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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    Dozens of vehicles skidded, spun out, and collided with each other in a massive highway accident that left at least three dead on a frozen stretch of Interstate 78 in Bethel Township, Pennsylvania, Saturday morning. The pileup was likely caused in part by the extreme winter weather that has hit much of the northeastern United States.

    The crash, which local news outlets reported involved 50 or more vehicles, including roughly a dozen tractor-trailers, happened around 9:30 Saturday morning.

    In addition to the fatalities, at least a dozen people were injured in the accident, said Trooper David LeBron of the Jonestown State Police Barracks, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

    Rescue workers, including a dozen ambulances and rescue units and four helicopters, were sent to the scene to aid victims, who included at least 15 people trapped in their vehicles.

    Several organizations, including the State Police, the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, are coordinating to respond to the accident, and Central Pennsylvania Red Cross workers assisted at a shelter set up at the fire department in nearby Jonestown.

    One of the vehicles involved in the accident was a bus carrying the Penn State Lehigh Valley men’s basketball team to a game in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.

    In an announcement on the school’s website, Penn State said the team’s chartered bus had been hit by a tractor-trailer, but that there were “no serious injuries to anyone who was on the bus,” adding around noon that “the team is on a warm, dry bus and they are en route to the nearest hospital as a precautionary measure.”

    Although the exact cause of the crash was unknown as of Saturday evening, the surface of I-78 in the area around the crash was dusted with snow, and there were snowdrifts on the shoulder of the road. Witnesses who were present at the scene reported whiteout conditions at the time of the pileup.

    States across the East Coast and Midwest are experiencing extreme cold weather, and the National Weather Service has issued wind chill warnings for wide swathes of the country. The frigid forecast prompted many event cancellations Saturday, including New York City’s annual Central Park Ice Festival.

    The post At least 3 dead in 50-car pileup in Pennsylvania appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) holds a rally at Morningstar Fellowship Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina February 11, 2016. Hours before Saturday's Republican presidential debate, the Texas senator called U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia an "American hero." Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) holds a rally at Morningstar Fellowship Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina February 11, 2016. Hours before Saturday’s Republican presidential debate, the Texas senator called U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia an “American hero.” Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    GREENVILLE, S.C. — The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia jolted the Republican primary hours before Saturday night’s debate, with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio arguing that Scalia’s replacement must be nominated by the next president, not Barack Obama.

    Cruz called the conservative Scalia an “American hero” and said the Senate should “ensure that the next president names his replacement.” Rubio said the “next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia’s unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear.”

    The candidates were backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    Other candidates, including Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, sidestepped the question of who should nominate Scalia’s replacement in statements mourning the justice. But they’re sure to be pressed for their opinions during the debate in Greenville, South Carolina.

    Until now, the Supreme Court has factored into the presidential race only tangentially, with candidates reminding voters that the next president could be responsible for filling multiple vacancies.

    Just six contenders will take the debate stage, far from the long line of candidates who participated in earlier GOP events. But even with a streamlined field, the Republican race remains deeply uncertain.

    Rubio, Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are vying for the support of more traditional Republican voters. But all three are chasing Trump and Cruz.

    Much of the attention Saturday night will be on Rubio, who fell to fifth place in the New Hampshire primary after stumbling badly in the last GOP debate.

    Florida’s junior senator has faced criticism that while he delivers a good speech and sharp answers in debates, he lacks depth. He played into that characterization when he repeated the same practiced line multiple times under pressure from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

    While Rubio has sought to shed some of his reliance on talking points in recent days, the debate will be a prime test of whether he can rebound.

    Rubio’s poor performance has created a potential opening for Bush, the former Florida governor, and Kasich. Bush in particular will need a solid showing in South Carolina, given his prominent political family’s ties to the state, while Kasich is just hoping to remain viable until the race heads to friendly territory for the Midwestern governor.

    Having split the first two voting states, Trump and Cruz are hoping to add to their win total in South Carolina’s Feb. 20 primary.

    The relationship between the billionaire and the Texas senator has become increasingly acrimonious in recent days. Cruz released a television advertisement before the debate accusing the real estate mogul of a “pattern of sleaze,” spurring Trump to fire back on Twitter with another round of questions about his Canadian-born rival’s eligibility to be president.

    If Cruz “doesn’t clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen,” Trump wrote.

    While Trump will be standing at center stage, signifying his lead in national preference polls, Rubio will be the center of attention.

    Katon Dawson, former chairman of the South Carolina GOP, said he expects the debate to have more of an impact on his state’s voters than the results in either Iowa or New Hampshire.

    “In the last couple of races, we have seen our voters hold their final pick until a couple of days before,” Dawson said. “After the church bells ring on Sunday, people are going to start paying a lot of attention.”

    Also on stage Saturday will be Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who has struggled to stay relevant in the debates as his standing in the race sharply slipped. Carson pledged that he wouldn’t allow himself to be ignored.

    “I’m going to be much more boisterous,” he said on Fox TV.

    Poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire led some frequent debate participants, including Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, to end their campaigns. Nearly all lower polling candidates who have populated undercard debates have also all ended their White House bids.

    Pace reported from Washington.

    The post Scalia death rattles GOP field ahead of debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia during a statement delivered in Rancho Mirage, California February 13, 2016. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia during a statement delivered in Rancho Mirage, California February 13, 2016. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Republican White House hopefuls insisted that President Barack Obama step aside and let his successor nominate the next Supreme Court justice, in a raucous Saturday night debate that also featured harshly personal jousting over immigration and foreign policy.

    The debate was shaken by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia hours before the candidates took the stage. Among the contenders, only Jeb Bush said Obama had “every right” to nominate a justice during his final year in office. The former Florida governor said the presidency must be a strong office — though he added that he didn’t expect Obama to pick a candidate who could win consensus support.

    The five other candidates on the stage urged the Republican-led Senate to block any attempts by the president to get his third nominee on the court.

    “It’s up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it,” Donald Trump said. “It’s called delay, delay, delay.”

    A debate that began with a somber moment of silence for Scalia devolved quickly into fighting between Trump and Bush, then between Trump and Cruz. The exchanges highlighted the bad blood between the billionaire businessman and his rivals as the race turns to South Carolina, a state known for rough-and-tumble politics.

    Trump, repeatedly interrupting his rivals, lashed out at Cruz after the Texas senator challenged his conservative credentials, Trump calling Cruz the “single-biggest liar” and a “nasty guy.” The real estate mogul also accused Bush of lying about Trump’s business record and said Bush’s brother — former President George W. Bush — lied to the public about the Iraq war.

    Bush, who has been among the most aggressive Republican candidates in taking on Trump, said that while he didn’t mind the businessman criticizing him — “It’s blood sport for him” — he was “sick and tired of him going after my family.”

    Trump was jeered lustily by the audience in Greenville, South Carolina, a state where the Bush family is popular with Republicans. George W. Bush plans to campaign with his brother in Charleston Monday, making his first public foray into the 2016 race.

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich sought to inject the election’s high stakes into the discussion in the midst of the fiery exchanges between his competitors.

    “I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this,” Kasich said.

    The governor’s warnings did little to deter his feisty colleagues.

    Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio also revived their fight over immigration, with the Texas senator haranguing his Florida counterpart for sponsoring failed legislation that would have created a pathway to citizenship for many of those in the United States illegally. Cruz also accused Rubio of taking a more moderate approach when speaking to Spanish-language media in an attempt to appeal to Hispanics.

    “I don’t know how he knows what I said on Univision — he doesn’t speak Spanish,” Rubio shot back.

    Rubio entered the debate under immense pressure following his disappointing fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. He stumbled badly in a debate days before that vote when he relied heavily on well-rehearsed talking points, even after being called out for it during the contest.

    Rubio appeared more fluid in Saturday’s contest, including during a robust defense of his proposed 25 percent corporate tax rate — which is not as much of a tax cut as many of his rivals are pitching. Rubio said his idea would leave enough revenue in the federal budget to triple the child tax credit for working families with children.

    Just six contenders took the debate stage, far from the long line of candidates who participated in earlier GOP events. Yet the Republican race remains deeply uncertain, with party elites still hoping that one of the more mainstream candidates will rise up to challenge Trump and Cruz. Many GOP leaders believe both would be unelectable in November.

    Scalia’s sudden death could serve as a reminder of the consequences of elections.

    Cruz cast the moment in stark terms, saying allowing another Obama nominee to be approved would amount to Republicans giving up control of the Supreme Court for a generation. An uncompromising conservative, Cruz urged voters to consider who among the GOP candidates would nominate the most ideologically pure justices.

    “One of the most important judgments for the men and women of South Carolina to make is who on this stage has the background, the principle, the character, the judgment and the strength of resolve to nominate and confirm principled constitutionalists to the court,” Cruz said.

    Saturday’s debate came one week before South Carolina’s primary. Cruz and Trump emerged from the first two voting contests with a victory apiece and appear positioned to compete for a win in the first Southern primary.

    Kasich defended himself against attacks on his conservative credentials, particularly his decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio despite resistance from his GOP-led Legislature. Kasich argued that his decision was a good deal for the state in the long run.

    “We want everyone to rise and we will make them personally responsible for the help they get,” said Kasich, whose fledgling campaign gained new life after a second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary.

    Bush played the aggressor again, saying that Kasich’s actions amounted to “expanding Obamacare” — a deeply unpopular concept among Republicans.

    The post Testy GOP contenders say Obama should wait on Supreme Court nomination appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Governor John Kasich criticizes his rivals for attacking each other at the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Governor John Kasich criticizes his rivals for attacking each other at the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

     

    WASHINGTON — The Republican presidential debaters misfired in assertions about Supreme Court nominees, Syria and more.

    A look at some of the claims and how they compare with the facts:

    TED CRUZ: “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year.”

    MARCO RUBIO: “It has been over 80 years since a lame-duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice.”

    THE FACTS: Cruz is wrong. Rubio is in the ballpark.

    Anthony Kennedy was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 3, 1988, in the final year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, by a 97-0 vote. That was a presidential election year.

    Presidents don’t appoint justices to the high court; they nominate them for Senate confirmation. Kennedy was nominated in in 1987 and confirmed the next year. That makes Rubio closer to correct.

    Rubio and other Republicans argued that President Barack Obama, as a lame duck, should not fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, but leave it to the next president — which they hope will be one of them.

    But the example of Kennedy, who is still on the court, shows that presidents in their last year aren’t always powerless in shaping the court — and not shy about trying.

    ___

    JEB BUSH: “Russia is not taking out ISIS. They’re attacking our team.”

    DONALD TRUMP: “Jeb is so wrong. You’ve got to fight ISIS first. … We’ve been in the Middle East for 15 years and we haven’t won anything. We’ve spent $5 trillion in the Middle East.”

    THE FACTS: Both spoke with too broad a brush. Russia is bombing both the Islamic State group and Western-backed rebels. But the U.S. and its partners say the majority of Russia’s strikes haven’t targeted IS fighters, and that its most recent offensive near Aleppo is primarily hitting “moderate” opposition forces.

