Catherine Thompson

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 catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who announced this week that he will not be running for reelection, told the Washington Times Thursday that he'll be making a trip to Israel in October.

"We will be going to Israel to bring together Arabs, Christian and Jews in an educational forum,” Perry said in an interview with The Times.

The publication pointed out that the trip foreshadows a potential 2016 presidential run, although Perry told The Times that he has "plenty of time to make that decision."

A federal appeals court on Thursday blocked Liberty University's suit against Obamacare, which argued that the healthcare law forced large employers to provide coverage to full-time workers and subsidize abortions, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Circuit Court Of Appeals in Richmond, Va. ruled Liberty's argument that the healthcare law violated the Constitution in requiring employers to offer health insurance coverage was invalid, according to Reuters. The court also said that the law allows employers to pick healthcare plan options that cover abortion procedures only in instances of rape, incest or to protect the mother's life that do not violate the free exercise of religion.

Liberty's case was originally dismissed by the appeals court in 2011. The Supreme Court upheld most of the healthcare law last year and told the appeals court to give the school's case another look because of the ruling.

Liberty University was founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell and is located in Lynchburg, Va. 

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the way for the state to enforce a disputed 1995 law requiring doctors to inform parents of girls age 17 and under that their daughter is undergoing an abortion, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

"We find that, while a minor clearly has an expectation of privacy in her medical information, which includes the fact of her pregnancy, the intrusion on the minor’s privacy occasioned by the Act is not unreasonable,” state supreme court Justice Anne Burke wrote in the majority opinion finding the law constitutional, as quoted by the Sun-Times. "The state has an interest in ensuring that a minor is sufficiently mature and well-informed to make the difficult decision whether to have an abortion."

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) on Thursday shrugged off White House claims that people challenging the legality of the Obamacare employer mandate delay were "willfully ignorant about past precedent," the Des Moines Register reported.

"I may be ignorant, but I'm not willfully so," Harkin laughed on a conference call with reporters, as quoted by the Register.

"I didn't agree with the administration on it, but it's not a dagger to the heart of the Affordable Care Act," Harkin said of the delay, adding that in his view the health insurance exchanges are more important than the employer mandate, according to the Register.

Representatives from 10 rural Colorado counties met this week to draw up plans for a 51st state they call "North Colorado," where they dream gun and oil laws will be more lax, Denver television station KCNC reported

The secessionist movement grew out of its organizers' frustration with state lawmakers passing restrictions on guns and the oil and gas industry, as well as raising renewable energy standards for rural co-ops, according to KCNC.

The counties would need the approval of voters, the Colorado General Assembly and U.S. Congress to secede and form "North Colorado," according to the television station. Should the secession plan fail, county commissioners could propose a ballot initiative that would alter the state Senate so that each of Colorado's 64 counties would have its own senator to represent its interests.

“We need to figure out (a) way to re-enfranchise the people who feel politically disenfranchised now and ignored,” Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway told KCNC.

[Image via spirit of america / Shutterstock]

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli tried to distance himself on Wednesday from Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who is being investigated by state and federal authorities amid reports that he accepted lavish gifts from a donor, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Cuccinelli, who is running to succeed McDonnell as governor in 2014, said in a written statement that the McDonnell scandal is "painful for Virginia" and "completely inconsistent with Virginia's very reserved traditions," according to the Times-Dispatch.

“Right now there are two investigations running, one of which began with my referral, and we need to let those play out,” the statement continued. “However, all of this emphasizes the need for clearer and faster disclosures that cover the whole family, as well as a cap on the size and types of gifts.”

Cuccinelli himself had initially failed to disclose a portion of gifts from the same donor embroiled in the McDonnell scandal, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr., as well as stock in Williams' company, according to the Times-Dispatch.

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), who announced a run for New York City comptroller this week, did not vote in last year's presidential election even after writing a column for Slate titled "Why I Am Voting For Barack Obama" days before the polls opened, the New York Post reported Thursday.

New York City Board of Elections records showed that Spitzer did not vote at his poll site on Nov. 6, 2012 or fill out an absentee ballot, according to the Post.

A Spitzer spokesperson told the newspaper that because the former governor co-anchored Current TV's election coverage in San Francisco, "there was not enough time for him to vote or get an absentee ballot."

Members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday accused the FBI of thwarting a congressional investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings, the Boston Globe reported.

The House Homeland Security Committee had requested information from the FBI on its 2011 security review of suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, according to the Globe.

"The FBI continues to refuse this committee’s appropriate requests for information and documents crucial to our investigation into what happened in Boston,” said committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), as quoted by the Globe. “I sincerely hope they do not intend to stonewall our inquiry into how this happened.”

The FBI turned down an invitation to appear before the committee Wednesday and had sent a letter dated July 3, reviewed by the Globe, stating that the agency would not be responding to all requests for information from the committee.

An FBI spokesman told the Globe that the agency was not "stonewalling" the inquiry, and did not send a witness to attend the committee hearing to avoid compromising the court proceedings that began Wednesday in the case against alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Lawyers involved in a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage said that state Attorney General Kathleen Kane will not defend the state in the case, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Kane is named as a defendant along with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in the suit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 10 couples and a widow. She is expected to announce her decision Thursday, according to the Post.

The Philadelphia Daily News first reported Kane's decision, and, as the Daily News notes, the case is believed to be the first federal case on same-sex marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Officials said Wednesday that the U.S. will still deliver four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt after the country's political shake-up, Reuters reported.

An anonymous defense official told Reuters that the jets would likely be delivered in August, while a second anonymous official said there is "no current change" in the plan to deliver the jets to the Egyptian military.

The White House has not labelled the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi a "coup," and said Monday that immediately cutting off assistance to Egypt would not be in the U.S.'s "best interest."