- The Washington Times - Monday, July 19, 2010

SUPREME COURT

Kagan would weigh recusal case-by-case

Responding to a final GOP challenge, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan said Monday that she would weigh recusing herself from matters related to the new health care law on a case-by-case basis.

Ms. Kagan was responding to a list of questions from Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans about her involvement as solicitor general in defending the health law. The committee is to vote on her nomination Tuesday, and in all likelihood approve it, after the GOP minority delayed the vote for a week to get her answers.

Ms. Kagan, President Obama’s second Supreme Court nominee, was solicitor general while the health law was being passed and as states sued the federal government in March to challenge its constitutionality.

She told Republicans in written responses to 13 questions that she had no involvement in developing the government’s response to the lawsuit and never was asked her views or offered them.

She said she attended at least one meeting where the litigation was briefly mentioned, and that the Justice Department filed a number of documents in the case during her tenure, but that she had no firsthand knowledge of any of the filings.

Ms. Kagan reiterated what she said during her confirmation hearings: She intends to recuse herself in cases where she served as lead counsel or played a substantial role.

IOWA

Guilty plea entered in Obama loan case

DES MOINES | Another person accused of viewing President Obama’s student-loan records at a U.S. Department of Education contractor in Iowa has pleaded guilty.

Patrick Roan pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor. The Iowa City man is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 12.

He was one of nine people indicted on charges of accessing Mr. Obama’s student-loan records while they were employed at Vangent Inc. in Coralville.

A telephone message left for Mr. Roan’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned. Court records did not indicate what sentence Mr. Roan could receive. A telephone message left for a U.S. attorney spokesman wasn’t immediately returned.

Two others pleaded guilty last month. Trial for one woman is set for Aug. 24. Trial for the remaining five defendants is set for Sept. 7.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama salutes WNBA champion Mercury

President Obama is saluting the champions of women’s professional basketball and calling them role models for the nation’s girls.

Mr. Obama welcomed the Phoenix Mercury to the White House after their second WNBA championship. He thanked the players for setting a good example, saying he lives with “three tall, good-looking women who are quite competitive and push me around” at times.

Some of the players towered over Mr. Obama in their heels as he shook their hands and posed for pictures in the State Dining Room.

The president said he wants his daughters, Malia and Sasha, to know there is nothing contradictory about women being beautiful, healthy, athletic and competitive.

The players later conducted a workshop as part of first lady Michele Obama’s effort to make American children healthier.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama launches policy to protect oceans

The Obama administration is announcing a new national policy for strengthening the way the U.S. manages its oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes.

Officials say the framework is needed now more than ever following the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The policy calls for the creation of a new National Ocean Council that will coordinate the work of the myriad of federal agencies involved in conservation and marine planning. But it creates no new restrictions or regulations and is not expected to have any short-term impact on offshore oil drilling.

Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the new policy recognizes that use of the ocean is expanding at a rate that challenges the ability to manage competing demands.

SENATE

Lawmakers back libel help for U.S. writers

The Senate has unanimously passed a bill to protect American authors, journalists and publishers from foreign libel judgments that undermine the United States‘ guarantee of free speech.

The voice vote sent the bill to the House for final action.

U.S. federal courts would be prevented from recognizing or enforcing a foreign judgment for defamation that is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution.

Defendants in foreign cases could obtain a U.S. court order declaring that a foreign judgment would not be enforceable under American law.

Chief sponsor Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said the bill would prevent U.S. courts from becoming a tool to undermine the Constitution.

Mr. Leahy said the bill would protect writers and publishers in countries “with the most chilling and restrictive free-speech standards.”

MICHIGAN

5 states sue feds over Asian carp

TRAVERSE CITY | Five states are suing the federal government and Chicago’s water department in federal court, demanding stronger action to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and Pennsylvania filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in northern Illinois.

It seeks an order to close Chicago shipping locks and gates that could provide a pathway to Lake Michigan for the voracious fish.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused twice this year to order the locks closed.

State officials say the situation has become more urgent since a live Asian carp was found within a few miles of Lake Michigan last month.

The suit also asks for an expedited study of permanently separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

NATIONAL GUARD

Troops to head to border states

Federal officials say National Guard troops will begin heading for the southwest border Aug. 1 to help secure it.

The troops will train and be fully deployed by September and should be on the border for a year. They will be stationed in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

The 1,200 Guard troops are being deployed as drug-related violence continues in Mexico. Several people were killed over the weekend in Mexico in a car bombing and a separate massacre at a private party. Officials say the U.S. side of the border is more secure and has more resources than ever.

Guard troops will help Border Patrol keep a lookout for smugglers and illegal border crossings. They also will help in investigations and intelligence gathering.

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