Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Denniston on CSPAN.On Monday, the first day of the final week that two landmark Supreme Court decisions will be announced, all eyes will be focused on veteran Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston. Not only is the 81-year-old a bastion of legal knowledge, but he's also a speed demon, and is often the first to report the outcome of cases live on SCOTUSblog, a legal website. Last Thursday, reporters anxiously awaiting news about the high profile health care and Arizona immigration court cases began expressing their admiration for his lightening-fast tempo. "I...would love to see #teamlyle trend," Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein wrote on Twitter. New Yorker courtwatcher and CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin joined in: "me too!"

    But Denniston, who has covered the Supreme Court for 54 years for various newspapers and now for SCOTUSblog, was charmingly unaware of his fan club in an interview with Yahoo News last week:

    Yahoo News: Did you know that a group of reporters was trying to get your name to trend on

    Read More »from Lyle Denniston, icon of Supreme Court press corps, on health care case and being older than the justices
  • Can George Zimmerman get a fair trial in Sanford?

    The case of Florida neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman and the unarmed teen he claims he shot in self-defense has dominated 24-hour cable news shows, drawn a public statement from President Barack Obama, and sparked protests around the country. Given this (now somewhat cooling) media frenzy, will it be possible for Zimmerman's legal team to seat 12 Sanford-area jurors who have not already formed their opinion about the case?

    Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara seems to think not. After his client was charged in April, O'Mara said in a press conference that he doesn't think Zimmerman can get a fair trial, but hoped that the judge might throw out the case before that point. "The emotions are just running high in all of central Florida," he said. "But we'll see as we get closer to the point that we're resolving it, we don't even know if we're going to have a trial."

    Since then, Zimmerman's bail has been revoked after a judge said his wife lied about their financial situation, which may damage Zimmerman's credibility. Earlier this week, O'Mara released tapes showing Zimmerman explaining to police how and why he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February while patrolling the neighborhood. Zimmerman says Martin attacked him and he fired in self defense, but the prosecution says Zimmerman followed Martin and then attacked him. O'Mara will soon ask a judge to dismiss the case entirely under Florida's "stand your ground" law, which says people can shoot in self defense in public places if they have a reasonable belief their lives are in danger.

    [Slideshow: The case against George Zimmerman]

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  • Obama widens lead among swing-state Latinos

    Immigration advocates hold a news conference in support of Obama's decision to stay deportations. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

    President Barack Obama has widened his considerable lead over Mitt Romney among registered Latino voters in five key swing states, according to a new poll of 2,000 voters by Latino Decisions and the pro-immigration reform advocacy group America's Voice.

    Obama enjoys the biggest lead among Latino voters in Arizona, 74 percent of whom say they favor the president over Romney. On average, Obama is leading Romney 63 to 27 percent among Latinos in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia. Analysts estimate that Romney would need at least 40 percent of the Latino vote overall to win the general election, although that estimate changes depending on turnout.

    One factor behind the incumbent's significant lead may be an increase in enthusiasm for Obama following his announcement last week that he would offer immunity from deportation to as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children. Fifty-eight percent of Latino voters surveyed between June 17

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  • Romney says he will ‘replace and supersede’ Obama’s immigration plan

    Romney in Michigan. (Evan Vucci/AP)

    Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama's immigration plan on Thursday, saying that as president, he would "put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president's temporary measure." While that plan is still vague, it does not involve a path to legalization for any of the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants except for people who enlist in the military, according to a release from the campaign.

    "As president, I won't settle for a stopgap measure," he said during his speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla. "I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution. I will prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner."

    In his speech, Romney said that he would make it easier for legal immigrants to bring their spouses and children to

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  • Obama immigration plan—enough to energize disaffected Latino voters?

    Young immigrants rally outside the White House on Friday. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

    President Barack Obama's decision to grant temporary legal status to as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants was met with praise from Hispanic advocacy and civil rights organizations on Friday. The new rule "gives Latinos an added reason not only to support the president but to actually turn out and vote," said Brent Wilkes, the national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Obama's campaign must be hoping that this move will encourage Latinos—who have the lowest voter registration numbers of any major ethnic group in the United States, despite their growing demographic—to register and show up at the voting booth.

    [Related: Six things to know about U.S. immigration]

    The president enjoys a big lead over Mitt Romney among Latinos, but he faces two hurdles in translating that sentiment into electoral turnout. One, registered voters must be enthusiastic enough to actually show up on Election Day, especially in swing states, and two, new Latino voters—people who just became citizens or citizens who recently turned 18—must be registered to vote.

    The challenges of the latter are particularly apparent in the battleground state of Florida, where a whopping 638,000 Latinos are eligible to vote but are unregistered, according to a recent report by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. That's several times the number of votes by which Obama beat John McCain in the state four years ago. It could be enough to sway the presidential election—but only if you can convince Latinos to register.

    Nelly Medina, a 62-year-old Miami resident who canvasses new voters as a volunteer for the National Council of La Raza, says that hasn't been easy.

    "The people don't want to vote," she says in Spanish. "There's a lot of apathy. The two candidates that there are, they don't like either of them … [politicians] don't come through on their promises."

