- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 20, 2009


Obama taps two for appeals courts

President Obama on Friday said that he will nominate two new federal appeals court judges, tossing them into the mix even as the Senate struggles with a Supreme Court nomination.

Mr. Obama said he will nominate federal District Court Judge Beverly B. Martin to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and has tapped District Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court.

They are Mr. Obama’s fourth and fifth appeals court nominees.

None of the nominees has been confirmed yet, and Mr. Obama’s first appellate nominee, Judge David F. Hamilton, is facing opposition from Republicans who questioned some of his rulings concerning religious freedom and government powers. Judge Hamilton’s nomination passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote.


Gay couples can use married names

BOSTON | Gay couples traveling overseas can now show passports that feature their married names, letting them take advantage of a little-noticed revision to State Department regulations that critics had feared would undermine the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The notice of the change said that it does not mean the State Department is recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages and civil unions but that it was to comply with an amendment to the Code of Federal Regulations that took effect in February 2008.

The name-change revision took effect May 27 in an addition to the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual. It allows same-sex couples to obtain passports under the names recognized by their state through their marriages or civil unions.


Aide: Ex-mistress’ husband sought cash

LAS VEGAS | An aide to Sen. John Ensign said the husband of the Nevada senator’s former mistress demanded “cash and other financial benefits” through an attorney.

Ensign spokesman Tory Mazzola said the demands from a lawyer for Doug Hampton were made within the past month.

Mr. Mazzola made the assertion in a Friday statement to the Associated Press. He said the Republican senator’s attorney is handling the matter.

Mr. Ensign on Tuesday acknowledged having an affair with Cindy Hampton, a former campaign aide.


Embattled official to retire in July

The previous head of the federal thrift-supervision office is leaving the government amid criticism of the agency’s role in the run-up to the financial crisis.

Scott Polakoff, who was placed on leave in March from his position as the Treasury Department’s Office of Thrift Supervision, is retiring on July 3, the agency announced Friday.

Mr. Polakoff, who was the agency’s chief operating officer and senior deputy director, held the acting-director position only since February following the resignation of OTS Director John Reich. John Bowman is now acting director.

The Obama administration’s new plan for overhauling financial regulation calls for abolishing the OTS. It oversaw insurance conglomerate American International Group Inc., whose near-collapse last fall led to about $180 billion in federal aid.


Obama touts immigration reform

President Obama on Friday told a prayer breakfast for U.S. Hispanics he remains committed to an immigration reform bill but once again would not commit himself to a legislative deadline for action.

The nation’s first black president also told the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference that one day there would be a Hispanic president and lauded his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who if confirmed would be the first Hispanic on the high court.

Mr. Obama said the basic promise of the country is that “America will let you go as far as your dreams and your hard work will carry you.”

He also repeated his broad promise to sign an immigration reform bill, offering general principles that he wants to see but not specifying when he hopes to see a bill from Congress.

He said that the nation’s borders must be strengthened first but that he does support a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants living in the country as long as they pay penalties for breaking the law and learn English. He also decried worker exploitation and said he was “committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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