The Supreme Court has dealt privacy advocates a huge setback. By a 5-3 majority, the court ruled that people who sue the government for invading their privacy can only recover out-of-pocket damages. And whistle-blower lawyers say that leaves victims who suffer emotional trouble and smeared reputations with few if any options.
Justice Samuel Alito and all four of his conservative colleagues turned back a challenge from a pilot named Stan Cooper. (Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the case.)
What happens when impassioned demonstrators come this close to each other?
Opponents and defenders of the new national health care law found out this week, sometimes facing off outside the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices inside heard three days of oral arguments on the law's constitutionality.
NPR discussed the experience with demonstrators from both sides of the debate, who traveled from other states or nearby cities to bring their voices to the steps of the high court.
Despite the fact that Bank of America lost 58 percent of its value in 2011, its CEO received a compensation package worth $7.5 million. That's a six fold increase from the year before. The AP reports that under Brian Moynihan, Bank of America also lost its title as the No. 1 bank by assets to JPMorgan Chase.
Rep. Bobby Rush made news Wednesday when he raised a hoodie during a House floor speech on the Trayvon Martin tragedy.
The Chicago Democrat was told by Rep. Gregg Harper, the Mississippi Republican presiding over the chamber that he was in violation of the House's rules as Harper repeatedly banged his gavel to get Rush to signal that Rush had gone too far.
Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 4:26 pm
A special prosecutor who spent two years exploring Justice Department misconduct in the botched case against late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said "contest living" — the desire to win a big case — explained the failure to follow the rules in one of the biggest political corruption prosecutions in decades.
"[Lawyers] do not want to have to undermine our case if it can possibly be avoided," investigator Hank Schuelke told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. "That motive to win the case was the principal operative motive."
Listen to Wednesday Afternoon's Supreme Court arguments
The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard the last of three days of oral arguments on the fate of President Obama's health care law. A transcript of Wednesday afternoon's arguments, as prepared by the court, follows.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: We will continue argument this afternoon in case 11-400 Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services.
Mr. Clement. ORAL ARGUMENT OF PAUL D. CLEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONER MR. CLEMENT: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:
Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 4:43 pm
On the final morning of its three-day health care law extravaganza, the U.S. Supreme Court wrestled with the question of whether parts of the 2010 federal statute can survive if the justices strike down its central tenet: the individual insurance requirement.
In other words, if the nine justices find the insurance mandate unconstitutional when they rule by June, would that mean that the entire law also fails the constitutionality test?
There's a Republican presidential primary next Tuesday in Wisconsin. But as the accompanying photo taken by NPR political correspondent Don Gonyea in Delafield, Wisc. suggests, a lot of Wisconsinites have other political matters on their minds.
As Don writes in an e-mail:
"Note that the recall coming up on June is the big political story here. Not Tuesdays presidential primary."
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melisa Block.
The case is submitted. With those words from the chief justice, the three-day marathon at the Supreme Court ended. Today, the justices heard two sets of arguments over the federal health care law. There were sessions in the morning and afternoon with two separate questions to consider.
NPR's Ari Shapiro is with me in the studio to describe what happened. And, Ari, let's start with the morning arguments, a key question there hinging on yesterday's arguments.
And now to another provision in the health care law that's being challenged: the Medicaid expansion. Those arguments took place this afternoon. And NPR's Julie Rovner is here in the studio to talk about them. Julie, the key question before the court was whether the law goes too far. It requires states to expand their Medicaid programs. So why don't we back up and start with the basics, how Medicaid works and how the law changes that?
The last argument on the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court could have consequences far beyond health care.
The key issue is whether the health law's expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor unfairly compels the participation of states. Many considered this to be the weakest part of the states' challenge to the health law, and during Wednesday afternoon's arguments, that seemed to be the case.
The case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier charged with killing 17 Afghan villagers, has led the Army to review how troops are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they have invested heavily in the treatment of PTSD to deal with a growing caseload.
But the stigma associated with the disorder continues to complicate efforts to treat it. It has also fueled serious misconceptions about its effects — such as the notion that PTSD causes acts of extreme violence.
The AP says there was strong disagreement between liberal and conservative Supreme Court justices on the question of whether the expansion of Medicaid in the health care law passed in 2010 is constitutional. At issue is whether the federal government can demand that states expand their Medicaid program.
The court's liberal wing, reports the AP, made it clear they were OK with expansion of the program for low-income Americans.
Amnesty International says the Cuban government has increased its harassment of opposition activists.
According to the human rights organization, the government has detained more 150 opponents and in other situations has surrounded some of the activists' homes to prevent them from "denouncing abuses during Pope Benedict's tour."
Amnesty adds that some human rights organizations and prominent activists have had their phones cut off.
In the new biography Hitler, A.N. Wilson describes the Nazi dictator as the "Demon King of history" — who instigated the Holocaust and forced the world into a second world war — but also as an ordinary, even boring man.
"We like to distance ourselves from anything to do with him because he was an essentially evil character," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. "But actually, many of the ideas that he had and expressed were very ordinary ideas, and they were ideas that more or less everybody had at that time."
Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 1:37 pm
The peace plan backed by the United Nations got the support of Arab foreign ministers today.
The leaders, who were in Baghdad for an Arab League summit, endorsed the plan which calls for a cease fire, the release of political prisoners and dialogue with the opposition. The ministers said Syria should enact the plan.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard the last of three days of oral arguments on the fate of President Obama's health care law. A transcript of Wednesday morning's arguments, as prepared by the court, follows.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: We will continue argument this morning in Case Number 11-393, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and case 11-400, Florida v. The Department of HHS.
Mr. Clement. ORAL ARGUMENT OF PAUL D. CLEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONERS MR. CLEMENT: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:
Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 6:39 pm
The parents of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin have been in Washington, D.C., the past two days, meeting with Democratic lawmakers and pleading for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch volunteer who shot their son.
I talked today with the boy's father, Tracy Martin, 45, about the whirlwind of attention the case has drawn, the latest claims made about his son's role in the Feb. 26 incident in Sanford and his hopes for an arrest.
Though he insists he's not suspending his run, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich announced he's cutting his staff and shifting his campaign strategy. NPR's Ken Rudin and veteran campaign manager Chip Saltsman discuss the decisions candidates face when a win seems unlikely.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. For years, employers have used credit checks and criminal histories to vet potential hires. With the growth of social media, hiring managers now turn to websites like Facebook, and some employers go so far as to ask applicants to turn over their passwords.
Facebook warns against this procedure. Two United States senators asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether these employers are violating federal law.
With the fate of the health law's insurance mandate in doubt, the last day of arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court became even more crucial to the future of the Obama administration's central legislative achievement.