    As with most things in Syria, however, the picture is unclear because some of the moderates are fighting alongside other extremist groups, like the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

    Trump’s figure for total U.S. expenditures in the Middle East, though, appears significantly inflated. In November, Trump cited a $2 trillion figure. That number roughly matches the amount of money the U.S. spent fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2015, according to the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

    ___

    CRUZ on a failed 2013 immigration overhaul: “I stood with (Sen.) Jeff Sessions and (Rep.) Steven King and the American people to defeat that amnesty plan. The question for anyone on illegal immigration is, where were you in that fight?”

    RUBIO: “When that issue was being debated, Ted Cruz at a committee hearing very passionately said, ‘I want immigration reform to pass, I want people to be able to come out of the shadows.’ He proposed an amendment that would have legalized people here. … So he either wasn’t telling the truth then, or he isn’t telling the truth now.”

    THE FACTS: Rubio’s account is mostly right. While Cruz has been against an explicit path to citizenship for people in the country illegally, he did introduce legislation in that 2013 bill that proposed eventual legal status for millions of people. He also publicly supported the legislation in the Senate and urged its passing.

    He has since said his amendment was designed to help kill the broader bill. The immigration bill co-authored by Rubio failed to pass in the House.

    Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.

    The post Fact-checking the Republican debate in South Carolina. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidates Senator Marco Rubio (R), businessman Donald Trump (C) and former Governor Jeb Bush (L) take the stage before the start of the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    Republican U.S. presidential candidates Senator Marco Rubio (R), businessman Donald Trump (C) and former Governor Jeb Bush (L) take the stage before the start of the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    GREENVILLE, S.C. — The Latest on the 2016 presidential race, with the focus turning to South Carolina and the Republican debate on Saturday night (all times local):

    10:58 p.m.

    Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says South Carolina has “a critical choice to make” when it votes in its state primary in one week because “our country literally hangs in the balance.”

    Offering his closing argument at Saturday’s debate, Cruz took subtle aim at his chief rival: businessman Donald Trump.

    Cruz asked the crowd, “Do you want another Washington deal-maker who’ll do business as usual, cut deals with the Democrats, grow government, grow debt and give up our fundamental liberties.”

    Earlier in the debate, he attacked Trump’s record on conservatism.

    Trump used his closing argument to note that “politicians are all talk and no action” and says that he’s different because he isn’t controlled by special interest and lobby groups.

    He said: “I’m working for you, and I’m not working for anybody else.”

    10:55 p.m.

    Jeb Bush is using his closing argument at Saturday’s Republican debate to echo what he says South Carolina Republicans want from a president.

    It’s a slight twist on his usual argument. Often, the former governor points to his specific conservative accomplishments in Florida. But the presidency, he says, is often about the “unforeseen challenge.”

    Marco Rubio is reprising his promise of “a new American century” that he says will be better than today’s “difficult time in our country.” The Florida senator said in his closing debate argument Saturday that South Carolina Republicans can make 2016 “our turning point.”

    He also referenced his socially conservative stance on abortion and same-sex marriage, issues that could resonate with conservative Christians in South Carolina.

    10:50 p.m.

    John Kasich and Ben Carson agree the spirit of America needs to be restored.

    Kasich, in his closing remarks, says it’s up to Americans to help their neighbors and contribute to their local schools because the “spirit of America doesnt’ come from the top down.”

    Carson, meanwhile, says he’s the candidate who will be “accountable to everyone and beholden to no one.” He says its up to “we the people” to stop the decline of America and restore the country’s spiritual life, patriotism and morality.

    10:48 p.m.

    Donald Trump is bristling at Jeb Bush’s suggestions that the reality TV star-turned-presidential candidate went bankrupt in his past business ventures.

    Trump said during Saturday’s Republican debate that he never personally went bankrupt, and instead, suggested that he only used bankruptcy proceedings and tax laws to protect struggling businesses.

    Trump then went on the offensive against Bush, Florida’s former governor, saying he wasn’t a good governor.

    Trump said Bush ran up so much state debt that “as soon as he got out of office, Florida crashed.” It was an accusation that made some in the crowd boo in disbelief.

    Bush denied the charge and said that Trump’s past bankruptcy filings meant those who did business with him didn’t get paid for past services.

    10:45 p.m.

    Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is defending his bombastic temperament and frequent use of profanity in public.

    He said at Saturday’s Republican presidential debate that criticism against him “is very unfair,” adding that he will not make vulgar remarks again on the campaign trail. Trump says “not using profanity is very easy.”

    Trump has used profanity when describing how he would bomb Islamic State outposts in the Middle East. At a New Hampshire rally earlier this week, Trump repeated a supporter’s vulgar insult of Sen. Ted Cruz.

    Trump also tells CBS News moderator John Dickerson that he is capable of keeping advisers who tell him when he acts inappropriately. Asked who could fill that role, the billionaire real estate mogul named his wife, Melania Trump.

    10:40 p.m.

    Forget the Republican primary — John Kasich is already courting Democrats for the general election.

    Kasich says the Democratic party is losing blue collar voters with talk of socialism, a reference to self-described “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders.

    Kasich said at Saturday’s GOP debate that he’s a “uniter” who will get working class Democrats to come out and vote for him next fall, “I promise you that.”

    Conservative South Carolina is not natural turf for Kasich, a candidate who supports expanding Medicaid and doesn’t believe in deporting people living in the country illegally. He’s visited Democratic areas while campaigning in the state and has been openly appealing to Democratic voters on the trail.

    10:30 p.m.

    Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson says that Democrats shouldn’t blame the rich for the country’s economic woes.

    Carson warned at Saturday’s Republican debate: “We’re on the verge of economic collapse.”

    He says that proposals like free college are unrealistic because of the country’s already large debt, which he says “causes the Fed to change their policy. It causes the central bank to keep their rates low.”

    He says that hurts “Mr. Average, who used to go to the bank every Friday and put part of his check in the bank” to grow a nest egg.

    He blamed the government for failing the people, not the wealthy.

    10:25 p.m.

    Jeb Bush is bringing his brother, Former President George W. Bush, to campaign in South Carolina on Monday ahead of the Feb. 20 Republican presidential primary.

    But under attack from Donald Trump at Saturday’s Republican debate, Bush is admitting that he disagrees with his brother on eminent domain.

    At issue: The Arlington, Texas, baseball stadium where the Texas Rangers professional baseball club plays.

    Before he was Texas governor and then president, George W. Bush was part of the ownership group that owned the Rangers and benefited from the park that was built by the city of Arlington, Texas.

    The city used eminent domain to gain control of the land and then used taxpayer money to build the stadium, effectively subsidizing George W. Bush and his fellow owners.

    Trump mocked the deal. Jeb Bush replied that “you should not use eminent domain” for a baseball stadium that benefits a privately owned franchise.

    10:15 p.m.

    Donald Trump says he feels like a conservative.

    “I also feel I’m a common-sense conservative,” Trump said in Saturday’s Republican debate.

    That’s not a good enough answer for Ted Cruz, who says Trump has been “very, very liberal” for most of his career. Cruz is warning that Trump would nominate liberal Supreme Court justices if elected president, a claim with more weight following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

    Cruz says Trump is an “amazing entertainer,” but adds “you shouldn’t be flexible or core principles.”

    In a heated exchange — the first major sparring match between the two candidates — Trump hit back, calling Cruz a “nasty guy” who will say anything. Cruz, meanwhile, tells Trump that adults should know not to interrupt each other.

    10:10 p.m.

    Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz says conservative economic policies are the best way to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.

    The Texas senator says “big government” and “massive taxation” have driven more people into poverty, and he praises Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan for urging GOP politicians to talk more directly about poverty and ways to ease it.

    Cruz used his father, once a Cuban immigrant, to personalize the pitch.

    The senator says he thinks about “how these policies would affect my father” when he was a young man working as a dishwasher after first arriving in the United States.

    10:08 p.m.

    Marco Rubio is hitting presidential rival and fellow Cuban-American Ted Cruz on his inability to speak Spanish.

    Cruz responded in Spanish — although his comments were halting and heavily accented.

    During a heated exchange about immigration at Saturday’s GOP debate, Cruz chastised Rubio for past comments on the Spanish-language network Univision. Rubio responded that Cruz couldn’t have known what he said on Univision “because he doesn’t speak Spanish” drawing a raucous response from the crowd.

    Cruz promptly offered a brief response in Spanish. His answer was off-camera and heavily accented, however, making it hard to understand — even for bilingual listeners.

    Rubio speaks fluent Spanish, while Cruz has for years freely admitted that his Spanish is “lousy.”

    10:05 p.m.

    Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are once again clashing over illegal immigration, with each accusing the other of being the weak on the issue.

    Cruz says there’s a “sharp difference” between the pair when it comes to immigration and is once again pointing to Rubio’s role in the “Gang of Eight” legislation that would have provided a path to legalization.

    Cruz slams the bill as “the Rubio-Schumer amnesty plan,” earning boos from the crowd.

    But Rubio brings up the fact that Cruz proposed an amendment that would have included a path to legalization.

    Rubio says that he’s never supported amnesty “without consequence,” adding that in order to make progress on illegal immigration, the country must first bring illegal immigration under control

    10:00 p.m.

    Two of the top Republican presidential candidates are mixing it up with the crowd more than each other at the Republican presidential debate.

    Donald Trump drew boos and sustained catcalls early on, when he suggested that “I get along with everybody” trying to explain his ability to make business deals.

    Trump responded that his campaign was self-funded, which only led to more boos.

    Later, Ted Cruz sparked hoots and boos when he claimed responsibility for helping defeat an immigration overhaul that Marco Rubio helped carry in the Senate.

    Cruz got visibly testy, saying that the “donor class” didn’t like his immigration stance. He was suggesting that the crowd in Greenville, South Carolina, was packed with top donors — a charge he’s made a previous debates.

    The crowd, predictably, reacted by booing with more gusto.

    9:55 p.m.

    John Kasich is on the defensive over his decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio, a move widely rejected by Republican governors in South Carolina and other Southern states that vote March 1.

    Kasich says his expansion of Medicaid is a good deal because it is keeping people suffering from mental illness and drug addictions out of prisons.

    But Jeb Bush pounced on what he sees as a liability at Saturday’s debate, accusing Kasich of participating in “Obamacare” rather than fighting it. He says expanding Medicaid is “creating further debt on the backs of our children and our grandchildren.”

    Kasich notes that Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid multiple times during his presidency. He says he opposes the health care overhaul law, but expanding Medicaid is a chance to “get people on their feet.”

    9:50 p.m.

    Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are defending their competing tax policy proposals in the Republican presidential debate in South Carolina.

    Cruz defends his business flat tax proposal for a 16 percent corporate tax rate, instead of the current 35 percent, as a way to spur economic growth.

