TPM News

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) wants to hear from Solicitor General Elena Kagan on health care.

One issue in Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Barrasso said on Fox News this morning, "is this whole health care bill that has just come out. There's a mandate that everybody in the country has to buy a product. That's a 10th Amendment issue. Twenty states right now are suing the federal government."

She is going to have to make a decision, if she is on the court, about how that goes forward with these 20 states suing.

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Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that an FBI surveillance team watching Faisal Shahzad last week lost contact with the Times Square bomb suspect for "about an hour.

"We lost contact with him for just a bit of time," Holder said, adding that, "we had a layered approach so at the end of the day, I think, we were always confident that he would be picked up. And the question was only where would he be picked up and when would he be picked up."

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After months as the underdog, Gov. Charlie Crist is back out front in the Florida Senate race, according to public polling. Since Crist dropped out of the GOP primary to run as an independent, polls have shown him leading the three-way contest with likely Republican nominee Marco Rubio and likely Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek.

In the latest poll of the race, conducted late last week by Mason-Dixon, Crist leads the race with 38% of the vote. Rubio is running second with 32% and Meek is a distant third with 19%.

The TPM Poll Average of the race shows a similar result. Crist is polling at 37.9% in the average, with Rubio drawing 32.0% and Meek trailing with 17.6%

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"Lucien," the young male escort hired by George Rekers to carry his luggage and give him erotic massages on a trip to Europe, spoke on Anderson Cooper 360 Friday night.

Lucien says that, although the massages were sexual, the two did not have sex. He also said that Rekers -- a leader of the ex-gay movement who has testified in favor of banning gay couples from adopting children -- maintains that he is not gay.


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WaPo: Obama Sees Legal Gravitas In Kagan To Counter Roberts The Washington Post reports: "Why is President Obama choosing his solicitor general, Elena Kagan, as his second nominee to the U.S Supreme Court? By all accounts, Obama wants someone who can serve as a counterweight to the intellectual heft of Chief Justice John Roberts. Regardless of how strong a liberal Kagan would prove to be, as a former dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan practically defines legal gravitas."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will announce the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court at 10 a.m. ET. He will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10:45 a.m. ET. He will meet at 12:05 p.m. ET with the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, and will meet at 1 p.m. ET with senior advisers. He will hold a meeting at 2:30 p.m. ET, to review BP efforts to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. He will meet at 4 p.m. ET with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and will meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

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Two pollsters now show Rep. Joe Sestak leading Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary. Over the weekend, a tracking poll of the race released by Muhlenberg College, which has shown Sestak surging in the last weeks before the May 18 primary, finally showed Sestak overtaking Specter and leading the race by a margin of 45-42.

Today, a new Rasmussen poll taken on Friday showed those numbers are no fluke -- that poll shows Sestak ahead by a margin of 47-42.

The current TPM Poll Average for the race still shows Specter ahead, but by a significantly reduced margin of 45-39.

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Expect this one to come up in Pennsylvania's brutal primary campaign this month -- Sen. Arlen Specter, then a Republican, opposed Elena Kagan's confirmation for the solicitor general position in March 2009. He joined 30 other Republicans while all the Democrats voted in favor of her nomination.

Soon after that vote Specter switched parties to give the Democrats a 60th vote in the Senate. He's been hammered by his Democratic challenger Rep. Joe Sestak as a political opportunist who only left the Republican party because he couldn't win a primary from the right. The primary is May 18 and the two are neck-and-neck, with Sestak even taking the lead in a recent poll.

Seven Republicans supported Kagan for solicitor general. They are: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). We have no idea how Specter views Kagan as a potential Supreme Court justice. At the time, he said she had given "inadequate answers" during her confirmation hearings.

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President Obama Monday will officially nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, his second selection for the high court. Multiple news outlets and the Associated Press are reporting that Kagan, 50, is Obama's choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

She has never tried a case in court but was considered an early favorite for the job, causing intense speculation Friday as the White House defended her record and some publications said it was highly likely she'd be his pick. Kagan served as a clerk in the late 1980s for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and was a clerk for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. She worked at a private Washington law firm before taking a job in the Clinton administration.

Kagan is the first woman to hold the solicitor general post and until she took that position she was dean of Harvard Law School, also the first female to hold that job. Under her six-year tenure Kagan helped the law campus open new buildings and she updated the curriculum. She also was recognized for fundraising prowess. But Kagan banned military recruiters from campus, a sure lightning rod issue the GOP will focus on during her confirmation hearings.

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Appearing on the Sunday shows for the first time today, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama Administration wants to change the Miranda rule -- the requirement that police inform suspects of their right to remain silent and to a lawyer before interrogation -- in terrorism cases to "something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face."

Holder said on Meet The Press that the Administration wants to work with Congress to make the public safety exception to Miranda -- in which information from questioning before reading the Miranda warning can be admitted in court, in certain situations in which public safety is a concern -- "more flexible."

As TPMmuckraker reported Friday, experts believe the Administration is already pioneering a robust use of the public safety exception to Miranda. In the case of Faisal Shahzad, the man who allegedly tried to set off a crude bomb in Times Square, FBI agents reportedly questioned him for three or four hours before reading him his rights. Much more on the back story here.

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