Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Matt Lauer confronted Paula Deen about her allegedly racist recorded comments Wednesday, days after Deen skipped out on an originally scheduled "Today Show" interview and was dropped from lucrative contracts, including the Food Network.
Lauer was blunt about the repercussions the comments and surrounding media firestorm had on Deen's business empire and pressed her to take a critical eye to her own brand.
"Given the same circumstances, would you have fired you?" Lauer asked.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Wednesday he was "frustrated" with the results of an epic special legislative session after he declared at about 3 a.m. that the state's hotly contested abortion bill could not be passed.
Dewhurst said an "unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics" defeated the legislation he said was intended to protect women and babies, according to the Texas Tribune.
Protesters in the gallery erupted in cheers along with Senate Democrats when the clock struck midnight without a final vote having taken place, preventing Republican senators from completing the voting process within the constitutionally prescribed time and effectively defeating the bill.
President Barack Obama congratulated Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) late Tuesday night on the congressman's victory over Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez for the open Massachusetts Senate seat.
"Ed has distinguished himself as a leader on many of the key challenges of our time—from fighting carbon pollution to protecting our children from gun violence to creating good, middle-class jobs," Obama said in a statement. "He’s earned a reputation as an effective, creative legislator, willing to partner with colleagues across the aisle to make progress on the issues that matter most. The people of Massachusetts can be proud that they have another strong leader fighting for them in the Senate, and people across the country will benefit from Ed’s talent and integrity."
Obama also thanked Secretary of State John Kerry, the former senator Markey will be replacing for the remainder of his term, for his service in both the Senate and the State Department.
A Minnesota state representative used a racially charged epithet in a tweet he later deleted Tuesday to refer to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
"VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas," State Rep. Ryan Winkler (D) tweeted in response to the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act.
After receiving a firestorm of negative responses to the tweet, Winkler deleted that message and apologized in further tweets, claiming that he "did not understand 'Uncle Tom' as a racist term" and that "there seems to be some debate about it."
"I intended to point out the fact that Justice Thomas had turned his back on African-American civil rights," Winkler told the Star Tribune in an interview. "I did not intend it as a racially derogatory term and I probably reacted too hastily in using a word that is very loaded. He said that he thought of the term as simply one that meant turncoat. I guess my judgment is way off."
Follow Rep. Winkler's responses to his original deleted tweet below:
I didn't think it was offensive to suggest that Justice Thomas should be even more concerned about racial discrimination than colleagues.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) praised the Supreme Court's ruling on the Voting Rights Act Tuesday, claiming that a provision struck from the legislation had "imposed an extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty."
“For nearly 50 years, Sections 4 and 5 have imposed an extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty in certain states, including South Carolina," Wilson said in a statement posted on the attorney general's website. "Over time, great strides have been made and Sections 4 and 5 have become obsolete.
“Today’s decision means the voting rights of all citizens will continue to be protected under the Voting Rights Act without requiring a different formula for states wishing to implement reasonable election reforms, such as voter ID laws similar to South Carolina’s," he continued. "This is a victory for all voters as all states can now act equally without some having to ask for permission or being required to jump through the extraordinary hoops demanded by federal bureaucracy.”
Wilson isn't the first South Carolina GOP politician to defend the Supreme Court's decision: earlier in the day Rep. Jeff Duncan (R) called the ruling a "win for fairness" and a win for the state of South Carolina.
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) called on the Supreme Court on Tuesday to remember America's history by "walking in the shoes" of those who gave their lives in pursuit of voting rights, which the court took a swipe at earlier that morning when it struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
"My message to the members of the United States Supreme Court is: remember, don't forget, our recent history," Lewis said in an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "Walk in our shoes […] come and walk in the shoes of those three young men that died in Mississippi. Come and walk in the shoes of those of us who walked across that bridge on 'Bloody Sunday,' March 7, 1965."
Mitchell asked Lewis if the congressman thought when the Voting Rights Act was signed into law that a court could someday strike it down. Lewis said he wouldn't have believed it -- and vowed to carry on the fight for voting rights despite the court's ruling.
"I didn't think that on that day when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act that I would live to see five members of the United States Supreme Court undoing what President Johnson did with those pens," Lewis said. "I have one of the pens that he used to sign that law at my home in Atlanta. And when I get home, I will pick up that pen."
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) said Tuesday that the Supreme Court's decision to strike Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act "put a dagger in the heart" of the landmark legislation.
“What the Supreme Court did was to put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Lewis told ABC News. “This act helped liberate not just a people but a nation.”
“We don’t want to go back," he added. "I’m shocked, dismayed, disappointed. I take it very personally. I gave a little blood on that bridge for the right to vote, for the right to participate in a Democratic process.”
Lewis, who participated in nearly every major civil rights event of the 1960's, including the "Bloody Sunday" march on Selma, Ala., has been a longtime vocal supporter of the Voting Rights Act.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that he'd rather not intervene in the case of Edward Snowden, who is wanted in the U.S. on charges of espionage for leaking National Security Agency secrets, and likened navigating the diplomacy of the situation to "shearing a pig."
"I'd prefer not to deal with this issue at all—it's like shearing a pig—too much squeaking, too little wool," Putin said during a news conference in Turku, Finland, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
Putin announced Snowden was free to transit out of Russia, adding "the sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it will be for us and for him."
The Constitutional Accountability Center on Tuesday condemned the Supreme Court's striking of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which the think tank said prevents Congress from exercising its rightful power to stop the practice of racial discrimination in voting.
"Today is a sad day for all Americans who care about protection of one our most fundamental rights, the right to vote," said David Gans, the center's civil rights director, in a press release. "In striking down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act, the Court flouts the text and history of the Fifteenth Amendment, which expressly give to Congress broad powers to prevent and deter all forms of racial discrimination in voting.
"As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained in a powerful dissent," he continued. "Congress properly used these broad constitutional powers to prevent current and ongoing racial discrimination in voting concentrated in the covered jurisdictions.
"Justice Ginsburg further explained that Congress was not required to update the coverage formula, because the Voting Rights Act's 15,000-page record in 2006 shows that pre-clearance continues to cover the jurisdictions with the worst record of voting discrimination."
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said Monday that sex-ed programs in schools aren't necessary because "mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody," according to Right Wing Watch.
Gohmert digressed from a discussion with radio program WallBuilders Live on "indoctrination" of students in the American education system to comment on public schools' sex-ed programs -- then digressed even further to say those programs remind him of the Soviet Union.