    Rubio defends his proposed 25 percent corporate tax rate — which is not as much of a tax cut as many of his rivals are pitching. Rubio says his idea would leave enough revenue in the federal budget to triple the child tax credit for working families with children.

    The Florida senator notes that businesses get to write off investments in new equipment. So, he says, families should get bigger tax breaks to boost investments in their children.

    Rubio drew big applause when he framed his approach as a “a tax plan that is pro-family.”

    9:45 p.m.

    Donald Trump is insisting that his economic plan, including no proposed changes to current Social Security payouts, won’t add billions to the deficit, as some have claimed.

    Trump says, “I’m the only one going to save social security, believe me.”

    Asked how he’ll pay for that, Trump points to a trio of causes.

    “You have tremendous waste, fraud and abuse. That we’re taking care of,” he says.

    He adds: “We’re not going to hurt the people who’ve been paying into social security their whole life and then all of a sudden they’re supposed to get less.”

    9:40 p.m.

    Marco Rubio and Donald Trump are engaging in a fiery back and forth over whether former President George W. Bush kept the nation safe.

    Trump says the world trade center “came down during the reign of George W. Bush,” drawing boos from the crowd.

    Trump’s forceful remarks came after Rubio said he thanks God “that it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore.” He immediately pushed back on Trump’s comments, declaring it’s Bill Clinton, not Bush, who is to blame for not killing Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s.

    Trump is slamming the former president, brother of candidate Jeb Bush, as the debate focuses on foreign policy and the decision to invade Iraq. He’s alone among the six candidates on stage in criticizing Bush.

    9:30 p.m.

    Donald Trump is calling the war in Iraq “a big fat mistake,” turning it into an attack against rival Jeb Bush.

    Trump said the war costed the United States trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. He said it destabilized the Middle East while empowering Iran in the region.

    Jeb Bush fired back that he was tired of Trump being up on his family. He said that while Trump was “building a TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus” to keep the nation safe.

    Trump invoked Sept. 11, shooting back that the “Twin Towers came down.” Bush said he was proud of what his brother did as president.

    9:28 p.m.

    Ted Cruz refuses to rule out using U.S. ground troops in the Middle East to fight the Islamic State group.

    But the Texas senator said in Saturday’s Republican presidential debate that he doesn’t think it’s necessary.

    Cruz says he believes he would instead use “overwhelming air power” and provide U.S. arms to Kurdish forces.

    He adds that he believes “a nuclear Iran”

    9:23 p.m.

    Donald Trump and Jeb Bush are tangling over Vladimir Putin’s role in the Syrian civil war.

    Bush says it’s “absolutely ludicrous to suggest that Russia could be a positive partner in this,” as Trump has suggested.

    But Trump, who has praised Putin in the past, says he has no problem with Russia’s intervention or the man himself.

    He says he has no problem with Russia helping to defeat Islamic State militants and says Jeb is “so wrong,” provoking boos from the crowd.

    “You know who that is? That’s Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists talking,” Trump responds.

    Bush derides Trump’s response as “ridiculous.”

    9:20 p.m.

    John Kasich says the United States needs to build a “coalition of civilized people” to take out the Islamic State group and restore American leadership around the globe.

    Kasich says the world is “desperate” for American leadership in knocking out terrorist organizations and stopping Russian aggression.

    He also says if elected president he would arm Ukrainian rebels fighting against Russia and make it clear to Russia that an attack on any NATO countries is an attack on the United States.

    9:15 p.m.

    Donald Trump says that if he is elected president, his first national security decision he would make would be on how to attack the Islamic State, because “we are going to have to hit very, very hard.”

    Trump also called the group “animals” and decried the war in Iraq and the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

    Sen. Marco Rubio named three foreign policy priorities: dealing with North Korea and China, limiting Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East and rebuilding NATO in Europe.

    9:10 p.m.

    Ted Cruz is using the latest Republican presidential debate in South Carolina to assure voters that he is the best candidate to pick a Supreme Court successor to Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday, hours before the debate.

    A former Supreme Court clerk, Cruz argues he has the “background” and “judgment” and “resolve” to “nominated and confirm principled constitutionalists.”

    Cruz and his fellow senator, Marco Rubio, agree that the Senate should not confirm whomever President Barack Obama nominates to succeed Scalia.

    Cruz avoided a direct question about whether he would pledge as president not to try to fill judicial vacancies late in his term.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is deviating from some of his rivals. He says he wants “a strong executive” who is willing to make court nominations. But Bush says he doubts Obama will offer a “consensus” nominee the Senate would accept.

    9:05 p.m.

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he fully expects President Obama to try to nominate a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But he says it’s up to Congress to “delay, delay, delay.”

    Trump says, “If I were president now I would certainly want to try and nominate a justice.”

    But he says it’s up the senate to stop it.

    Rival John Kasich is also advising the president to hold off on selecting a successor because he says it would further divide the country.

    He says, “I really wish the president would think about not nominating somebody,” he says. “I would like the president to just for once here, put the country first.”

    Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson says, “I fully agree that we should not allow a judge to be appointed in his time.”

    9:00 p.m.

    The latest Republican presidential debate is beginning in South Carolina against the backdrop of news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly Saturday.

    The candidates and audience observed a brief moment of silence before the debate got under way.

    8:00 p.m.

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is praising Justice Antonin Scalia as a “dedicated public servant,” even as she notes she does not share his conservative views.

    She says Republicans calling on the seat to remain vacant until the next president enters office “dishonor our Constitution.”

    The Senate has a responsibility to confirm a new justice she says and “cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons.”

    Clinton is in the midst of a weekend campaign swing through Nevada.

    3:45 p.m.

    John Kasich is proud of efforts he made while in Congress to trim what he believed to be wasteful defense.

    But allies of Jeb Bush — one of Kasich’s Republican presidential rivals — see a potential vulnerability for Kasich in military-minded South Carolina. They’re trying to slow the Ohio governor’s momentum after a strong showing in New Hampshire.

    An outside group backing Bush has begun airing a television ad ahead of South Carolina’s Republican primary on Feb. 20 — using Kasich’s own words.

    Kasich and others are denouncing the broadside, but it’s clear that the rivalry between Kasich and Bush is intensifying. Bush’s team sees defense spending as a key area to draw distinctions.

    The post The latest: Republican presidential candidates battle in South Carolina appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov go for a handshake before their bilateral talks in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 11, ahead of the International Syria Support Group meeting. Photo by Michael Dalder/Reuters

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    MEGAN THOMPSON, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Rebel-held areas around Aleppo, Syria, continue to be subject to fierce fighting, as government forces try to retake the city. And a new report from the independent Syrian Center for Policy Research estimates 470,000 Syrians have died in the war, almost double previous estimates.

    “New York Times” reporter David Sanger is covering the conference, and he joins me now from Munich.

    David, a day after the cease-fire plan was announced, confidence in it doesn’t seem to be very high, correct?

    DAVID SANGER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It certainly doesn’t.

    We heard Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, say today that he thought maybe 49 percent. And somewhat sarcastically we heard Secretary of State Kerry later on, “Oh, he’s that optimistic?” I think Mr. Kerry has got a higher sense of probability that this will work.

    But there’s an awful lot, Megan, that can get in the way of this. There are two parts to this.

    The first part is humanitarian deliveries to the besieged cities in Syria. I think there’s a fair bit of optimism that those will be stark, and the question is how long will they last?

    The second and much harder part of this is what most people would call a cease-fire and what they are calling for these purposes “a cessation of hostilities”. Even Secretary Kerry has said this may only be a pause. The idea is give enough of a quiet moment to actually get negotiations going.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: It seems that as talk of this cease-fire have increased, so have tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Is this just posturing, or is it part of something bigger?

    DAVID SANGER: You know, it really is something bigger. Think of the different elements. We have the continued tensions and sanctions over Ukraine. We have the increased Russian patrols off of the British coast, off of most of Europe, more nuclear forces being exercised.

    And I think here, the Americans were taken a little bit by surprise at the speed at which the Russians ended up entering that air war over Aleppo, and thus gaining some leverage that the U.S. right now does not have in return.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: One of the issues that has caused tension between the two countries is this issue of military coordination in Syria. Can you talk a little bit about that and if there’s been any movement on that front?

    DAVID SANGER: The United States has been very, very cautious about getting into coordination with the Russians because they say, look, the Russians are deceiving people about who they’re striking.

    They’re striking many of the rebel groups aligned with the United States other ands who have been opposing Assad, and saying that they’re just striking the two terror groups that have been designated by the United Nations, the Islamic State, and the al-Nusra Front.

    But the coordination is going to be unavoidable over the next few weeks because they’re supposed to work together in a joint task force headed by Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov, to pick out targeting.

    They’re supposed to work together on the cease-fire, and they’re supposed to work together on the humanitarian aid. I don’t know how you do that without something that approaches coordination, made all the harder by the fact that the United States is, of course, back into the sanctions business against the Russians right now.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: David, you can talk a little bit about the timetable, how this will all work on the ground?

    DAVID SANGER: Well, Megan, the way it’s supposed to work is that the humanitarian relief is supposed to begin within days, and Secretary Kerry said today that the trucks are loaded up and ready to go. But that’s a different thing than actually getting them into where they’re supposed to be. And the Russians are supposed to be airdropping some aid. Some of the big questions is, where they aired drop it and to which people?

    If a week from today, we still see a lot of fighting going on, then you’ll know that this wasn’t working the way it was supposed to.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: All right. David Sanger of “The New York Times” — thank you so much for joining us.

    DAVID SANGER: Thank you, Megan. Good to be back with you.

    The post Russia casts doubt on Syria ceasefire deal as army gains ground appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The remaining Republican U.S. presidential candidates, (L-R) Governor John Kasich, former Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Ted Cruz, businessman Donald Trump, Senator Marco Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson pose before the start of the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    The remaining Republican U.S. presidential candidates, (L-R) Governor John Kasich, former Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Ted Cruz, businessman Donald Trump, Senator Marco Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson pose before the start of the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Saturday’s Republican presidential debate was the perfect spot for GOP candidates to try and project legal gravitas after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

    That was a fairly civil discussion.

    Then came the brawls:

    First, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush went after each other. Then Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio got into their own shouting match, which even devolved into barbs about who can speak Spanish.

    Then it was back to Trump v. Bush for Round Two. Next up: Trump v. Cruz.

    John Kasich tried to stand above the fray.

    It was the smallest GOP field on the debate stage yet, after the departures of Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina. But the six surviving candidates filled the void — and then some.

    COURT POLITICS

    No surprise here: Most of the Republicans on the stage said it should be up to the next president (i.e. one of them, they hope) to fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death.

    Bush, the son and brother of a president, was the outlier here. “The president, by the way, has every right to nominate Supreme Court justices,” Bush said. He added that President Barack Obama should take a “consensus orientation” toward that nomination, but added: “There’s no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama will not have a consensus pick when he submits that person to the Senate.”

    The two lawyers and the only senators in the group — Rubio and Cruz —both said Obama should leave the selection to the new president.

