• A bipartisan group of lawmakers next week will honor Frederick Douglass, the early civil rights leader, orator and writer who escaped slavery in 1838, with a statue in the U.S. Capitol.

    A gift of the District of Columbia, the statue will be placed in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitors Center on Wednesday, June 19.

    "It's a fitting tribute to one of the greatest Americans and voices for freedom who ever lived," House Speaker John Boehner said.

    For those not in the capital area, the statue unveiling will be streamed live online.

  • Free Syrian Army fighters sit at an entrance of a tunnel as they wait for a fellow fighter in Deir al-Zor June 12, 2013. (Khalil Ashaw/Reuters)Syria’s bloody civil war has left at least 92,901 people dead, the U.N. Human Rights Office said Thursday in a new report sure to give ammunition to lawmakers urging President Barack Obama to escalate the U.S. role there.

    “Unfortunately, as the study indicates, this is most likely a minimum casualty figure. The true number of those killed is potentially much higher,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.

    So far, Obama has directed humanitarian aid to rebels looking to topple President Bashar Assad, but has rebuffed bipartisan calls from Congress to send arms to moderate segments of an opposition that also includes al-Qaida-affiliated fighters. The issue is certain to arise at the upcoming Group of Eight Summit in Northern Ireland, where the president will come face to face with world leaders like French President François Hollande who have urged a more aggressive international role.

    In the statement from its home base in Geneva, the U.N. Human Rights

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  • The Supreme Court in October 2010 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    Eight months after attorneys for Abigail Fisher argued in front of the Supreme Court that the University of Texas' affirmative action admissions policy discriminates against white students, the justices still have not handed down their decision in the potentially paradigm-shifting case.

    The unusual delay has many court-watchers stumped, though as with everything Supreme Court-related, all explanations for the wait are, at best, educated guesswork.

    Lyle Denniston, who has covered the Supreme Court for more than 50 years and now works for the legal website SCOTUSblog, said he couldn't remember another case that had been argued in the fall yet still undecided by mid-June.

    "I have absolutely no idea what is holding it up," Denniston said.

    One reason why the delay is so surprising: During oral arguments in October, it seemed fairly clear that the four conservative justices would band together with swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy in striking down the use of race as a factor in undergraduate admissions. Kennedy has voted against affirmative action policies in the past and showed no willingness during questioning to reconsider his past position.

    Additionally, the four liberal-leaning justices are short Elena Kagan, who had to recuse herself in this case due to her work on it while a part of the Obama administration. That seemed to clear the way for an easy 5-3 decision in favor of Fisher.

    "It's really surprising that it's taken this long for the court to issue an opinion," said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA School of Law. "It's almost unheard of for the court to take the entire term to decide what really is a straightforward case."

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