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Advocate tells lawmakers of ‘stealth’ efforts to influence Supreme Court

Robert Schenck

Evangelical minister Robert L. Schenck recruited wealthy Christian couples to serve as “stealth missionaries” at the Supreme Court for about two decades, forging friendships with conservative justices to “bolster” their views, particularly on abortion, Schenck told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

“Our overarching goals were to gain insight into the conservative justices’ thinking and to shore up their resolve to render solid, unapologetic opinions,” Schenck said, describing the mission of the influence campaign he dubbed “Operation Higher Court.”

In written testimony, Schenck, who in recent years has broken with the religious right over issues including abortion and gun rights, said he encouraged his recruits to use tactics like donations to the Supreme Court Historical Society to meet justices — and to parlay those encounters into deeper relationships to achieve their objectives. Some recruits wrote amicus briefs in cases before the court, his testimony says.

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Bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions clears Congress

Bill protecting ssame-sex and interracial marriage clears CongressThe House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of those unions that reflects a stark turnaround in societal attitudes.

President Joe Biden is expected to promptly sign the measure, which requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages. It is a relief for hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized those marriages and have worried about what would happen if the ruling were overturned.

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Jan. 6 panel to release report on Dec. 21, chairman says

Commission Chair Bennie Thompson

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol is planning to release its final report on Dec. 21, panel Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters on Wednesday.

Thompson said the release of the report will be accompanied by a “formal presentation,” but the details are still up in the air.

“There’ll be some form of public presentation, we haven’t decided exactly what that’ll be,” the chairman told reporters.

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Sen. Raphael Warnock defeats Herschel Walker to win reelection in Georgia Senate runoff race

Warnock wins Senate seat in GeorgiaDemocratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock has won the state’s runoff election, defeating Republican Herschel Walker in one of the most hard-fought campaigns of 2022, according to the Associated Press.

Warnock is the state’s first Black senator and senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Originally elected last year in a special election to replace retired GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, he has now been chosen to serve a full six-year term in the Senate. The Georgia residents in attendance for Warnock’s victory party Tuesday said they could not be more thrilled about the results.

"We're fighting for a democracy,” Erica Ferguson of Marietta, Ga., who attended the event with her college-aged son, told Yahoo News. “I have a son and I want to leave this world a better place for him and Rev. Warnock is the only answer."

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House January 6 committee has decided to make criminal referrals, chairman says

Jan 6 committee to make recommendations for criminal charges

The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol has decided to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, told reporters Tuesday.

Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said the committee has not narrowed down the universe of individuals who may be referred.

Asked whether Thompson believed any witnesses perjured themselves, he said, “that’s part of the discussion.”

When the panel makes referrals, Thompson said it will be a separate document from the panel’s final report that will be sent to DOJ.

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Jan. 6 panel meets to mull potential criminal referrals for Trump, others

Jan.6.Panel meets

The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is poised to meet Friday morning behind closed doors to take up a critical to-do list, including whether to issue potential criminal referrals for former President Trump and others.

A subcommittee is expected to present their recommendations to the full panel on next steps to consider for Trump and other targets of the more than yearlong probe.

"We'll just accept the report, and probably one day next week, make a decision one way or another," said Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the House Select Committee panel.

The subcommittee was formed in October and is comprised of the larger panel's four lawyers: Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Zoe Lofgren and Adam Schiff of California and Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

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Senate votes to avert costly rail strike

Senate votes to avert rail strikeThe Senate voted Thursday to avert a costly nationwide rail strike next week that lawmakers in both parties worried would shut down much of the economy and further add to inflation.

Senators voted 80 to 15 for a House-passed bill to implement the labor agreement between freight rail carriers and unionized workers brokered by the Biden administration.

But senators rejected a proposal to add seven days of paid sick leave to the agreement, which four rail unions demanded.

By intervening, Congress will avert the threat of a national rail shutdown that would have ravaged supply chains and brought significant portions of the economy to a halt in the middle of the holidays.

Roughly one-third of U.S. cargo is transported by rail and truckers would not be able to take on more capacity.

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