    It was a perfect forum for Cruz, who has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court, to show off his legal credentials. He made it a point to mention he’d known Scalia for 20 years.

    TRUMP v. BUSH

    Trump was back in attack mode toward Bush, repeatedly saying “Jeb is so wrong” on national security and more, and laying into former President George W. Bush for failing to keep the nation safe from the 9/11 terror attacks.

    Bush, revived by a stronger-than-expected showing in New Hampshire, showed more spark than he had in past debates.

    He said he could care less about Trump’s endless insults but declared himself “sick and tired of him going after my family.”

    “While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe,” Bush said. He also faulted the billionaire for having “the gall to go after my mother.”

    Trump shot back: “She should be running.”

    The audience got into the mix, too, with plenty of heckles and boos for Trump.

    Trump dismissed that as nothing but “Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists talking.”

    CRUZ v. RUBIO

    In a lull from the Trump theatrics, Cruz and Rubio got into their own fistfight. The two senators each found reason to find weakness in the other’s record on illegal immigration.

    Cruz was the initial aggressor, saying Rubio had backed a “massive amnesty plan” in the Senate for those living in the country illegally.

    Rubio, trying to recover after a disastrous debate performance in New Hampshire, countered that Cruz had shown his own moments of weakness on illegal immigration, adding, “he either wasn’t the telling the truth then or he wasn’t telling the truth now.”

    The heated exchange between two Cuban-American candidates quickly devolved in a spat over their Spanish language skills.

    When Rubio observed that Cruz “doesn’t speak Spanish,” Cruz offered up a few words in the language. But his answer was heavily accented, making it hard to understand — even for bilingual listeners.

    TRUMP v. CRUZ

    The two candidates with victories so far — Trump in New Hampshire and Cruz in Iowa — have been engaged in an increasingly bitter duel in recent days and they took it to a new level Saturday.

    Cruz began the round by questioning Trump’s conservative credentials, saying “For most of his life, his policies have been very, very liberal.”

    That set Trump off: “You are the single biggest liar,” he said, “you probably are worse than Jeb Bush.”

    “This guy will say anything,” Trump continued. “He’s a nasty guy.”

    There was much shouting over one another, and boos from the audience, prompting one of the debate moderators to observed, “Gentlemen, we are in danger of driving this into the dirt.”

    KASICH THE OPTIMIST

    The Ohio governor, hoping to build on his surprise second-place finish in New Hampshire, tried to present himself as the voice of reason and positivity.

    At one lull in the slugfest, he declared: “This is just crazy. This is just nuts. Geez, oh man.”

    “I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this,” he said.

    CARSON CHIMES IN

    Ben Carson, who’s been lagging in the polls and struggling to get into the conversation, was happy just to have a more prominent turn at the mic.

    When he got a second question 20 minutes into the debate, it was cause for celebration.

    “Two questions already, this is great!” he said.

    The post Debate takeaways: Civil court discussion gives way to fighting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    US President Barack Obama speaks on the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia in Rancho Mirage, California on February 13, 2016. Scalia, 79, died Saturday, in Texas. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

    President Barack Obama speaks on the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia on February 13. Scalia, 79, died Saturday, in Texas. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama declared Saturday night he would seek to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, charging into a heated and likely prolonged election-year fight with Republicans. Obama said a nomination was “bigger than any one party.”

    With a half-dozen or more major cases and the ideological tilt of the court in the balance, Obama said he pIanned “to fulfill my constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor in due time.”

    The president said the decision was about democracy and “the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned.”

    “The immediate impact of Scalia death means that the justices will now be divided 4-4 in many of those cases. If there is a tie vote, then the lower court opinion remains in place.

    Obama’s remarks answered Republicans who wasted little time Saturday night, as news of Scalia’s unexpected death spread, arguing that Obama should leave the lifetime appointment to his successor.

    “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

    His position was echoed by several Republicans seeking the GOP presidential nomination. Sen. Ted Cruz said conservatives could not risk losing influence on the court “for a generation.” Donald Trump urged Senate Republicans to “delay, delay, delay.”

    Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton told a Democratic dinner in Denver that Obama “is president of the United States until Jan 20, 2017. That is a fact my friends, whether the Republicans like it or not.”

    “Let’s get on with it,” said Democrat Bernie Sanders, arguing that the Senate should vote on whoever Obama nominates.

    The court has already heard — but not decided — big cases involving immigration, abortion, affirmative action and public employee unions. With many cases recently decided by 5-4 margins, with Scalia leading the conservative majority, the vacancy could have major repercussions, both legally and in the presidential race.

    The nomination fight in the Senate could determine the tenor of much of Obama’s final year in office — and ricochet through the campaign to replace him. Obama, who already has little goodwill on the Hill, faces stiff opposition from Republicans hungry for the chance to further tip the court to the right. A confirmation process often takes more than two months, but could be drawn out longer by the Republican-led Senate.

    Obama said the Senate should have enough time for a fair hearing and timely vote.

    Senate Democrats made clear that they would work vigorously to keep Republicans from trying to run out the clock. They quickly offered counterarguments to Republican statements that the decision should rest with the next president.

    “It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential constitutional responsibilities.”

    Democrats pointed out that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in an election year — 1988 — the final year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Kennedy had been nominated in November 1987 after the Senate rejected Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg bowed out.

    Democrats also argued that waiting for the next president in January 2017 would leave the court without a ninth justice for more than the remainder of Obama’s term as Senate confirmation would not be immediate.

    The court faces a crowded docket of politically charged cases that are certain to resonate in the presidential campaign on issues such as immigration, abortion, affirmative action, climate change, labor unions and Obama’s health care law. Decisions were expected in late spring and early summer on whether the president could shield up to 5 million immigrants living in the United States illegally from deportation.

    The immediate impact of Scalia death means that the justices will now be divided 4-4 in many of those cases. If there is a tie vote, then the lower court opinion remains in place.

    A Senate looking at a limited legislative agenda in an election year now faces one of the most consequential decisions for the venerable body. Not only will voters choose the next president, majority control of the Senate is at stake in November, with Republicans clinging to control and concerned about the fate of some half dozen GOP senators running for re-election in states that Obama won.

    Scalia’s replacement would be Obama’s third Supreme Court appointment — joining Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. A short list of possible replacements includes two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Ann Millet.

    Obama said a nomination was “bigger than any one party.”

    Srinivasan was confirmed by the Senate 97-0 in 2013. He has served under Democratic and Republican administrations and was a law clerk to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

    Millet has argued dozens cases before the Supreme Court.

    Another potential nominee is Paul J. Watford, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Watford, an African-American, served as a law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg from 1995 to 1996.

    Not all the Republicans said Obama should skip a nomination fight.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is positioning himself as a moderate, said Obama has the power to nominate and should use it.

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich lamented, “I just wish we hadn’t run so fast at the politics.”

    The post Obama to nominate Scalia successor ‘in due time’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    (L-R) Caio Nader kisses his girlfriend Juliana Avilla, both from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the "Heart of Hearts" installation by Collective-LOK, which won the annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition, in Times Square, New York February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly         EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE - RTX26E91

    Dan Ariely explains how not to fill out your online dating profile, how to make your friend less picky in who she dates and what questions to ask on a first date. Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: With Valentine’s Day now upon us, what better time than now to talk to Dan Ariely? The professor of behavioral economics and psychology at Duke University gave a Google Talk on relationships and dating back in October. I surveyed the newsroom and a few friends for questions the married, the engaged and the single wanted answers to.

    Below, Dan Ariely explains how not to fill out your online dating profile, how to make your friend less picky in who she dates, what questions to ask on a first date and why there is a correlation between moving to a nice school district and divorce. Still want to learn more about the best gift to give your significant other? Read my conversation with Ariely here, and check out economics correspondent Paul Solman’s report on the dating market.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor

    The following text has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.


    What not to put on your online dating profile

    Kristen Doerer: Alright, so our first question is: What is the best strategy for filing out an online dating profile if you’re looking for true love? What should you put in, what should you leave out?

    Dan Ariely: So I think the question is: What function is the online dating profile going to fulfill in this search?

    So we know a couple things. We know that when people read vague descriptions, they fill the missing parts in over-optimistic ways. So if you tell me you like music, I say, “Oh my goodness, you like music? I like music too!” And I assume it’s the same music. You say you have a good sense of humor, I say, “Oh my goodness, I have a sense of humor too, we’re probably going to be a great fit!” But what you mean by sense of humor might be very different than I mean.

    This vagueness creates the opportunity for people to get disappointed. When we finally have coffee with somebody, we get crushed. And by the way, women tend to do this more than men, and people don’t tend to learn over time. This disappointment is a real killer, so you don’t want to exaggerate in your online dating profile.

    And so, for example, we know that women love tall men. Do you know about this research on height called labor analysis?

    Kristen Doerer: Tell me more.

    Dan Ariely: So labor analysis is when I take all your characteristics, how old you are, your hair color, where you went to school and all your attributes, and I put them in a regression equation with your salary. I do the same for a lot of other people. So what predicts your salary? To what extent is education helping your salary, to what extent is height helping your salary and so on?

    This is the kind of analysis that you do to show that women make less than men for the same job. So we did the same analysis for online dating. We took all the characteristics of people in an online dating profile, and we asked, “What explains these people’s success?” How much of it is explained by their height, their eye color, their hair, their education and so on? You can ask the question, for example, if I, Dan at 5’9”, wanted to be as successful as a man who is just like me, but 5’10”, how much more would I have to make a year to make up for this one inch? So what do you think is the number?

    Kristen Doerer: I’m just going to throw out $5,000.

    Dan Ariely: It’s about 40. Thousand. Yes, $40,000. Now, you can ask the question: Are women really that superficial? Right? It’s a lot of money. So part of the answer is yes, but don’t forget that with an online dating site, you can search by height. So if you say, I don’t want to see anybody below 5’10”, there might be a really wonderful, sweet guy at 5’9”, but you’ll never see him, because you said you wanted 5’10”. So yes, women love tall men to a crazy amount in my mind, but the way that the search engine works exaggerates this bias.

    Men, on the other hand, don’t care so much about women’s height, men care a lot about BMI, body mass index. And websites don’t give you BMI, but they give you height and weight and you can calculate BMI. So men like a BMI that is kind of slightly anorexic. Around 19 is the most desirable one. But let’s say a woman who has a BMI of 20 wants to be as successful as a woman whose BMI is 19. How much more do you think she would have to make in order to compensate for this one BMI?

    Kristen Doerer: Based on what you told me last time, I’m going to guess $20,000.

    Dan Ariely: Actually men don’t care about how much women make. So it doesn’t matter. I’m sure at some level they care, but we couldn’t estimate it from the data. So the variable of how much women make doesn’t seem to come into play much in the equation of how many men approach women or how many write her a message or respond to her message and so on.

