Monday, April 19, 2010


Bill Clinton: Look beyond judges

Bill Clinton says someone who hasn’t been a judge should be considered for the Supreme Court.

But scratch the idea of the ex-president or his wife as a justice.

Mr. Clinton suggested that President Obama follow a model that Mr. Clinton used when he tried unsuccessfully to persuade Mario Cuomo, the New York governor at the time, and George Mitchell, the Senate majority leader, to agree to be nominated to the high court.

Justice John Paul Stevens’ decision to retire hands Mr. Obama a second chance to shape the court.

Mr. Clinton, who has not been a judge, told ABC’s “This Week” that at 63, he’s too old to be considered, much as he might enjoy serving on the Supreme Court. He said his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, also might have been interested in past years, but not now.

The former president urged Mr. Obama to pick someone about 50 years old.

Among those reported to be under consideration, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49, has never been a judge.

Others who fit that description are Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, 52, Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, 51 and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, 53.


Airlines pledge free flights for carry-ons

Five major airlines have agreed not to follow Spirit Airlines in instituting fees for carry-on luggage, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said he was hopeful other carriers would follow suit.

Mr. Schumer said Sunday that he had received commitments from American, Delta, JetBlue, United and USAirways. He had reached out to the companies’ chief executives after Spirit Airlines recently announced that it would start charging up to $45 each way for passengers who bring a bag on board and put it in the overhead compartment.

“This is a giant step forward in our effort to make sure you can take a carry-on bag when you fly without being charged,” Mr. Schumer told the Associated Press.

Since 2008, fliers have had to deal with charges for everything from food to checked luggage. But the carry-on fee, Mr. Schumer said, “was a step over the line.”

Mr. Schumer and five other Democratic senators - Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey - are supporting legislation that would tax airlines if they charge carry-on fees.

Mr. Schumer said the legislation would move forward until it becomes clear that no airline will institute the charges.


Pawlenty courts Iowa fiscal conservatives

URBANDALE, Iowa | Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is calling for an economic bill of rights that he says will trim back government he thinks has spiraled out of control and grown too large.

The Republican made the comments at a stop Sunday in Iowa, the state that traditionally launches the presidential nominating season.

He says President Obama has breathed new energy into the conservative movement within his first year in office.

Mr. Pawlenty’s latest swing through the state took him before a “tax day” meeting of the group Iowans for Tax Relief, a large anti-tax group that’s a powerful force in the state’s Republican politics.

He pointed to his record in Minnesota and vowed to spread those efforts.


Judges hear appeal on wiretap law

NEW YORK | A civil rights lawyer asked a federal appeals court Friday to restore a lawsuit challenging a law that lets the United States eavesdrop on overseas conversations. A government attorney disagreed, saying a lower court got it right.

The verbal tug of war proceeded before a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will rule at a later date.

Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the judges that they should restore a lawsuit that claimed the latest version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act hindered the work of attorneys, journalists and human rights groups.

U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl last year threw out the challenge, saying Americans’ fears that their conversations will be monitored and their rights violated were “purely subjective.”

Justice Department lawyer Douglas Letter said Judge Koeltl got it right based on federal court rulings on similar issues in the past. He said the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the lawsuit since none of them could show they were subject to the surveillance.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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