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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President Obama issued a statement praising Harper Lee, who died at the age of 89 Thursday, in which he said the reclusive author "changed America for the better."

The statement began with a quote from "To Kill A Mockingbird," her classic novel about racial injustice in the South. ("To Kill A Mockingbird" was also her only published novel until the controversial release of "Go Set a Watchman" last year.)

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President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama met privately with the family of the late Justice Antonin Scalia Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said via a White House pool report.

"This afternoon, while at the Supreme Court, the President and First Lady had the opportunity to meet privately with some members of Justice Scalia’s family," Earnest said. "The President and Mrs. Obama extended their personal condolences on behalf of the nation, and expressed gratitude for Justice Scalia’s decades of public service."

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Suggestions by college Republicans in Nevada that they planned to participate in both the GOP caucus next week and in Saturday's Democratic caucus to presumably undercut Hillary Clinton in her race against Bernie Sanders prompted a fiery blowback from prominent Dems.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who hails from the state, issued a statement calling the alleged plans "shameful and immoral."

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Moderate GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), one of the few Republicans initially willing to break ranks on whether President Obama's nominee to succeed Antonin Scalia should be considered, reversed course Thursday evening. In a series of Tweets she said "the American people will be weighing in on the direction of SCOTUS" in the upcoming election and that Obama should "allow his successor to select the next Supreme Court justice."

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Senate GOP leadership's insistence that it will not consider a Supreme Court nominee until the next president takes office is "very different" than her vote against President George W. Bush's Supreme Court nominees when she was in the Senate.

"I did oppose Justice Alito and as you say Chief Justice Roberts," Clinton said, adding that after "after meeting with them, listening to them," she did not think their approach "would be the best for the country."

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Asked how he would address Islamophobia as president, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at Thursday's MSNBC town hall pivoted from criticism of Donald Trump's general rhetoric on Muslims to the "obstructionism and hatred" faced by President Obama and "the idea of making him a delegitimate president."

"People can agree with Barack Obama, you can disagree with Barack Obama," Sanders said. "Anybody who doesn't understand that the kind of obstructionism and hatred thrown at this man, the idea of making him a delegitimate president by suggesting he was not born in America because his dad came from Kenya."

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Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (PA) defended his support of the position that Senate should wait for a new president to confirm a Supreme Court nominee by arguing that "it's not that big a deal" to have a vacant seat on the court until 2017. Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are suggesting they will not consider President Obama's nominee to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly over the weekend, regardless of who it is.

Toomey told the AP that holding a confirmation hearing "might mislead the American people into thinking that this is just about the qualifications of the candidate, because it's bigger than that."

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Civil rights groups challenging Alabama's 2011 photo voter ID law -- which received additional scrutiny after the state closed dozens of its DMV offices last year -- suffered a setback when a federal judge Wednesday refused to block a provision of the law ahead of March's primary election.

The Alabama NAACP and other groups, as part of a larger suit challenging the law, had asked the federal court for an emergency injunction to block the the law on the basis of its "positively identify" provision. That portion of the law provides that if a potential voter doesn't have the proper photo ID, two poll officials can personally confirm their identity in an affidavit. The challengers argued that the provision harkened back to Jim Crow-era voucher tests. They were seeking a ruling that those without the photo ID to be allowed to answer questions confirming their identity or use the IDs accepted before the 2011 law instead.

In his order filed, U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler -- a President George W. Bush-appointee -- suggested the request was "a backdoor method of invalidating" the law.

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