    So if you think about this, you could say, let’s lie on the attributes that the other gender cares about. Women can lie about the weight, and men can lie about the height. But what happens is that this is really the key to disappointment. People don’t think two steps ahead; they just think one step ahead.

    Kristen Doerer: Ok, so don’t lie.

    Dan Ariely: It’s not just don’t lie, but also if you’re vague and you understand that people fill out the information in overoptimistic ways, even without lying, you will create disappointment. You want to eliminate ambiguity. People hope that you’ll talk to somebody online, they’ll fall in love with you, and when they meet you, they won’t care. It’s just not true.

    What effect does one’s salary have on a relationship?

    Kristen Doerer: You mentioned pay earlier. I’m curious what effect income and wealth have on a relationship or on a budding relationship.

    Dan Ariely: In terms of relationships, we’re just starting to look at this, but here are my thoughts so far. Relationships are complex and multidimensional: there is how much you care for the other person, how much they care for you, who takes care of their kids, who takes care of the house, all kinds of things. And one of them is salary. But from all of those dimensions, which is the easiest one to measure? It’s salary.

    So you could be in a relationship, and let’s just say for simplicity there are 10 dimensions of the relationship. Let’s say one person makes more money, and the other person is better on all other nine attributes. The money is going to be salient and precise, it has decimals. We know that in general, every time a dimension has decimals and precision, it’s given too much weight. So I think salary has a non-ideal weight in the relationship. And when there’s a salary imbalance in either direction, I think it creates tremendous unhappiness.

    Actually, I have a friend who makes substantially more than her husband, and she told me that for years she was pissed off with it. So much so, she was thinking about ending the relationship. It just seemed terrible for her. By the way, it probably seemed terrible to him as well, but I didn’t talk to him about it. At some point, she was thinking about all the other things he was doing in the relationship, and she tried to quantify it. All of a sudden, she realized she’s actually the smaller contributor in the relationship. It wasn’t as clear, because money was so clear, so salient and so measurable.

    How to be a meddling friend

    Kristen Doerer: One of the people here asked, “How can meddling friends use behavioral economics to help their picky friends who don’t seem to like anyone they date?” So how can you help a friend who just seems to be too picky?

    Dan Ariely: One way, of course, is social proof — the idea that you do what other people are doing. So let’s say you have a female friend who you want to make less picky and you see this guy. You could tell her how amazing you find him and that you are thinking, “If only I wasn’t married. I’m really interested.” You can show her that lots of other women, who are like her, are interested in him. That is social proof.

    Another approach is what is called the “foot in the door.” The foot in the door is when you do something small, and afterwards, you ask yourself why you did this thing. You tell yourself, “Oh, I must be the kind of person who does X, Y or Z.” So how do you get your friend to make one step toward that man? You say, “Let’s buy him a drink.” And if he says yes, then afterwards your friend would say, “Why did I buy this person a drink? I must be interested in him.”

    Another approach, of course, is to help the guy play hard to get. So you know the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance? In the original experiment, social psychologist Leon Festinger got people to screw bolts into boards for a very long time. He pays some of them very little, $1, and he pays some of them a lot, $20. And then each group was asked how much they like it, whether they would recommend it to another friend and so on. Now, the people who got paid $20 said, “The task was boring, I got paid a lot, that’s fine.” The people who got $1 said, “The task was boring, but I got paid a dollar. So why did I do it?”

    You can’t change what you’ve done — you can’t change the fact that you did it for an hour. It creates a dissonance: “I did it for an hour for no money, how can that be?” And then they said, “It must mean that the task is quite interesting.” Therefore, they elevated their understanding of how interesting it was to justify their actions.

    Kristen Doerer: So that’s the same thing with people to a degree.

    Dan Ariely: That’s right. So if somebody plays hard to get, at some point you say to yourself, “How do I feel about them? Look at me, I’ve been chasing them for such a long time, I must really love them.”

    And another thing, another direction — all of this depends on how meddling you want to be — we often don’t know the causes of our emotions. There’s an old question in psychology: Do we run because we’re afraid, or are we afraid because we run? So imagine that you’re in the jungle and you see a lion, and you start running. Did you first have fear, and then you started running? Or was your running so instinctual that you started running, and then you asked yourself, “Why am I running? I must be afraid.” There’s actually quite a lot of evidence that our interpretation of our emotions comes later. So if you want to be meddling, you can ask yourself: how can I create an emotional state in my friend and get your friend to feel that this is because of the guy?

    Kristen Doerer: That is pretty clever.

    Dan Ariely: So you could get them tipsy, you can get them some spicy food so their tongues will sweat, you could take them to a frightening movie or on a roller coaster, and they think “Oh, it must be because I’m really excited about this guy.” You can do all kinds of things to create an emotional state, and as long as they will attribute it to this other guy, that would help.

    Relationships in a world with so many options

    Kristen Doerer: To go back to that what you were saying about how it pays to play hard to get, my question for you is, in a world with so many options — think about Tinder, online dating or just in general — people tend to lose interest very quickly. So does it still work to the same degree when you have this saturation?

    Dan Ariely: This world in which we have so many outside options is certainly not an easy world. Let’s say you wake up next to your significant other every day, you look at them and you open Tinder at the same time. You see the good things in the person next to you, but you also see the bad things. You’ve seen them wake up with morning breath, and they don’t always put the toilet seat up, etc. But the people on Tinder are kind of perfect, right? So when you’re dealing with somebody whose flesh and blood next to you, you see more of their wrinkles.

    So I think as long as you’re dating somebody and you keep the half an eye open for others, this is really a problem. Because you’ll keep on asking yourself all the time: Is this good enough? And when you go on online dating, humanity looks amazing; everybody’s so wonderful and thoughtful and loves poetry and running and hiking. I think if you date and still remain online at the same time, that’s a really bad recipe for success.

    There’s a beautiful paper by Dan Gilbert about this. In this experiment, people learn how to shoot film, pictures. And one group, they say, “Hey, pick the picture you like the most, we’ll send it to England to be developed and we’ll get it back to you in two weeks.” And people picked their favorites and they tell them they sent them to England and two weeks later they give them the big pictures and ask, “How much do you like it?” Another group did the same thing, but researchers say, “We’re sending it to England to develop it, but in two weeks when you get it you could decide to change your mind.” Two weeks later when they give them the picture, nobody wants to change their mind, but when they ask them how much they like the picture, they like it less.

    Why? Because the first group of people said this is my picture, let me kind of learn how to deal with it. I’ll just focus on how wonderful it is. The other people kept on asking themselves, “Do I really like this?” And this is kind of the Tinder world in which you’re dating one person but you keep on asking yourself do I want to date another person? From that perspective, the world of arranged marriages has some advantages.

    I’m not recommending we go back to this, but we do need to recognize that the freedom to change our mind all the time is also lack of commitment. So imagine that you woke every morning next to your significant other, and imagine that your relationship was one day at a time. Every morning you wake up, you look at each other in the eyes and say, “What do you say, another day? Yes, no?” In this kind of relationship, how much would you invest in the other person?

    Kristen Doerer: Not a lot.

    Dan Ariely: That’s right. If you understand that a relationship is a dynamic thing and the quality of the relationship depends on your investment, that means that keeping an eye on Tinder, for example, limits your ability to invest in it.

    Back to your question about playing hard to get, I think that playing hard to get is a good strategy. Now, you might lose some people from time to time. But I think that you want to play hard to get continuously, and I don’t mean in a bad way. I think that people need to continuously pursue each other romantically. Taking each other for granted is just death for romance.

    Questions you should ask on a first date

    Kristen Doerer: In your Google Talk you joked, what really makes a first date interesting is going over each other’s resumes. In other words, people were asking all these bland questions — Where did you go to school? How many siblings do you have? — which don’t really promote any real connection. So I’m curious, if a couple’s on a date, what are three questions that you would suggest they ask each other?

    Dan Ariely: So you know these 36 questions that psychologists use? Those are not bad questions. You want questions that get both people to think. If you think about the principles we’ve talked about, you want both people to be engaged, you don’t want one person to just repeat something they know by heart. You want them actually to be thinking about something. Also, if you think about this idea of arousal, asking things that are challenging and interesting and private can actually increase arousal and intimacy. Questions I would ask, for example, is: What was the mistake that you’ve made that you’ve learned the most from in your life? It’s not easy to come up with, it’s likely embarrassing, and it certainly would be interesting for both parties.

    Divorce rates and wealth

    Kristen Doerer: There was a study that came out about two years ago about divorce rates. According to the study, spending $2,000 to $4,000 dollars on an engagement ring was associated with an increase in the risk of divorce, but then again, the more wealth, the greater likelihood that the couple will stay together. The other thing that the study showed was the bigger the wedding, the less likely a couple will divorce, but the more expensive the wedding, the more likely a couple will divorce.

    Dan Ariely: The problem, of course, is those studies are correlational. But let’s talk about weddings for a second. I think a lot about weddings has to do with the contract you have with society. By the way, two people, who read my blog or my books, asked me to officiate their wedding.

    Kristen Doerer: Did you do it?

    Dan Ariely: Of course. I got ordained for that purpose, I flew to New York and I conducted the wedding. It was great. It gave me some time to think about it from a contract perspective. Think about it, what contract do you sign in front of a lot of people? It’s a wedding. Nothing else. And I think the reason we sign it in front of other people is because we understand it’s not just between two people, it’s across society. And we need the help of a lot of other people to make this work. And I think this element, the more people you include in the wedding, the stronger your social tie is to this wedding. So I think that’s one thing.

    The money part is basically the wrong emphasis. The money part is a transactional element. I think even just having the discussions about ring size and cost, it’s not as bad as a prenuptial, but it’s kind of the wrong way to start a relationship.

    [Watch Video]

    And if you think about what a prenuptial is, it’s basically a violation of the social contract. You have this contract that says, “You know what, we’re not really going to worry about the details that much. We’re just going to basically go into this agreement with good faith that we’ll worry about each other’s benefit in the long term. And we don’t know exactly how it will work, and things will fluctuate over time, and we can’t even conceive of all the possibilities of where these things will go, but we’ll just make it work.”

    But the prenuptial kind of violates that. I think a wedding ring doesn’t violate it necessarily, but the moment you make a wedding ring 3 or 6 months of your salary, it kind of gets into that direction of making it a financial contract rather than a social contract.

    Kristen Doerer: And they found a correlation between less wealth divorce rates.

    Dan Ariely: Couples with lower incomes are more likely to get divorced, yes.

    Kristen Doerer: Is that just because of the stresses that poverty can put on a couple?

    Dan Ariely: Absolutely, yes. There was actually a really sad study showing that in the U.S., couples try to move to places with good schools, because they want to give their kids a good education. They basically push their budget trying to move to as good a place as they can to give their kids the best education possible. And in the process, they increase bankruptcy, domestic violence and divorce rates. It’s sad. And you know partly, it is that the American education system, which is funded by local schools, that is creating this terrible incentive. If you’re a parent and you care about your kids, you’re basically going to sacrifice a lot. Financial stress is a huge part of unhappiness in relationships.

