Posts by Meredith Shiner

  • Bitter dissents in gay marriage case reveals deep divide in high court

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo 2 mths ago

    Justice Anthony Kennedy almost always votes alongside his four conservative colleagues on the Supreme Court. But when he doesn’t, it’s often in big, transformative cases, like Friday’s gay marriage decision. His defection clearly has made his conservative peers hopping mad.

    Each of the four conservative justices in the minority wrote his own dissent, a sign that their disappointment and anger at the decision striking down gay marriage bans could not be combined into one response. Separately, their writings bordered on the caustic, sometimes even making personal attacks on Kennedy’s jurisprudence and writing style.

    The opening seemed to enrage Justice Antonin Scalia, who went even further than usual in his criticism of Kennedy’s signature flowery language. He wrote in a footnote that he would “hide his head in a bag” if he ever signed onto an opinion containing this first sentence, which he said contained “the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.”

    Conservative judges also lambasted Kennedy for skipping some key legal details in his opinion, such as what level of scrutiny the high court used to examine gay couples’ claims.


  • Bernie Sanders wants to take back 'family values' from the GOP

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo 2 mths ago

    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders doesn’t like labels, perhaps because he’s so often asked to explain his particular brand of political thinking in a single word, but can’t.

    Sanders, elected as an independent, caucuses with Senate Democrats and calls himself a “Democratic socialist.” And now that he’s running for the White House, he’d like to keep busting categories and take back a key phrase from Republicans and redefine it for the 2016 election: “family values.”

    At a breakfast with reporters in Washington Thursday, Sanders previewed what he said will be a major theme of his campaign.

    “I will be talking about family values, but not the family values that my Republican colleagues talk about, which for them means that a woman cannot have the right to control her own body or that gay people should not have the right to get married or that women should not have access to contraception. That is what their concept of family values are about. That’s not my concept,” Sanders said at the breakfast, sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor Breakfast in downtown D.C.

  • An unconventional campaign launch for an unconventional candidate: Sanders 2016

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo 4 mths ago

     WASHINGTON — There were no “Bernie 2016!” placards, no cheering masses, no carefully curated Americana-themed campaign song selections here at the Capitol Thursday when Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. Instead, there was just a candidate, a few staffers, a dozen cameras, a few dozen more reporters and tourists at the Capitol who accidentally witnessed as they passed by what could be a seminal moment in the fledgling campaign season— the moment when the first challenger to presumptive favorite Hillary Clinton declared his intention to change the debate within the party. “We’re in this race to win,” Sanders replied firmly, when asked why he was running for the White House. But it was clear from Sanders’ other statements during his 10-minute press availability that his campaign is not just about winning, it’s about proving that a candidate like him can matter in what he views as a broken election system. With his announcement, Sanders seemed to create what amounts to a political litmus test for modern campaigning, fueled in part by his self-avowed socialist views of economic equality and in part by the...

  • Can Ted Cruz go from obstructionist in chief to commander in chief?

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 5 mths ago

    Sen. Ted Cruz announced his presidential bid with a tweet early Monday, and among the key questions he will face in a GOP field potentially stacked with sitting and former governors is what accomplishments he can point to from his brief tenure in the U.S. Senate — and whether he can run largely on his very active role in slowing the governing body to a legislative standstill.

    Since winning election in 2012, the junior senator from Texas has developed a reputation as a key foe of the president’s and has earned attention for what he has stopped the Senate from doing rather than for proactive legislating or novel policy proposals. To be sure, in today’s deadlocked Congress — where very few bills ever make it to the president’s desk for approval (or a veto) — Cruz is not alone in having a thin record of legislative accomplishment.

    Cruz also has been a cosponsor of two bills, one led by Democrat Barbara Boxer of California and another by Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri, that became law last year: the United States-Israel Partnership Act of 2014, which had 80 cosponsors, and the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2014, which had 22 cosponsors, respectively.

  • Yahoo News’ Capitol Hill Bracket Challenge

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 5 mths ago

    Politicians are overscheduled, overprogrammed and overreliant on talking points — unless they’re watching or debating sports.

    President Barack Obama famously and repeatedly has cited ESPN’s “SportsCenter” as the one show he watches daily. And it turns out that watching it is not a partisan habit.

    RELATED: Join the Best Bracket Pool on Yahoo Sports before it’s too late for shot at $50K

    In March, the Capitol makes special accommodations for lawmakers and their staffs to watch the NCAA basketball tournament. Senate and House committees order that the Capitol’s cable packages include channels airing the games. The televisions in the private, members-only cloakrooms are commandeered so members can watch basketball between votes.

