Archive: 2011 January
On Monday, President Barack Obama nominated White House Deputy Counsel Donald Verrilli Jr. to be U.S. solicitor general. If confirmed by the Senate, Verrilli would take over for Neal Katyal, who is principal deputy solicitor general and has been acting solicitor general since Elena Kagan vacated the office on May 17, 2010, to become a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice.
Westboro Baptist Church, which has made a name for itself with its controversial high-profile protests of military funerals and a subsequent lawsuit that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, is once again making headlines. This time, the small Kansas-based church led by Fred W. Phelps, Sr., has threatened to protest the funerals of victims of Tucson, Arizona, gunman Jared Loughner. A last-minute compromise, however, has avoided demonstrations during the first two of the six funerals. Instead, representatives for Westboro church will be given time on two radio talk shows, one based in Phoenix and one nationally syndicated.
Democratic and Republican Senate leaders are currently engaged in negotiations regarding proposed changes in Senate rules that would decrease the threat of filibusters and promote bipartisan cooperation. In the wake of the Tucson shootings and the President’s call for more civil discourse, will these negotiations result in changes that are acceptable to both sides and might help alleviate legislative gridlock? The upcoming issue of Congressional Digest will discuss the history and use of the filibuster, and whether or not it should be reformed.
In remarks delivered the December 22 signing ceremony repealing the Defense Department’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, President Obama said that the new law “will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.” The event was the culmination of a 17-year campaign to eliminate the Pentagon’s policy banning homosexuals from serving openly in the military (see “Gays in the Military,” Congressional Digest, April 2010). But when will the policy actually be phased out?