    The post Why playing hard to get works and other dating lessons from behavioral economics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Capitol Hill police officers lower the U.S. flag at the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 13, 2016. Conservative Justice Scalia, 79, has died, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. The San Antonio News-Express said Scalia had apparently died of natural causes while visiting a luxury resort in West Texas.   REUTERS/Carlos Barria      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX26TFV

    Capitol Hill police officers lower the U.S. flag at the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. after the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 13, 2016. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A procession of law enforcement officers early Sunday escorted the body of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to a funeral home in El Paso, Texas, where officials are waiting to hear whether an autopsy will be performed.

    Chris Lujan, a manager for Sunset Funeral Homes, said about 20 law enforcement officers arrived early Sunday morning at the funeral home. The procession traveled more than three hours from the West Texas resort ranch where Scalia, 79, was found dead in his room Saturday morning. Lujan said if an autopsy is requested by Scalia’s family or ordered by a justice of the peace, then an El Paso County medical examiner would likely perform it at the funeral home.

    As the flags fly lower, the campaign-year political heat has risen over the vacancy on the nine-member court.

    Tentative plans call for Scalia’s body to be flown on Tuesday back home to his family in a northern Virginia suburb. President Barack Obama has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the Supreme Court, where Scalia served for three decades, and other federal buildings throughout the nation and U.S. embassies and military installations throughout the world.

    As the flags fly lower, the campaign-year political heat has risen over the vacancy on the nine-member court.

    At issue is whether Obama, in his last year in office, should offer a nomination and the Republican-led Senate should consider his choice for confirmation in an election year.

    Obama pledges a nomination “in due time.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., thinks it should wait for the next president. The Republican resistance to an election-year confirmation got a thorough public airing on the GOP debate stage just hours after Scalia’s companions found him dead in his room at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in West Texas.

    Republicans argued that Obama, as a lame duck, should not fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death but leave it to the next president – which they hope will be one of them.

    The Constitution gives the Senate “advise and consent” powers over a presidential nomination to the Supreme Court. Ted Cruz, one of the two GOP senators running for president, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the GOP-controlled Senate is doing its job.

    Graphic by Reuters

    Graphic by Reuters

    “We’re advising that a lame-duck president in an election year is not going to be able to tip the balance of the Supreme Court,” Texas’ Cruz said.

    Retorted Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Denver: Obama “is president of the United States until Jan 20, 2017. That is a fact, my friends, whether the Republicans like it or not.”

    “Let’s get on with it,” said Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders, arguing that the Senate should vote on whoever Obama nominates.

    Republicans insisted that refraining from Supreme Court confirmations in election years is a longtime precedent.

    In fact, Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 3, 1988, in the final year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, by a 97-0 vote. That was a presidential election year. Kennedy was nominated in 1987 and confirmed the next year.

    The example of Kennedy, who is still on the court, shows that presidents in their last year aren’t always powerless in shaping the court – and not shy about trying.

    Warren reported from Dallas.

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    Republican U.S. presidential candidates Senator Ted Cruz (L) and businessman Donald Trump directly debate each other at the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)   - RTX26TUW

    Senator Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump debate each other at the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    GREENVILLE, S.C. — Republican presidential candidates jousted over immigration and foreign policy in a raucous debate that was shaken by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia hours before they took the stage.

    Scalia’s death thrust the future of the high court into the center of a heated presidential campaign. In their debate Saturday night, the GOP candidates insisted that President Barack Obama step aside and let his successor nominate Scalia’s replacement instead, a position the White House vigorously opposed.

    Among the contenders, only Jeb Bush said Obama had “every right” to nominate a justice during his final year in office. The former Florida governor said the presidency must be a strong office – though he added that he didn’t expect Obama to pick a candidate who could win consensus support.

    The five other candidates on the stage urged the Republican-led Senate to block any attempts by the president to get his third nominee on the court.

    The five other candidates on the stage urged the Republican-led Senate to block any attempts by the president to get his third nominee on the court.

    “It’s up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it,” Donald Trump said. “It’s called delay, delay, delay.”

    A debate that began with a moment of silence for Scalia devolved quickly into fighting between Trump and Bush, then between Trump and Cruz. The exchanges highlighted the bad blood between the billionaire businessman and his rivals as the race turns to South Carolina, a state known for rough-and-tumble politics, where the next Republican primary will take place in one week.

    Trump, repeatedly interrupting his rivals, lashed out at Cruz after the Texas senator challenged his conservative credentials, calling him the “single-biggest liar” and a “nasty guy.” The real estate mogul also accused Bush of lying about Trump’s business record and said Bush’s brother – former President George W. Bush – lied to the public about the Iraq war.

    Bush, who has been among the most aggressive Republican candidates in taking on Trump, said that while he didn’t mind the businessman criticizing him – “It’s blood sport for him” – he was “sick and tired of him going after my family.”

    Trump was jeered lustily by the audience in Greenville, South Carolina, a state where the Bush family is popular with Republicans. George W. Bush plans to campaign with his brother in Charleston Monday, making his first public foray into the 2016 race.

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich sought to inject the election’s high stakes into the discussion in the midst of the fiery exchanges between his competitors.

    “I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this,” Kasich said.

    The governor’s warnings did little to deter his feisty colleagues.

    Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio also revived their fight over immigration, with the Texas senator haranguing his Florida counterpart for sponsoring failed legislation that would have created a pathway to citizenship for many of those in the United States illegally. Cruz also accused Rubio of taking a more moderate approach when speaking to Spanish-language media in an attempt to appeal to Hispanics.

    “I don’t know how he knows what I said on Univision – he doesn’t speak Spanish,” Rubio shot back.

    Rubio entered the debate under immense pressure following his disappointing fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. He stumbled badly in a debate days before that vote.

    Rubio appeared more fluid in Saturday’s contest, including during a robust defense of his proposed 25 percent corporate tax rate – which is not as much of a tax cut as many of his rivals are pitching. Rubio said his idea would leave enough revenue in the federal budget to triple the child tax credit for working families with children.

    Just six contenders took the debate stage, far from the long line of candidates who participated in earlier GOP events. Yet the Republican race remains deeply uncertain, with party elites still hoping that one of the more mainstream candidates will rise up to challenge Trump and Cruz. Many GOP leaders believe both would be unelectable in November.

    Scalia’s sudden death – and the chance to replace him – could serve as a reminder for voters of the consequences of elections.

    Cruz cast the moment in stark terms, saying allowing another Obama nominee to be approved would amount to Republicans giving up control of the Supreme Court for a generation.

    “One of the most important judgments for the men and women of South Carolina to make is who on this stage has the background, the principle, the character, the judgment and the strength of resolve to nominate and confirm principled constitutionalists to the court,” Cruz said.

    Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is fighting to stay in the mix in South Carolina. He was overshadowed in the debate by his more aggressive rivals but lined up with most of the field in saying he agreed Republicans should not allow a Supreme Court justice to be appointed during Obama’s final year in office.

    Bush and Kasich both see an opening in South Carolina after Rubio’s stumbles.

    Kasich defended himself against attacks on his conservative credentials, particularly his decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio despite resistance from his GOP-led Legislature. Kasich argued that his decision was a good deal for the state in the long run.

    “We want everyone to rise and we will make them personally responsible for the help they get,” said Kasich, whose fledgling campaign gained new life after a second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary.

    This report was written by Julie Pace and Will Weissert of the Associated Press. Pace reported from Washington.

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    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivers remarks at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, March 14, 2005. Introducing Scalia was Lee Hamilton, vice-chairman of the 9-11 Commission. Scalia spoke to guests at the Woodrow Wilson Center on "Constitutional Interpretation." REUTERS/Shaun Heasley  SH - RTR4ZWA

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivers remarks at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, March 14, 2005. Scalia’s death deprives conservatives of a key vote that could change the outcome in some major Supreme Court cases. Photo by Shaun Heasley/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Justice Antonin Scalia’s death deprives conservatives of a key vote that could change the outcome in some major Supreme Court cases, including one in which labor unions appeared headed for a big defeat.

    Next month’s Supreme Court arguments in a clash over contraceptives, religious liberty and President Barack Obama’s health care law also now seem more likely to favor the Obama administration.

    Those are the most immediate effects on the court of the loss of its conservative icon and longest-serving justice.

    It’s a firm Supreme Court rule that decisions are not final until they are handed down. So nothing Scalia did or said in pending cases matters to the outcome.

    “The vote of a deceased justice does not count,” veteran Supreme Court lawyer Roy Englert said Sunday, a day after Scalia was found dead in his room at a west Texas ranch.

    Subtracting Scalia’s vote from cases in which he was in the majority in a 5-4 split leaves the result tied, four a side.

    The remaining eight justices have two options in that situation: They can vote to hear the case a second time when a new colleague joins them or they can hand down a one-sentence opinion that upholds the result reached in the lower court without setting a nationwide rule.

    A second round of arguments seems less likely at the moment because a new justice may not be confirmed until the next president is in office.

    A tie vote, by contrast, resolves the case at hand and allows the legal issue to return to the court at a later date when there is a ninth justice.

    Public sector labor unions had been bracing for a stinging defeat in a lawsuit over whether they can collect fees from government workers who choose not to join the union. The case affects more than 5 million workers in 23 states and Washington, D.C., and seeks to overturn a nearly 40-year-old Supreme Court decision.

    Now, what seemed like a certain 5-4 split, with the conservatives in the majority and the liberals in dissent, instead looks like a tie that would be resolved in favor of the unions, because they won in the lower courts.

    “That’s a big loss. It was all teed up and it looks like it’s not going to go anywhere now,” said Brian Fitzpatrick, a Vanderbilt University law professor who once served as a law clerk to Scalia.

    Another case in which there now seems little chance of finding a court majority to upset long-standing practice involves a conservative challenge to the way governments have drawn electoral districts for 50 years.

    The court heard arguments in December in a case from Texas on the meaning of the principle of “one person, one vote,” which the court has said requires that political districts be roughly equal in population.

    But it has left open the question of whether states must count all residents, including noncitizens and children, or only eligible voters in drawing district lines.

    U.S. Supreme Court Justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts (L), arrive in the House chamber prior to U.S. President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016. Evan Vucci/Reuters

    U.S. Supreme Court Justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, arrive in the House chamber prior to U.S. President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016.  Photo by Evan Vucci/Reuters

    The court’s upcoming look at the health care overhaul will be its fourth case involving the 2010 law. This time, the focus is on the arrangement the Obama administration worked out to spare faith-based hospitals, colleges and charities from paying for contraceptives for women covered under their health plans, while still ensuring that those women can obtain birth control at no extra cost as the law requires.

    The faith-based groups argue that the accommodation still makes them complicit in providing contraception to which they have religious objections.

    A tie vote here would sow rather than alleviate confusion because the appellate courts that have looked at the issue have not all come out the same way.

