Inside Politics: Scalia critics say Justice too political last term

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Justice Antonin Scalia drew unusually critical attention during this past Supreme Court term for comments he made in court and in his writing that seemed to some more political than judicial.

His dissent in the Arizona immigration case contained a harsh assessment of the Obama administration’s immigration policy and prompted a public rebuke from a fellow Republican-appointed judge.

The 76-year-old Justice Scalia is a gifted writer with a razor wit and willingness to do battle with those on the other side of an issue. Those qualities have made him a powerful voice, an entertaining presence and a magnet for criticism on the court for more than 25 years. Even with that vivid background, some of Justice Scalia’s recent remarks stood out in the eyes of court observers.

Measured by wins and losses, the court term did not end well for Justice Scalia. He was on the losing end of the court’s biggest cases involving health care, immigration, lying about military medals and prison sentences, both for crack cocaine offenders and juvenile killers.

GEORGIA

Race to the Top funds threatened by changes

ATLANTA — Georgia could lose $33 million of its $400 million Race to the Top school grant because of proposed changes to a new evaluation system for principals and teachers.

The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal saying the funds dedicated to the program are “at high risk.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the agency has asked the state to address its concerns by Aug. 1 and suggested monthly status reports on its progress.

Hawaii is the only other state to receive such a warning of the dozen that were awarded Race to the Top grants. Federal officials expressed concerns that the state is proposing changes before it finds out how well the proposed new evaluations worked. They were tried in 26 districts between January and May.

State officials are looking at scrapping evaluations of teachers by their kindergarten to second-grade students, arguing that ratings by children so young would likely be positive and not reliable. They also want surveys by older students to be informational and to not count as 10 percent of a teacher’s formal evaluation.

MICHIGAN

Snyder, GOP lawmakers team up for 603 laws

LANSING — From taxes to motorcycle helmets, Gov. Rick Snyder and his lieutenant governor have signed 603 laws since taking office in 2011, a pace not seen in years.

The 2010 election ended divided government in Michigan and put Republicans in control of the Legislature, the governor’s office and the state Supreme Court. While Mr. Snyder has vetoed some bills, most proposals that win consensus from the GOP sail to his desk and into law.

Besides approving annual state budgets, Republicans have changed Michigan’s tax structure, made motorcycle helmets voluntary and passed laws that haven’t been friendly to unions.

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