- - Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Justice Sonia Sotomayor this week gave no hint of what the Supreme Court is going to do on the question of whether President Obama’s signature health care overhaul law is constitutional.

Justice Sotomayor was the featured speaker Monday night at a lecture hosted by the University of the District of Columbia.

The court recently heard arguments on the health care law and is expected to make a decision before the end of June. But Justice Sotomayor made no comment on the widely followed case.

The justice used most of her conversation with Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, to explain how the Supreme Court works and how she decided to become a lawyer and a prosecutor.

Justice Sotomayor also said she is a fan of Jeremy Lin, whose NBA career with the New York Knicks has spawned “Linsanity.” The justice, a New York native, said “New York loves him” but decried some of the racist comments the Asian-American basketball player has faced as “ugly.”

“It’s a sad statement that people still say those words,” said Justice Sotomayor, who is Hispanic.

JUSTICE

Feds accuse Arizona’s sheriff of bad faith

PHOENIX — Federal authorities trying to settle civil rights allegations against America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff said Tuesday that the sheriff’s office has negotiated in bad faith and risks ending settlement talks.

The U.S. Justice Department told a lawyer for Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a letter Tuesday that the sheriff’s precondition of not having a court-appointed monitor to help enforce an agreement to settle the civil rights allegations would result in the cancellation of negotiations.

The Justice Department said Sheriff Arpaio’s lawyer sprung this precondition on federal authorities Tuesday, despite having previously agreed to a court monitor.

“We believe that you are wasting time and not negotiating in good faith,” wrote Roy Austin Jr., a deputy assistant attorney general, questioning whether the sheriff’s office was ever interested in settling the matter. “Your tactics have required DOJ to squander valuable time and resources.”

Sheriff Arpaio said agreeing to a court monitor would mean that every policy decision would have to be cleared through an observer and would nullify his authority as the elected sheriff.

“I absolutely refuse to surrender my responsibility to the federal government,” Sheriff Arpaio said in a written statement.

WHITE HOUSE

White House authorizes $26M for Sudan refugees

The United States says it is “gravely concerned” about the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and South Sudan and is sending up to $26 million to help refugees displaced by the African border conflict.

President Obama authorized the emergency relief Tuesday. It marks the first time the U.S. has sent such money to help Sudanese refugees, an estimated 140,000 of whom have fled bombing and desperate conditions in two Sudanese border states. The refugees have mostly fled into neighboring South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Their plight was the subject of a meeting between Mr. Obama and actor-activist George Clooney at the White house last month.

GOP

Cheney out of hospital after getting new heart

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was released from a Northern Virginia hospital Tuesday, 10 days after getting a new heart, his office said.

Mr. Cheney, 71, received the organ from an unknown donor March 24 at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church.

“As he leaves the hospital, the former vice president and his family want to again express their deep gratitude to the donor and the donor’s family for this remarkable gift,” said aide Kara Ahern.

Mr. Cheney waited nearly two years for the transplant. His lifelong history of heart disease includes five heart attacks, with the first one striking him at age 37 and the most recent one in 2010.

That year, Mr. Cheney also had surgery to implant a small pump to help keep his weakened and diseased heart beating. The “left ventricular assist device,” or LVAD, helps a person live a fairly normal life while awaiting a heart transplant, although some people receive it as permanent therapy. It was one of the few steps left, short of a transplant, to keep Mr. Cheney alive in the face of what he had acknowledged was “increasing congestive heart failure.”

In January 2011, Mr. Cheney said he was getting by on the battery-powered device and hadn’t made a decision on a transplant. But he said he would “have to make a decision at some point whether I want to go for a transplant.”

WHITE HOUSE

Obama: Daughters’ sports a source of anguish, joy

President Obama says his daughters’ efforts on the basketball court are a source of both anguish and great joy.

He told CBS announcer Clark Kellogg that, quote: “I bleed when those girls play. … Watching them play I just want them to do so well.”

In a taped interview shown at halftime of the NCAA men’s bakketball championship game Monday night, Mr. Obama admitted that he experiences the same extreme reactions that most parents can easily identify with.

The president said when something goes right, he gets more joy out of that than he ever got when he played.

Mr. Obama said his daughter, Sasha, is the one playing more lately and her team has been having some success. He helps a bit with the coaching but said he can’t take much credit.

From wire dispatches and staff reports