    That prospect suggests that Justice Anthony Kennedy will join the court’s four liberal justices to uphold the arrangement, Supreme Court lawyer Thomas Goldstein said.

    Other big cases before the justices this term include affirmative action, abortion and immigration.

    With Justice Elena Kagan out of the affirmative action case, the court still is more likely to rule, 4-3, in favor of a challenge to the consideration of race in admissions to the University of Texas.

    On abortion and immigration, a 4-4 tie would sustain lower court rulings in favor of Texas’ regulation of abortion clinics and a Republican-led challenge to an Obama administration plan to allow millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally to avoid deportation and acquire work permits.

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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Denver, Colorado, United States, February 13, 2016.   REUTERS/Jim Young - RTX26TXW

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Denver, Colorado, United States, Feb. 13, 2016. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The presidential election just got real.

    The unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – and the immediate declaration from Republicans that the next president should nominate his replacement – adds even more weight to the decision voters will make in November’s general election.

    For months, the candidates have espoused theoretical, sometimes vague, policy proposals. Now, the prospect of President Barack Obama’s successor nominating a Supreme Court justice immediately after taking office offers a more tangible way for voters to evaluate the contenders.

    Candidates in both parties moved quickly to reframe the election as a referendum on the high court’s future.

    “Two branches of government hang in the balance, not just the presidency, but the Supreme Court,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said in the latest GOP debate, held in South Carolina just hours after word filtered out Saturday about Scalia’s death in Texas. “If we get this wrong, if we nominate the wrong candidate, the Second Amendment, life, marriage, religious liberty, every one of those hangs in the balance.”

    Candidates in both parties moved quickly to reframe the election as a referendum on the high court’s future.

    Democratic Hillary Clinton painted a similarly stark scenario.

    “If any of us needed a reminder of just how important it is to take back the United States Senate and hold onto the White House, just look at the Supreme Court,” Clinton said.

    Clinton has said she would have “a bunch of litmus tests” for potential nominees, including a belief that the Citizens United ruling clearing the way for super political action committees and unlimited campaign contributions should be overturned. She also said the court’s makeup is crucial to preserving abortion rights and the legality of gay marriage nationwide.

    Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination, has raised opposition to Citizens United as a requirement for any Supreme Court nominees.

    Scalia, a hero of conservatives during his nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court, was found dead Saturday at a resort ranch in Texas. The court now is divided between four liberal and four typically conservative justices, putting the ideological tilt up for grabs.

    Obama pledged to nominate a replacement in “due time,” even after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that responsibility should fall to the winner of the 2016 election.

    Obama could try to ram a nominee through the Senate this year, taking a high court vacancy off the next president’s immediate to-do list. Even if that were to happen, a confirmation vote probably would be months away, leaving the Supreme Court in the center of the campaign during the nomination process.

    With three other justices over the age of 75, the next president could have other vacancies during his or her tenure, even if Obama fills Scalia’s seat.

    It’s unclear how the new focus on the Supreme Court might affect voters’ decisions in an election that has seen surprising and unconventional candidates such as Donald Trump and Sanders challenge their parties’ establishments.

    Previous political thunderbolts that were supposed to push voters toward more traditional candidates, such as last fall’s terrorist attacks in Paris and California, passed without any negative impact on Trump and Sanders. In fact, Sanders has strengthened since then, with the economic-focused Vermont senator handily defeating Clinton in the New Hampshire primary and finishing a close second in the Iowa caucuses.

    Trying to counter Sanders’ momentum, Clinton has urged voters to consider which candidate is most electable in November. With the balance of the Supreme Court now potentially on the line, Clinton and her allies are certain to increase their warnings about the risk of sending a self-declared democratic socialist to face a Republican in the fall.

    “For any Democrat thinking about casting a protest vote for Sen. Sanders, this should serve as a wake-up call for what’s exactly at stake,” said Jim Manley, a former aide to top Democratic senators.

    Among Republicans, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich are casting themselves as candidates who could appeal to swing voters in the general election and put the GOP in position to guide the next court nominations. But that could open them up to questions from Republican primary voters about the ideological purity of their judicial choices.

    Cruz is using the potential vacancy to build on his long-standing argument that Republicans should select a nominee with the most conservative credentials. An uncompromising conservative since arriving in the Senate, Cruz vowed to put “principled constitutionalists” on the Supreme Court. He contends Trump could not be trusted to do the same.

    “Donald Trump is president, he will appoint liberals,” said Cruz, noting the billionaire’s past support for Democratic politicians.

    Trump was alone among the candidates is naming specific justices he would consider nominating. He singled out Diane Sykes and William Pryor, federal judges appointed by former President George W. Bush.

    During Saturday’s debate, Kasich bemoaned that Washington and presidential candidates had “run so fast into politics” following Scalia’s death.

    But if anything, the speed at which politics did take over portends a furious fight to come over which candidate gets to put his or her imprint on the court.

    This report was written by Julie Pace of the Associated Press. AP writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

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    Afghan security forces arrive at the Kunduz airport, April 30, 2015. The Afghan army and police on Thursday failed to expel Taliban fighters from the outskirts of a besieged provincial capital as a seventh day of fierce fighting put pressure on national forces struggling largely without U.S. military backup. A new United Nations report states the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2015 set records. Many who were killed or injured were centered around the city of Kunduz. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani       TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1AZC8

    Afghan security forces arrive at the Kunduz airport, April 30, 2015.  A new United Nations report states the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan during 2015 set records. Many who were killed or injured were centered around the city of Kunduz. Omar Sobhani/Reuters

    More than 3,500 noncombatants died in Afghanistan during 2015, and nearly 7,500 were injured, the highest number of civilian casualties recorded since 2009 amid the country’s unceasing conflicts, according to a report released Sunday by the United Nations.

    About 25 percent of those who were killed or wounded were children, a statistic the UN called “unprecedented.”

    A wounded Afghan boy, who survived a U.S. air strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, receives treatment at the Emergency Hospital in Kabul October 8, 2015. The airstrike killed at least 42 patients and staff. Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

    A wounded Afghan boy, who survived a U.S. air strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, receives treatment at the Emergency Hospital in Kabul October 8, 2015. The airstrike killed at least 42 patients and staff. Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

    Ground fighting, improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks in the vicinity of populated urban areas of Afghanistan were behind the high number of noncombatant deaths and injuries, according to figures cited in the 2015 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, which was made public by the UN Human Rights Office.

    “The harm done to civilians is totally unacceptable,” said Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, who leads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. “We call on those inflicting this pain on the people of Afghanistan to take concrete action to protect civilians and put a stop to the killing and maiming of civilians in 2016.”

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    Most of the carnage took place in northeastern and central Afghanistan, and much could be attributed to multiple battles between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in the vicinity of the Kunduz, a city of more than 200,000.

    An October strike by Unites States war planes on a Doctors Without Borders facility also was a factor in the number of civilian casualties, the report said.

    After decades of conflict among government and western forces and insurgent factions, more than 60 percent of the 2015 figures were caused by anti-government groups and 17 percent by forces loyal to the Afghan government.

    Combined, the number of deaths and injuries totaled more than 11,000 civilians, a number that has risen ever year since 2009 for a total of nearly 59,000 victims.

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

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    Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) Senator Marco Rubio, businessman Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz walk the stage during a commercial break at the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)   - RTX26TRH

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The death of Justice Scalia was the focus of the start of last night’s presidential debate among the six Republican candidates in South Carolina, where the next primary will be held next Saturday.

    The Republicans were united in calling on Senate leaders to block any Supreme Court nomination by President Obama.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Candidate: I think it’s up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It’s called delay, delay, delay.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ted Cruz underscored the stakes of this court vacancy for conservatives.

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Presidential Candidate: We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will strike down every restriction on abortion adopted by the states. We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will reverse the Heller decision, one of Justice Scalia’s seminal decisions that upheld the Second Amendment right to keep and to bear arms.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On foreign policy, Jeb Bush again said the Obama administration has failed to contain ISIS.

    JEB BUSH (R), Presidential Candidate: It’s a complete, unmitigated disaster. And to allow Russia now to have influence in Syria makes it harder, but we need to destroy ISIS and dispose of Assad to create a stable Syria, so that the four million refugees aren’t a breeding ground for Islamic jihadists.

    DONALD TRUMP: Jeb is so wrong.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But Donald Trump disagreed that Russian President Vladimir Putin could not be an ally in that fight.

    DONALD TRUMP: That’s why we’ve been in the Middle East for 15 years, and we haven’t won anything. We’ve spent $5 trillion in the Middle East because of thinking like that.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Bush rebutted Trump’s attacks on his father and brother’s handling of the region during their presidencies.

    JEB BUSH: I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JEB BUSH: And while Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I’m proud of what he did.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JEB BUSH: And he has had the gall to go after my brother.

    DONALD TRUMP: The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that.

    (BOOING)

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: To help us fact-check the debate, I am joined from Washington by Jon Greenberg of PolitiFact, an independent, nonpartisan project overseen by The Tampa Bay Times.

    Jon, the death of Scalia was announced only a few hours before the candidates took the stage last night, but all the Republicans running said President Obama shouldn’t nominate someone this election year, and, if he did, the Republicans said that the Senate should block it.

    Here’s how Marco Rubio put it.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Presidential Candidate: I do not believe the president should appoint someone. And it’s not unprecedented. In fact, it has been over 80 years since a lame duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is Rubio right, 80 years since a similar situation has occurred?

    JON GREENBERG, PolitiFact: You know, the number 80 years was kicking around really fast in the Twittersphere right before the debate.

    And the problem with using that number, aside from the fact it is a little bit off no matter how you look at it, the problem is, is that Rubio used the term lame duck president. And so when you have got a president who is term-limited, so they are in their second term, all you have to do is go back to Ronald Reagan in 1987 and ’88 — 88 is an election year.

    And in 1987, Ronald Reagan nominates Anthony Kennedy to be on the Supreme Court. And he, Kennedy is then confirmed in ’88. So there is Reagan. He’s clearly on his way out. He doesn’t know who his successor is. And he puts somebody on the Supreme Court. That really is quite recent, in relative terms. And so Rubio is mostly false on this one.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Mostly false. OK.

    In the foreign policy section of the debate last night, New Hampshire primary winner Donald Trump, who has never held public office, said, as he has before, that he opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    Here is what he said.

    DONALD TRUMP: I’m the only one on this stage that said, “Do not go into Iraq. Do not attack Iraq.” Nobody else on this stage said that. And I said it loud and strong. And I was in the private sector. I wasn’t a politician.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Jon, is that right? Is there any proof that Trump said that back in 2003?

    JON GREENBERG: No, he didn’t say it, so far as we know, going through transcripts and records, that he said it before the war.

    About three months before we actually invaded — so, really, there was a big run-up there when there were protests and so forth — he was interviewed on FOX News. He was asked, oh, well, what is up with President Bush? Should he focus more on Iraq? Should he focus more on the economy?

