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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It looks like Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) will be following through on at least one of his anti-Obamacare campaign promises. The Courier-Journal reported Monday that Bevin sent a letter dated Dec. 30 to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell informing the agency he will be dismantling the popular state exchange program Kynect and transitioning to the federal health care marketplace.

The transition will not affect Kentuckians using Kynect during this current open enrollment period that ends Jan. 31, The Courier-Journal said, and Bevin has made it a goal to complete the switch by the end of 2016.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) hit back at 2016 rival Hillary Clinton's recent attacks on his health care plan by reminding his Twitter followers that the head of her campaign had appeared to have endorsed his ideas in the past.

Sanders resurfaced a 2013 Tweet from John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman, in which Podesta said, "Just applied online for Medicare. Took 5 minutes. Single payer anyone?"

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) fanned the Ted Cruz-birther flames yet again, telling Fox News Monday that the Texas senator is a "natural-born Canadian" and that it's up to the courts to decide whether Cruz is eligible for president.

"Cruz is a natural-born Canadian," Paul said, according to CNN. "He was naturally born there. The question is, can you be natural-born Canadian and natural-born American at the same time? Maybe, but I think the courts will have to decide it, because it's never really been decided."

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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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