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Thursday, Apr 24th

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Supreme Court to rule on political campaigns’ pretty little lies

Supreme CourtIt turns out that there is a tenet in American politics that groups as diverse as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Obama administration, the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List and the Republican National Committee can agree on: Elections thrive on free speech, even if that speech contains obfuscations, mudslinging, half-truths and, occasionally, blatant lies.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, a case that turns on whether an Ohio law that prohibits “false statements” about candidates during a political campaign violates the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment.

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South Carolina Republicans Snub Desegregation Judge

Julius Waties WaringOf all the names of American heroes you probably don’t know, Julius Waties Waring has to rank near the top of the list. Waring was a judge in South Carolina in the mid-20th century. He’s famous to those who know for many courageous stands, but he’s probably best known for writing in one opinion that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” That was in 1951, three years before Brown v. Board of Education. In Charleston, South Carolina. Now that’s a set of stones, no?

Charleston these days is a gorgeous and ever more cosmopolitan city where, if you pick your spots carefully—the art galleries, certain restaurants—you can run into more Democrats than Republicans, maybe. But Chucktown has been molasses-slow to acknowledge the brave legacy of Waring. Finally this month, he got his due. A statue was dedicated outside the same federal courthouse building where he heard his cases.

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Sen. Warren willing to take on system

Elizabeth WarrenHow has an earnest 64-year-old Harvard professor with a specialty in bankruptcy law emerged as a progressive hero and presidential prospect?

For one thing, listen to what Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren says when asked if some bankers should have gone to jail in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008. "You always want to be careful about this as a lawyer," she begins in an interview with USA TODAY, sounding every bit a senator. Then she stops herself. "Actually, no, let me start that one over. Yes!"

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Kansas speech by Michelle Obama draws complaints

Michelle ObamaIf expanding the guest list to include Michelle Obama at graduation for high school students in the Kansas capital city means fewer seats for friends and family, some students and their parents would prefer the first lady not attend.

A furor over what the Topeka school district considers an honor has erupted after plans were announced for Obama to address a combined graduation ceremony for five area high schools next month an 8,000-seat arena. For some, it was the prospect of a tight limit on the number of seats allotted to each graduate. For others, it was the notion that Obama's speech, tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools, would overshadow the student's big day.

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The tea party radio network

tea party radioGlenn Beck worked the crowd like a preacher at a rally this month in Louisville, Ky., declaring that God had responded to conservatives’ prayers by sending a slate of tea party candidates to wrest control of the Republican Party from Mitch McConnell.

But there was a more earthly benefit to the arrangement that brought Beck to the rally. It was organized by the tea party nonprofit group FreedomWorks, which had endorsed the candidates — and which has paid more than $6 million in recent years to have Beck promote the group, its initiatives and events.

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The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes

wall streetOligarchy is a form of government in which power is vested in a dominant class and a small group exercises control over the general population.

A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the U.S. government represents not the interests of the majority of citizens but those of the rich and powerful.

"Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" analyzed extensive data, comparing nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted between 1981 and 2002 with the expressed preferences of average and affluent Americans as well as special interest groups.

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Bloomberg plans $50M gun control network

gun controlFormer New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday that he plans to spend $50 million this year on a new group that will mix campaign contributions with field operations aimed at pulling 1 million gun-control supporters to the polls, adding a new dimension to his long-running fight for tighter firearms regulation.

The new organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, plans to mobilize voters to back candidates and ballot measures supporting such causes as enhancing background checks for gun buyers, according to a news release. The group also plans to issue candidate questionnaires and scorecards and form a political action committee.

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