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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

The Supreme Court has rejected an emergency appeal from the Justice Department and civil rights groups who were trying to prevent the Texas voter ID law from being enforced in the November election. As you'll recall, a district judge found the law to be unconstitutional last week because it intentionally discriminated against minority voters. But the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and now the Supreme Court have blocked that ruling from going into effect while appeals are pending. That clears the way for Texas to enforce the law in the upcoming election.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. From Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent: "The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters."

You might have seen Norm Ornstein's piece yesterday in The Atlantic about the concerted effort on the right to swing state judicial elections nationwide. Here's one particularly telling example: $200,000 from a national GOP group dropped into a small county judicial race. There are only three judges in the county, and only one is a Democrat. Why would Republicans be focused on one Democratic judge? The county is where the state capital is located and that court hears a lot of key state government cases. The big mystery is who exactly ponied up the money that eventually made its way into this race. Dylan Scott reports.

Add another chapter to the annals of Florida politics.

The gubernatorial debate tonight between current Gov. Rick Scott (R) and former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, descended into the surreal when Scott refused to come on stage so long as Crist was allowed to use a small fan to keep cool during the debate. I almost feel the need to repeat that sentence again to make sure it sticks. A small electric fan at Crist's feet behind his podium derailed the start to the televised debate. The fan was, in the view of Scott and his team, a violation of the agreed-upon debate rules.

After the moderators stumbled through the first few minutes, lamely trying to adjudicate the rules dispute, Scott emerged from the wings and the debate got underway.

Here's the video:

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In practical terms, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has stepped in and reinstated the Texas voter ID law. In legal terms the appeals court issued a stay of the lower court order that threw out the law last week. The rationale for the appeals court decision? We're too close to the election to disrupt the status quo.

Justice Anthony Kennedy has for the moment halted gay marriages in Idaho.

Meanwhile, some confusion over what exactly has happened in South Carolina. A state judge has apparently begun accepting applications for same sex-marriage licenses in defiance of that state's ban, but contrary to some reports has not actually issued any licenses yet. The clerk in South Carolina tells TPM there is a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for all marriage licenses. The presumption is licenses will issue once the 24 hours expires, unless further legal maneuvering puts a halt to it.

For a variety of pretty good reasons, we've never really known the extent of the threat Barack Obama has faced as the nation's first black president. But one of the silver linings to the Secret Service scandal of recent days may be that some of the people in a position to know are providing more details than we've previously had about how serious that threat has been and how it's changed over time.

From Juliet Eilperin's piece today in the Post, this stands out:

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Some great original reporting from Dylan Scott on the deep distrust between the prosecutor in the Ferguson case and the family of Michael Brown that threatens the credibility of the entire probe.

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