    Read More »from Obama immigration plan—enough to energize disaffected Latino voters?
  • Obama explains new immigration plan, while heckled by reporter in Rose Garden

    President Barack Obama talks during his meeting with Philippines President Benigno Aquino, Friday, June 8, 2012, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    In a speech this afternoon in the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama explained his administration's decision to allow as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants to apply for temporary legal status and work permits.

    Neil Munro, a reporter from the Daily Caller, interrupted the president twice, asking him to defend his statement that the move is the "right thing" for the country. Obama talked over the reporter but later in the speech addressed him, again asserting that the immigration decision is the right one. Munroe again interrupted Obama. "I didn't ask for an argument," the president said sharply, ending the unusual exchange.

    Obama went on with his speech. "They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one--on paper," he said of the young illegal immigrants who will be affected by his plan. The sweeping proposal allows immigrants without criminal records who are under 30 years old, entered the country as children, have graduated from a U.S. high school and can prove they've lived in the country for five consecutive years to apply for temporary legal status and then two-year, renewable work permits. It does not provide them a path to citizenship. In his speech, Obama stressed that the move is "not amnesty," and he thinks Congress should still pass a broader legalization bill.

    The change could have big political implications. President Obama has faced criticism from the crucial Hispanic electorate for ramping up deportations under his tenure and for failing to deliver on his campaign promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Advocates and advisers worried that even though Obama enjoyed a big lead over Romney among Latino voters, a lack of enthusiasm could keep many of them home in key swing states like Nevada, Colorado, and Florida on Election Day. But his announcement is likely to generate interest among many Latinos: 87 percent of registered Latino voters said in a Latino Decisions poll that they support legalizing young immigrants.

    Read More »from Obama explains new immigration plan, while heckled by reporter in Rose Garden
  • White House to halt deportation of young illegal immigrants

    Students protesting outside an Obama campaign office. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

    The White House will halt the deportation of as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants and in some cases give them work permits, in a sweeping new initiative announced by the Department of Homeland Security. The process will begin sometime in the next 60 days.

    People under 30 who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas when they were under the age of 16 will be immune from deportation if they have not committed a significant misdemeanor or felony and have graduated from a U.S. high school or joined the military. They can apply for a renewable two-year work permit that won't provide a path to citizenship. Applicants will have to prove they've lived in the country for five consecutive years.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters on Friday that she believed the move "is the right thing to do" and will help the agency focus on deporting criminals. "It is not immunity, it is not amnesty," she said. "It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not in the removal system."

    Young people will have to proactively apply and pay for the temporary legal status at a local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office. If the deferred status is granted, they can apply for a work permit.

    "I wouldn't say we are encouraging people to step forward," an Obama administration official told reporters. "We are making a process available and people can make their own decision."

    President Barack Obama was to address the change in a speech Friday afternoon.

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  • Student loan borrowers flood government website with complaints

    Graduates of Emory's School of Theology in May 2011. (David Goldman/AP)

    Thousands of student loan borrowers wrote occasionally heartbreaking complaints about dealing with their debt burden to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is soliciting comments from people who have taken out private student loans to finance their education.

    "My own children will not be able to get the help they need to go to college because I will STILL be shackled to my debt," one woman wrote.

    [Related: Wiping out $90K in college debt in 7 months]

    "I want to work hard, marry my girlfriend, buy a house, and start a family. I am barely treading water right now," a young lawyer said of his $130,000 loan burden.

    The consumer protection group asked the public for responses to help the Department of Education conduct a study on the private student loan market, and it published nearly 2,000 comments and complaints on its website. The group also released a student loan complaint system, where borrowers can report their grievances.

    [Related: How cities can keep young

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  • Justice Department drops remaining charges against John Edwards

    Edwards after a deadlocked jury declined to convict him on five of six charges. (Chuck Burton/AP)

    The Justice Department announced Wednesday it will give up its criminal case against former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

    In May, a deadlocked North Carolina federal jury found Edwards not guilty of one charge of accepting illegal campaign donations. The group couldn't reach a decision on five other felony charges, including one alleging that Edwards knowingly used $1 million in secret campaign donations from wealthy donors to support his mistress. Edwards could have faced 30 years in prison if convicted.

    Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement that the Justice Department put forward its best case. "The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment, however, and we respect their judgment. In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts."

    The prosecution was short on proof that Edwards knew about the payments or that he knew that accepting them was illegal. "As noted

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  • Evangelical radio ad urges Christians to support immigration reform

    Richard Land testifying in front of Congress in 2010. (Alex Brandon/AP)As Yahoo News first reported on Monday, a coalition of evangelical leaders is funding ads on Christian radio in the battleground states of Florida and Colorado that urge listeners to support comprehensive immigration reform.

    "Christians should be known by their love," Southern Baptist leader Richard Land says in the ad, which you can listen to below. "As evangelical leaders, we are called by Christ to be people of compassion toward everyone. This is why we must speak out on behalf of all those affected by our broken immigration laws."

    Though Land, Liberty University Law School Dean Matthew Staver and other conservative evangelical leaders have been pushing for immigration reform for several years, a new voice in the movement is that of Jim Daly, leader of the Colorado-based radio ministry Focus on the Family. Daly's radio broadcast reaches millions of listeners, and he signaled when he took over the organization from founder James Dobson two years ago that he wanted to broaden the

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