    Sports are one of the rare activities that make politicians people, too. In a day and age when friendships are dwindling in inverse proportion to the number of flights politicians take out of town, you can pick out some of the people who actually like each other by their sports-related ribbing.

    Also on Yahoo:

  • John Cornyn: Obama ‘does not speak for the U.S. government exclusively’

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 5 mths ago

    In a wide-ranging, 30-minute interview with Yahoo News in his Capitol office overlooking the Supreme Court, Cornyn said the president is “in denial” over Congress’s role in foreign policy, remarking that Obama is attempting “to give Congress ‘the Heisman’ in terms of our involvement,” referring to the college football trophy depicting a running back strong-arming a defender. On Monday night, Vice President Joe Biden described the letter signed by 47 Senate Republicans as “beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.”

    Below is Yahoo News’s interview with Cornyn, lightly edited for clarity and brevity, on these issues and more.

    On Iran

    Even with precedents under international law supporting a potential agreement?  

    He shouldn’t have started down the path of...?


    But there are also other countries involved. This isn’t a bilateral agreement between the United States and Iran. The United Kingdom is involved, China, France, Germany, Russia.

    So you don’t think this sends a negative message to our allies, who are also negotiating on this?

    On Selma and the Voting Rights Act


  • Netanyahu leaps into the fray

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 5 mths ago

    Standing in front of two Republicans because the White House did not send Vice President Joe Biden, as is typical for joint sessions of Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lamented to lawmakers that his speech was being construed as partisan.

    “I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political,” Netanyahu told a joint session of Congress Tuesday.

    Regrets aside, Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress was indeed political, both in America and internationally. Approximately 40 congressional Democrats, including the most tenured Senate Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine of Virginia, opted to skip the speech, which was scheduled in coordination with Speaker John Boehner’s office, without input from the Obama administration and just two weeks ahead of Israeli elections.


    “The unfortunate way that House leaders have unilaterally arranged this, and then heavily politicized it, has demolished the potential constructive value of this Joint Meeting,” Leahy said in a statement explaining his absence from the speech.

    Related video:

  • Despite fiery CPAC speech, is Ted Cruz changing course?

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 6 mths ago

    Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas used a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday to rail against the party establishment, calling himself a “disruptive app” such as Uber that would upend the political system. Delighting the assembled conservative shock troops, Cruz castigated the Republican leadership for selling out its principles by separating a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security from a measure that would roll back President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

    “Unfortunately, Republican leadership is cutting a deal with Harry Reid and the Democrats to give in on executive amnesty,” Cruz told the applauding CPAC crowd of the looming votes to fund the agency, which will shut down Saturday if there is no action from Congress.

    And although the apparent shift didn’t seem to register with the hundreds of tea party supporters who gushed over Cruz at CPAC on Thursday, it could be significant for newly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who needs to keep his caucus together to prove Republicans can govern.

    he was ready to meet Cruz at Tortilla Coast at noon for lunch to repeat the whole show.

  • A Homeland Security shutdown by the numbers

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 6 mths ago

    With time running out, congressional Republicans continue to squabble among themselves over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before the sprawling, multimission agency runs out of money Friday.

    The Republican leadership — still feeling burned from a 2013 shutdown of the entire federal government — is spinning its wheels to come up with a solution that satisfies conservatives seeking to halt President Obama’s executive orders on immigration. The GOP leadership is caught between their traditional “strong on national security” reputation and their base’s desire to block the president on immigration reform at any cost.

    As Congress inches closer to its deadline, the Obama administration has outlined the numerous effects of a potential DHS shutdown, trying to reassure Americans that their safety will not be compromised while still highlighting the damage that would be done in the event of a stoppage of payment, especially to the nearly 200,000 DHS workers who would be required to work without pay until Congress decided on how to restore funding.



  • Breaking down the Obama budget

    Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News 6 mths ago

    President Barack Obama’s $4 trillion budget, like every president’s, is a purely symbolic wish list of policy items the administration would pursue in an ideal political world, one in which his party controls everything and faces no ideological opposition. But it also serves as a key mission statement that allows him to frame the political debate for the next year and leading up to the 2016 election, when his party hopes to maintain control of the White House without him. This year, Obama is using the annual Washington ritual to tout his crusade on behalf of what he calls “middle class economics.” For Republicans, the president’s budget represents the year’s juiciest target.  

    Yahoo News breaks down the most important provisions in the budget, and how the parties reacted to those measures.

    And if you read the president’s 2016 budget carefully, you can discern a strong economic argument for why Congress still needs to pass immigration reform: because it would reduce the deficit by an estimated $160 billion over 10 years and $1 trillion over two decades.