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 two sides arguing a blockbuster Supreme Court abortion case will walk into the courtroom Wednesday knowing that the debate will have the potential to shape a woman’s access to the procedure for a generation or longer. But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia almost guarantees that conservatives will not be able to issue a majority opinion that would have given states nationwide the freedom to restrict abortion as they pleased -- as was the fear of abortion rights proponents when the court accepted the case.

In the case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, pro-choice forces are asking the court to strike down a Texas law mandating myriad restrictions that have a closed a large swath of its clinics can still score a victory by winning over Justice Anthony Kennedy to their side and stemming the tide of abortion restrictions passed in red states in recent years.

The lack of Scalia's ninth vote -- one that certainly would have favored the law’s defenders -- blunts the potential impact of even an outcome that would amount to a loss for abortion rights activists.

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The reasoning a Missouri lawmaker gave for introducing a bill that would permit legislators to practice law in the state was almost as confusing as the proposal itself. But the backstory of his true motives might be stranger still, if a hypothesis reported out by the Riverfront Times is right.

Riverfront Times' speculations about why Republican Rep. Robert Ross proposed the bill -- which was immediately mocked -- were inspired by a theory on a St. Louis reddit thread. His legislation would have allowed any legislator who served in the general assembly for two years to be qualified to practice law in Missouri and even eligible for serve as an associate or circuit court judge.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Monday he believed the GOP-controlled Senate should hold hearings on President Obama's eventual nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

"As I've always said, I believe that's absolutely the right thing to do," Christie said at a press conference when asked if Senate Republicans should hold hearings on President Obama's nominee to replace the last Justice Antonin Scalia.

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The Supreme Court has only been in session without Justice Antonin Scalia for a week. But already, his death is affecting cases, and particularly decisions not to take certain cases to the Supreme Court without the guarantee of his vote.

Last week, Dow Chemical made headlines by opting for a $835 million settlement in a class action lawsuit rather than risk having the case heard by a Scalia-less Supreme Court. A lower court had already ruled against the company for allegedly conspiring to fix prices for industrial chemicals, and prior to the settlement, Dow had appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for the first time in a decade, asked questions from the bench during oral arguments, according to reporters present at Monday's Supreme Court hearings. His questions pertained to the rights of domestic abuse offenders to have a gun, in a case considering a federal law banning convicted abusers from owning guns.

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Hillary Clinton is projected to score a big victory over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina Saturday, putting her on a two-state winning streak when she was able to capitalize on a diverse electorate.

Clinton’s appeal to black voters was key in the state. Six in 10 Democratic primary voters were African American, according to early exit polls, the Associated Press reported. Despite Sanders' efforts to make inroads in the African-American community, he was unable to truly tighten the race. Exit polls suggested that Clinton won eight in 10 of black voters, according to the AP. After her solid victory in the Latino-rich state of Nevada, Clinton’s success in South Carolina solidifies her argument that she has a support base that is more diverse than Sanders’ and thus a stronger candidate for the general election.

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Missouri state Rep. Robert Ross (R) has announced that he is withdrawing his bill that would have made legislators eligible to practice law in the state. In a statement announcing the withdrawal, Ross defended the legislation as something he introduced to make a point -- though that point wasn't entirely clear from the press release.

The bill, introduced earlier this week to much mockery, said anyone who served two years in the state assembly would qualify to "practice law as an attorney in the state of Missouri" and they would be deemed eligible to serve as Missouri associate or circuit court judges.

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Perhaps the panic in Washington that Donald Trump will become the GOP's 2016 nominee echoed all the way to Texas. Because at Thursday’s CNN/Telemundo debate in Houston, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz took a break from hitting each other to aim some shots at the Republican primary’s frontrunner.

Trump didn’t take these punches lying down. He steamrolled Rubio’s criticisms of his hiring practices by roaring back, "You've hired nobody." And he was quick to remind Cruz that none of his colleagues in the Senate GOP had endorsed him. Many of the night's tussles climaxed with Rubio and Cruz barking at Trump simultaneously, while Trump, in between them, effortlessly batted them both off.

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As it has multiple times on the campaign trail, Donald Trump's explanation of his stance on Planned Parenthood during Thursday's GOP debate suggested he doesn't understand how its federal funding works, and specifically the role of the Hyde Amendment.

"As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, I'm pro-life. I'm totally against abortion having to do with Planned Parenthood," Trump said, before praising the health care organization for the services it offers women.

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Marco Rubio attacked Donald Trump on a report that he hired foreign workers over Americans at Thursday's CNN debate, prompting Trump to bark back, "You've hired nobody."

With the candidates picking apart each other's stances on immigration, Rubio pivoted from a question about his involvement in the failed 2013 immigration overhaul bill to criticize Trump's hiring record as a businessman.

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