ThinkFast: June 29, 2010

Thurgood Marshall

At the first day of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings, Republicans “took the unusual approach of attacking Kagan because she admired the late justice Thurgood Marshall.” “Marshall’s judicial philosophy is not what I would consider to be mainstream,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Republican staffers even distributed opposition research to reporters on the late justice’s record. The Wonk Room’s Ian Millhiser notes Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-IL) defense of Marshall here.

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced that there will be no special election this year to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd. Instead, the seat will be up for re-election in 2012. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) said he will not appoint himself to the seat.

“Cities across the USA” are canceling Fourth of July fireworks displays this year because of continued budget issues. Jersey City, NJ, and Springfield, MO “are among the latest cities” that have nixed displays, which can cost several hundred thousand dollars. Even cities that use outside donations to fund the events have had a hard time raising enough.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said that he will vote against Congress’s financial regulatory reform bill, arguing that it doesn’t go far enough to prevent future catastrophes. “As I have indicated for some time now, my test for the financial regulatory reform bill is whether it will prevent another crisis,” he said. “The conference committee’s proposal fails that test and for that reason I will not vote to advance it.”

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) said yesterday that the “success of any reductions in the Pentagon budget” depends on reducing U.S. troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan. Levin told the reporters that if there is a “significant” drawdown of troops from Afghanistan next year that the Pentagon could have “major savings.”

A new report from the special inspector for Afghanistan reconstruction finds that the U.S. military “systematically overstated or failed to adequately measure the capabilities of Afghan security forces, whose performance is key” to the Obama administration’s war exit strategy. The report adds that the effort is plagued by a shortage of trainers and “a corrupt and inadequate Afghan logistics system.”

Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle “has steadfastly refused to talk to reporters” in the state. “I can’t remember a time that we’ve ever had trouble with interviews,” said Mary Beth Farrell, the news director at KRNV. KRNV finally got an interview with Angle “after weeks of private rejections” by taking the “unprecedented step” of publicly asking her “to explain her positions to Nevada voters.”

After China “threatened to revoke” Google’s internet provider license, Google Inc. agreed to stop redirecting Google.cn visitors to Hong Kong-based “Google.com.hk, where searches yield unfiltered results.” This move comes three months after Google Inc. claimed it was “hit with a cyber attack” from within China and began redirecting users to the uncensored site.

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the “Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to bear arms applies to state and local gun control laws.” The ruling is a “symbolic victory for supporters of gun rights,” but its “short-term practical effect is unclear.” Chicago’s mayor said the city’s handgun ban is now “unenforceable,” while the Brady Campaign said that lawmakers can still pass “common-sense gun laws.”

And finally: “Bowtie-wearing lawyers and spectators dotted the U.S. Supreme Court chamber” yesterday, “a nod to retiring justice John Paul Stevens and his signature neckwear.” On his last day as a member of the Court, he told his fellow justices, “If I have overstayed my welcome, it is because this is such a unique and wonderful job.”

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