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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A morning of tough questioning Monday at the Supreme Court suggested public unions have an uphill battle in convincing the court not to overrule a 1977 decision that allows them to charge non-members "agency fees" -- fees that subsidize the collective bargaining that benefits all employees.

The swing justices whom union forces had hoped to bring to their side seemed skeptical, if not hostile, to their arguments. The best alternative liberals could put forward is that at the very least more fact-finding in the case is needed, considering what a major deal upending Supreme Court precedent is.

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You can learn a lot about the upcoming Supreme Court case that threatens to cripple public unions by looking at who is behind it.

Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association is being brought, in name, by Rebecca Friedrichs, a California elementary school teacher who objects to a state law requiring her and other public employees to pay a portion of union dues even though they are not union members.

But behind her in the case is a coalition of legal forces known for using the court to attack progressive laws. The case touches upon all sorts of conservative pet causes including wages, school voucher programs and health care benefits. Many of the players in this case have been involved in a broader pattern of pushing conservative causes through the judicial system when their efforts have failed in the political process.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is sick of watching the federal government trample all over states' rights, with things like U.S. laws and Supreme Court decisions. So the former state attorney general is pushing a constitutional convention to weigh what he has labeled the "Texas Plan," made up of nine constitutional amendments he says will "reign [sic] in the federal government and restore the balance of power between the States and the United States."

"That constitutional problem calls for a constitutional solution, just as it did at
our Nation’s founding," Abbot wrote in the 92 page proposal released Friday. He pointed to various plans offered by states that helped create the Constitution in the years after the Revolutionary War.

"Now it is Texas’s [sic] turn," Abbott wrote. "The Texas Plan is not so much a vision to alter the Constitution as it is a call to restore the rule of our current one."

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An anti-gay marriage bill filed in South Carolina last month compares the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision that declared marriage a constitutional right for same-sex couples to previous Supreme Court decisions that okayed forced sterilization and Japanese internment.

"[T]he United States Supreme Court is not infallible and has issued lawless decisions which are repulsive to the Constitution and natural law, including Buck v. Bell, Korematsu v. United States, Roe v. Wade, and, most recently, Obergefell v. Hodges," reads the legislation. It is sponsored by state Reps. William Chumley (R), James Burns (R), Richard Yow (R), and Lonnie Hosey (D).

Buck v. Bell was a 1927 Supreme Court decision upholding a Virginia law that permitted forced sterilization in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." In 1944's Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Court said the government's policy of interning Japanese-Americans was constitutional.

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in an interview with CNN Wednesday admitted his position on H1B immigration visas has changed, but denied that the shift was politically motivated.

"Any rational person responds to a change in circumstances. What's changed? We've seen a whole number of employers abusing the program," Cruz, a frontrunner in the 2016 race, told CNN. "No. 1, bringing in people who are not high-skilled, bringing in medium- and low-skilled (information technology) workers and then firing American workers and, adding insult to injury, forcing the American workers to train their foreign replacements."

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In many ways, the fight the Bundy brothers and their associates are picking with the federal government by occupying a wildlife refuge in Oregon is more or less a sequel to the showdown at their father Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch two years ago.

The bulk of their grievances revolve around what they believe is a federal overreach in the management of public lands. But the ideas they promote are not original to them. They appear to be hodgepodge of long-held theories of the hard right, particularly in the rural West, including the Sagebrush rebellion, the Wise Use agenda and the Posse Comitatus movement.

“They’re looking around and they’re borrowing and taking what sounds right to them,” Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM.

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The takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon by armed anti-government extremists Saturday was initially a step too far for some other hard-right patriot groups. But with the occupiers, led by Ammon Bundy, commanding national media attention for much of the week, their once-skeptical fellow travelers have started to come around.

It's a subtle shift, but in interviews this week some of the most strident extremist critics of the move on the refuge have conceded that the publicity the action has produced is helpful to their cause. And some of the critics have even gotten in on the action, claiming to act as back channels for communications among the armed occupiers, law enforcement, and the local community.

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A Tennessee judge who said the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage prevented him from divorcing a local couple has been reprimanded by a state judicial conduct board, the ABA Journal reported.

Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct issued a public reprimand of an order written by Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton last August that suggested that the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges meant the state judge no longer had the ability to grant a divorce to a local couple seeking it at the time.

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Update: The House passed the legislation to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood by a 240-181 vote Wednesday evening.

After half-a-decade worth of votes to repeal Obamacare, congressional Republicans will finally send a bill that guts the President's signature health care reform to the Oval Office, where President Obama is sure to veto it.

The House is set to vote Wednesday on an Obamacare repeal bill that will take apart some key aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual and employer mandates. The House passed a similar bill last year. But once it reached the Senate, Republicans expanded its parameters -- including amendments that unravel the Medicaid expansion and target the marketplace subsidies -- as conservatives said the initial legislation didn't go far enough. Having passed narrowly in the Senate, it is now back in the House, where it kicks off Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-WI) 2016 agenda "about ideas and not about distractions."

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Michael Schroeder -- the owner of some small papers in New England who was involved in the controversial purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal by the Adelson family -- printed an apology to the readers of The Bristol Press amid accusations that a story printed in his papers last month was plagiarized under a pseudonym. The apology appeared in Tuesday's print addition of the Bristol Press and later was posted to New York University Journalism Professor Jay Rosen's blog.

In it, Schroeder said that the "level of reporting in this story did not meet our standards" and that the story should have clarified his relationship to the "buyer of the Las Vegas Review Journal," who had connections to the story.

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