within an hour of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Ricci case, the Federalist Society hosted a conference call for reporters with a number of conservative legal experts--speed readers presumably--each of whom hit upon a couple themes we're already seeing Sonia Sotomayor's opponents trumpet.

Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity suggested that the ruling "gives the Senate Judiciary Committee a lot to ask about" and that it brings to light her past statements on this issue.

He was joined by Gail Heriot, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law in the insistence that each of the nine Justices had rejected Sotomayor's reasoning in her Second Circuit decision, a frame the Judicial Confirmation Network is also using. This, of course, despite the fact that four of the justices think the second circuit decided the case correctly.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is bringing out some big names for the final days of the second fundraising quarter, with new fundraising e-mails signed by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright.

The Kerry e-mail, which was sent out today, alludes to the way Kerry was Swift-Boated in 2004. "I've seen first hand how the far right reacts when they see their failed policies challenged," says Kerry. "Rush Limbaugh calls for failure, and Republican House leaders back him up. When their attacks start flying, we need to hit them hard."

The Albright e-mail, which was sent out over the weekend, is a rare occurrence of a former Sec. of State taking a role in full-fledged partisan politics. "After eight years of Republican foreign policy mistakes, President Obama is attempting to restore America's international reputation and leadership," Albright says. "Not surprisingly, he is running into opposition from the same misguided politicians who led America into disaster under President George W. Bush."

Check out the full e-mails, after the jump.

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Conservative reactions to the Supreme Court's Ricci ruling are trickling in. Wendy Long, the leading face of the Sotomayor opposition, posted a press release on the web site for the Judicial Confirmation Network. The best part is the misspelling of Sonia Sotomayor's name (Long went for Sotomayer).



There's also this mystifying gem:

"Frank Ricci finally got his day in court, despite the judging of Sonia Sotomayor, which all nine Justices of U.S. Supreme Court have now confirmed was in error."

The ruling, of course, was 5-4. Oh, and this:

"What Judge Sotomayor did in Ricci was the equivalent of a pilot error resulting in a bad plane crash. And now the pilot is being offered to fly Air Force One." That's poetry, folks.

Check it out here, and let us know if Long fixes her spelling.

Late update: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a member of the Judiciary Committee, took a shot at Sotomayor without calling her by name. "The Second Circuit should have recognized the serious and unique issues this case raised and given it the thorough treatment it deserved," he said in a statement.

Here's the full statement:

"The Supreme Court today correctly held that race-based employment decisions must be justified by facts, not fear," said Hatch. "These firefighters, who worked long and hard for it, were denied the chance for promotion because of their race.

"In the twenty-first century, race discrimination requires more justification than the fear of being sued. The Second Circuit should have recognized the serious and unique issues this case raised and given it the thorough treatment it deserved."

Barring extraordinary developments, Bernie Madoff will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The Wall Street swindler has been sentenced to 150 years in prison for swindling investors out of many billions of dollars, reports the AP.

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Over the weekend, after the Waxman-Markey climate change bill passed the House by a predictably slim margin, President Obama sat down with some climate and energy reporters to discuss the state of play of energy reform.

Addressing the political risk some Democrats took by voting for the bill, Obama mocked the GOP for perpetuating a myth that should be familiar to readers of TPMDC. "So are there going to be nay-sayers?" Obama asked. "Absolutely."

Are there going to be short-term instances where you can get political gain by scaring the bejesus out of people and telling them that their electricity rates are going to go up a thousand percent and this is going to be a tax of $3,000 -- even though the studies that they cite the authors of say that these guys are just lying about these costs? Yes. Those political talking points will, in some cases, have some short-term impact.

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In a 5-4 decision--in which Anthony Kennedy was once again the swing vote--the Supreme Court has rejected a decision by Sonia Sotomayor and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, finding that the city of New Haven's promotion policy for firefighters, amounted to discrimination against whites. The city had tossed out a promotions test on which black firefighters performed poorly, prompting a number of white firefighters to sue.

The ruling can be found here (PDF). This move could reignite the fight over Sotomayor, who Obama nominated to the Supreme Court this spring. Conservatives have repeatedly cited the case--Ricci v. Destefano--as evidence that the New York judge would favor minorities in her decisions as an Associate Justice.

Already, the RNC has released a "Research Briefing" called "Reaching on Ricci" in which they allege that Sotomayor has now had seven of her decisions go before the High Court, and the Court has agreed with her reasoning only once."

To reach that ratio, though, they cite one case--Knight v. Commissioner--in which the lower court's ruling was upheld.

Conservative groups and Sotomayor supporters alike will be weighing in throughout the day. We'll let you know what they have to say.

A lot of talk is going around about Gov. Tim Pawlenty's (R-MN) statement on CNN yesterday that he would sign a certificate of election for Al Franken. But in fact, nothing new was said here -- he reaffirmed stuff he's said before, that he'll sign a certificate under the orders of the state Supreme Court, but if a federal court intervenes to stop him then he will follow that order, too:



"Well, a federal court could stay or put a limit on or stop the effect of the state court ruling. If they chose, if they do that, I would certainly follow their direction," said Pawlenty. "But if that doesn't happen promptly or drags out for any period of time, then we need to move ahead with signing this, particularly if I'm ordered to do that by the state court."

The big question here is whether Pawlenty is playing a wink-wink, nudge-nudge of subtly encouraging such a federal challenge, or if he's simply saying that he'll follow court orders while also laying out the potential permutations that can happen. His tone in this particular interview maybe seemed a bit more in favor of the second option than last time. But there's only one way to find out what will actually happen.

Obama Opposes Trade Penalties In Climate Bill President Obama has come out against a provision of the climate-change bill that passed the House on Friday, which would impose tariffs on other countries that don't accept limits on pollution. "At a time when the economy worldwide is still deep in recession and we've seen a significant drop in global trade," Obama told reporters, "I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet one-on-one with President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, at 2:15 p.m. ET, with an expanded meeting at 2:45 p.m. ET. At 4:25 p.m. ET, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host a reception for LGBT Pride Month. At 7:15 p.m. ET, Obama will attend a reception for National Finance Committee members.

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Axelrod: Obama Won't Rule Out Middle-Class Tax Hike Appearing on This Week, Senior White House David Axelrod did not rule out the idea of President Obama raising taxes on people making under $250,000 -- which Obama pledged not to do during the 2008 campaign -- in order to fund health care. "One of the problems we've had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don't get anything done," said Axelrod. "That's not the way the president approaches us. He is very cognizant of protecting people -- middle class people, hard-working people who are trying to get along in a very difficult economy. And he will continue to represent them in these talks."

McConnell: We Have Best Health Care System In The World Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attacked the Democrats' health care proposals. "Well, listening to them, you wouldn't recognize that America has the finest health care system in the world. We have some problems with access and with cost, which can -- addressed without wrecking the best health care system in the world," said McConnell. "What they really have in mind, Bret [Baier], is to create a government-run plan after which there won't be any private insurance companies."

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