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Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has cleared the way for most of a restrictive Texas abortion law -- that among other things requires clinics to meet hospital-like standards and providers to attain special credentials with local hospitals -- to go into effect.

"In plain terms, H.B. 2 and its provisions may be applied throughout

Texas," the appeals court panel said, with the exception of one clinic in McAllen, Texas, where certain provisions had previously been blocked by the Supreme Court. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, all but seven of the clinics in the state stand risk of closing.

The suit, brought by Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of independent providers in the state, was the second federal challenge to Texas' omnibus abortion law, which passed in a special session in 2013 after then-Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered lawmakers' initial attempts to advance it. The law mandates that clinics meet the standards required of ambulatory surgical centers, requires that providers attain special credentials known as "admitting privileges" at local hospitals, bans abortions after 20 weeks and puts restrictions on the use of medication abortion (also known as the abortion pill).

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Republican state lawmakers in Louisiana and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist are in a war of words over the state's terrible budget options, with Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), a 2016 White House contender, stuck in the middle.

The state faces an enormous $1.6 billion budget shortfall, a reality Jindal blames on falling oil revenues. However, he is one of a number of GOP governors, many of them considering presidential runs, who have found themselves with budget crises due to their unwillingness to raise tax revenue. Jindal's anti-tax orthodoxy has limited legislators' options for balancing the state's budget and means the state is facing the prospect of drastic cuts in key areas like higher education.

For months now legislators have accused Jindal of kowtowing to Norquist's "no tax pledge," which stipulates that taxes cannot be raised unless they’re offset by spending cuts elsewhere. And this weekend they'd had enough. A group of self-described "conservative" Republican state representatives took their complaints to Norquist himself, asking him to give them some wiggle room on raising taxes and to shoot down some Jindal-backed legislation that they say would set a "dangerous precedent" in how government could mask revenue hikes.

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North Carolina state lawmakers are not letting their governor’s veto of a "religious freedom" bill stop them from trying to push through the controversial proposal, which would let local authorities opt out of officiating same-sex marriages. The North Carolina House will be back in session Monday evening to potentially vote on Senate Bill 2, which Republican Governor Pat McCrory previously vetoed out of constitutional concerns. Last week, the state's Republican-led Senate -- by a 32 to 16 vote -- did its part to override his veto, which requires a three-fifths majority in both chambers.

Like similar legislation in Indiana and Arkansas, the proposal is drawing the condemnation of civil rights groups and the business community for appearing to undermine same-sex marriage, which became legal in the state last fall and could be expanded nationwide pending an upcoming Supreme Court ruling.

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In a closely-watched case that threatened to embroil the Supreme Court in the thorny politics of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, the justices sided with the White House in its policy to resist suggesting Israel has sovereignty over Jerusalem. Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion called unconstitutional a 2002 statute that allowed citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as his or her birth country, contra to State Department policy in order to remain neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

"Congress cannot command the President to contradict an earlier recognition determination in the issuance of passports,” Kennedy wrote.

The vote was 6-3, with Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito dissenting in full and Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting in part.

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George Soros, long a supporter of progressive causes, has been financing some of the major legal challenges to state voting restrictions, the New York Times reported Friday. The Hungarian-born billionaire is planning to spend $5 million to fight back at voter suppression efforts, his political adviser Michael Vachon said.

"Clearly, fighting the Republican efforts to limit who can vote and when they can vote will benefit Democrats, and it will benefit whomever runs for president," Vachon told the Times. "But it also primarily benefits democracy with a small 'd.'"

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While some Republican lawmakers are attempting to hammer out a contingency plan in the case that an upcoming Supreme Court ruling invalidates federal health insurance subsidies for millions of Americans, other House GOPers are showing resistance to such a solution. Their reasoning? Since the constituents in their districts mostly don't receive the subsidies, they don't need to support keeping the subsidies alive for others.

Noting that only 1.9 percent of the people he represents are receiving the federal subsidies, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) told the Washington Examiner, "I can vote with the 98.1 percent — I usually win the election that way."

According to the Examiner report, some Republicans feel that they would receive more blowback if they appeared to give a lifeline to President Obama's controversial healthcare law than if the subsidies were allowed to lapse.

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Receiving an award in honor of the late Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX), a champion of voting rights, Hillary Clinton gave an impassioned speech on the topic Thursday, ripping into Republicans for passing laws that restrict citizens’ ability to vote while proposing her own ideas for broadening the franchise.

“What is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other,” Clinton said, blaming the Supreme Court for "eviscerating" a part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

In addition to calling on Congress to restore the provision of the Voting Rights Act nixed by the Supreme Court, Clinton also proposed automatic voting registration for every citizen when he or she turns 18, as well as at least 20 days of early voting nationwide.

The speech won the praise of civil rights activists.

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While Republicans continue to take a hard line on immigration, a large majority of Americans say that immigrants already in the United States illegally should be allowed to stay, according to a Pew survey released Thursday. Seventy-two percent of Americans believe undocumented immigrants should be allowed to either apply for citizenship or permanent residency, while only 27 percent would like to see those immigrants deported.

While it's not surprising that 80 percent of Democrats support a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, they are joined by 76 percent of Independents and 56 percent of Republicans, according to the Pew survey. Pew polled 2,002 adults between May 12-18. The poll has a margin of error of 2.5 percent.

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Some of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives are now suggesting they would entertain the idea of temporarily extending federal Obamacare subsidies if the Supreme Court invalidates them.

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), above, told the Hill that he and other members of the House's Freedom Caucus debated the Senate GOP plan to extend the federal subsidies into 2017, when, they hope, there would be a Republican president in the White House to repeal Obamacare.

“I think that I could only support it if it had a definite expiration at the end of 2016, or maybe in the first half of 2017,” Fleming said.

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Hillary Clinton will dive headlong into the voting rights wars with a speech Thursday at historically black Texas Southern University in Houston. In a preview of the speech, the Washington Post is reporting that Clinton will call for new laws guaranteeing at least 20 days of early voting nationwide. The move comes as Team Hillary shows other signs that it intends to make voting rights a priority of her campaign.

“This is, I think, a moment when we should be expanding the franchise,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta told the Post. “What we see in state after state is this effort by conservatives to restrict the right to vote.

The choice of a historically black college as the venue for the speech is symbolic, as is Texas, which is the target of the Justice Department's big Voting Rights Act case since the Roberts' Supreme Court gutted the landmark civil rights law in 2013. At issue is the state's 2011 voter ID law which the Justice Department alleges disenfranchises minorities and other Democratic-leaning constituencies.

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