    And the most that Trump said is, well, you know, perhaps maybe we should wait for the U.N. to get on board here, but, really, the economy is where he should focus his attention.

    And it wasn’t until a week after the invasion that he said in some brief interview that it was a mess. And it was about a year after the invasion that it really — he really came down hard.

    So, in terms of how forcefully he put it, Trump really did rate false. He wasn’t loud and clear before the invasion about all the bad things that would happen, at least in terms of any record that we can find.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right.

    Last one. John Kasich, in his second term as Ohio’s governor, touted his economic record, cutting taxes, growing jobs, and balancing the budget. Here’s what he said.

    GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), Presidential Candidate: What I would tell you is, we’ve gone from an $8 billion hole to a $2 billion surplus.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, Jon, how did that check out? Did Kasich turn Ohio’s deficit into a surplus?

    JON GREENBERG: Well, aside from the fact that you really can’t give John Kasich credit for everything — big economic trends play a big role here — still, the numbers basically do work out, because there was a projected $8 billion deficit.

    And then, by 2015, the state’s rainy day fund said, hey, we have got $2 billion to tide us over. That certainly counts as a surplus. So, yes, Mr. Kasich gets it right.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Jon Greenberg from PolitiFact, as always, thanks so much.

    JON GREENBERG: My pleasure.

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    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell listens as U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a luncheon for bi-partisan Congressional leaders in the Old Family Dining Room at the White House in Washington, November 7, 2014.     REUTERS/Larry Downing   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4DANC

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Obama’s term expires in 342 days, and, on average, his two Supreme Court picks, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, required 76 days from nomination to confirmation.

    So, the president has the time and, he says, the desire to appoint someone new. But, already, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he’s not inclined to schedule confirmation hearings or a vote for a new nominee, because he says the vacancy should be filled by the next president, not the current one.

    For more on this brewing showdown, I’m joined from Washington by the “NewsHour”‘s political director, Lisa Desjardins.

    Lisa, welcome. Thanks for being here.

    We saw already, just a few hours after Scalia’s passing, the partisan fight started to break out. From your perspective, how big of a showdown do you think this is going to be?

    LISA DESJARDINS: This is a massive showdown, William.

    It’s going to affect Congress. It is going to affect the presidential election. It is really a great tremor in American politics, not only because of the court cases that I know you and our viewers are familiar with, but because of the divide in Congress itself.

    And I think Mitch McConnell coming down so quickly, as you said, indicating that he ask not even going to receive a nomination from a sitting president is really a declaration of political war. And now the White House has to consider how it’s going to respond.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, can the Republicans, if they so choose, really block a nominee? If Obama puts someone forward, can they really block that nominee for virtually an entire year?

    LISA DESJARDINS: They absolutely can.

    Under Senate procedure, under Senate rules, it requires, first of all, now three-fifths, or 60 votes, for nominations of Supreme Court judges to move forward. But then to even get past that, it requires a basic majority vote of the Senate to approve any Supreme Court nominee. Since they have a few votes more than a majority, Senate Republicans have the power to block any nominee they so choose.

    And, you know, what I think has happened in the past here, William, is there’s been sort of compromise choices perhaps, behind-the-scenes negotiations, but in an election year, where Republicans think they have a very strong shot at winning the presidency, and then, moreover, William, at potentially losing the Senate, they realize that they think their best shot to get another seat on the Supreme Court is to wait and delay this as much as possible.

    The president now has a sort of tricky political game to play. Does he come up with the nominee that seems completely unfair for Republicans to not even consider, or does he do some — does he come up with a nominee who he really wants? And he’s got a number of options here. And it’s really not clear how this gets resolved any time soon.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Have we heard what Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have said about this yet?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right. No surprise, the two Democrats want the Democratic president to pick a Supreme Court justice and they want it approved. Bernie Sanders says the Constitution clearly gives the president this power.

    Hillary Clinton says the Republicans are outrageous, in her words. They’re pushing back very hard.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, Lisa, is there a precedent for this, for — for a Supreme Court fight to break out in the middle of an election year?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Well, this is what is fascinating, William.

    There is absolutely no modern precedent going back to the beginning of the 20th century for a Supreme Court justice dying in an election year, in which a president, a two-term president is retiring. So, you have the situation here that is unprecedented.

    We do have a couple of precedents in terms of vacancies in election years. For example, we had one with President Johnson, where he was trying to confirm Abe Fortas to be the chief justice of the Supreme Court. That was blocked until Richard Nixon became president.

    So, the Senate has acted to block a nominee. But, in that case, William, interestingly enough, the Supreme Court didn’t lose a member, because the sitting chief justice stayed, kept the seat. So, there really is not a precedent here for potentially an open seat for almost a year in between presidents. That would be something completely new.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right.

    The “NewsHour”‘s political director, Lisa Desjardins, thanks so much.

    LISA DESJARDINS: My pleasure.

    The post Supreme showdown: Replacing Scalia will put divided government to the test appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Supreme Court Justices gather for an official picture at the Supreme Court in Washington September 29, 2009. They are (front row, L-R) Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Justice John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas (2nd row, L-R) Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.   REUTERS/Jim Young   (UNITED STATES POLITICS CRIME LAW) - RTXP2UY

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The body of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is expected to be flown home to Virginia over the next 48 hours following his sudden death yesterday in Texas.

    To honor Scalia, President Obama ordered American flags to fly half-staff today at the Supreme Court in Washington and at federal buildings around the nation. Like so many other political leaders, President Obama has offered his condolences to Scalia’s family, but he’s also promising to fill the vacancy on the high court.

    In an early sign of a possible bitter confirmation battle ahead, the Senate Republican majority leader and Republicans running for president all say the Scalia vacancy should be filled only by the next president. When Scalia died yesterday of natural causes at age 79, he had been on the Supreme Court for 30 years.

    From the moment he took his seat on the high court in 1986, Scalia was a forceful, eloquent, and sometimes controversial voice for conservative issues. His influence and opinions extended into many areas of American life and politics.

    Scalia was in the 5-4 majority in Bush v. Gore, which ended the 2000 presidential election recount and sent George W. Bush to the White House. He also voted with the majority in striking down campaign finance laws as a restriction on free speech.

    Scalia shaped landmark majority decisions, like the Second Amendment case that enshrined the right of individuals to own a gun for self-defense, and cases affirming the Sixth Amendment right of criminal defendants to confront witnesses against them.

    Scalia was equally caustic and witty when he was on the losing side, often writing colorful dissents. He was in the minority when the court struck down a Virginia military academy’s policy of admitting only men, and decided Guantanamo prisoners could challenge their detention.

    He opposed decisions upholding abortion rights, same-sex marriage and President Obama’s health care plan. The cornerstone of Scalia’s legal philosophy was known as originalism, a strict interpretation of the Constitution as the framers wrote it in back in the 1780s.

    ANTONIN SCALIA, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court: They never took out these issues: abortion, homosexual conduct. Nobody ever thought that they had been included in the rights contained in the Bill of Rights, which is why abortion and homosexual sodomy were criminal for 200 years.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Scalia often said the Constitution wasn’t a — quote — “living document” to be reinterpreted by judges to fit changing times.

    In a 2012 interview with the “NewsHour”‘s Margaret Warner, Scalia explained his unwavering view of the Constitution.

    ANTONIN SCALIA: It doesn’t have to evolve over time. If it — if it was up to the courts to make it evolve over time, there wouldn’t have been a provision for amendment. It contains a provision of amendment precisely because the framers understood that they may find some provisions in the future are not good and additional provisions are needed.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Scalia was a devout Roman Catholic who leaves behind his wife, nine children, and 36 grandchildren. The only child of Italian immigrants, Scalia was proud of being the first Italian-American Supreme Court justice, as he told a 2015 PBS documentary.

    ANTONIN SCALIA: When my confirmation was final, I got cartloads of mail from Italian-Americans just expressing their pride in my appointment. I had no idea that it meant that much.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After growing up in Queens, New York, Scalia graduated first in his class at Georgetown University and then with high honors from Harvard Law School.

    MAN: Put your left hand on the Bible.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After working in the Justice Department and as a federal judge, Scalia reached the pinnacle of the legal profession when President Ronald Reagan nominated him to fill the vacancy left by retiring Chief Justice Warren Burger. The Senate confirmed him unanimously 98-0.

    When he died yesterday, Scalia was the longest serving of the nine Supreme Court justices.

    For more on Justice Scalia’s role and his influence on the court, I am joined from Washington, D.C., by Marcia Coyle, the chief Washington correspondent for “The National Law Journal,” and Jamal Greene, a professor and a vice dean at Columbia University Law School here in New York.

    Thank you both very much for being here.

    Marcia, I would like to start with you. Just give me your take on Scalia’s lasting legacy.

    MARCIA COYLE, “The National Law Journal”: Well, William, I think his legacy will be in several areas.

    First of all, and perhaps most importantly, is his approach to constitutional interpretation, as well as intention of statutes. He was, what he said, called himself, an originalist, in that when he interpreted the Constitution, he would look at how the words of the Constitution were understood at the time of the framers.

    He also was a textualist, meaning he would look at the words in the statute and, if the meaning was clear, that was the end for him. I think both approaches really have been taken to heart by a whole generation of young legal scholars and others as well, practitioners, even politicians.

    He was a force in conservative legal thought. And then also I think his legacy will be felt in certain areas where he led the court, for example, two areas. One, he reinvigorated the meaning of the confrontation clause in the Sixth Amendment. That is the clause that says a criminal defendant has the right to confront his or her accusers.

    He would accept no surrogates. The accuser — whoever, for example, tested the DNA blood in a case had to be there on the witness stand. And, secondly, he also reinvigorated the role of juries in trials, criminal trials. They were the fact-finders. They were the ones who had to — the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any facts that would increase a sentence.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Jamal Greene, I know you have said this in the past, that Scalia’s influence was really perhaps greatest outside of the court and less so on the actual rulings themselves.

    Can you explain why that’s the case?

    JAMAL GREENE, Vice Dean, Columbia University Law School: Well, he did have a number of majority opinions that he wrote that were significant, as Marcia mentioned, so in the area of the Second Amendment, in the area of the confrontation clause and so forth.

    But I think where Justice Scalia’s legacy really lies is in kind of popularizing constitutional theory. So, when we talk about originalism, we don’t just talk about it among law professors or just among judges. People and talk show hosts, journalists, politicians are talking the language of constitutional interpretation.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And this wasn’t a popular theory when he first came in.

    JAMAL GREENE: No.

    In fact, I think within the academy, we all thought it was dead in the middle of the 1980s. But he really played a major role in reinvigorating originalism, both within the academies — so there are lots of scholars now who call themselves originalists, including liberal scholars like Jack Balkin at Yale Law School, who is most famous for this — and outside of the academy, so that, at the Federalist Society, politicians talk about originalism as a kind of starting point in constitutional interpretation.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Marcia, I know one of the things that will be etched on his stone is his incredible wit and erudition and the relish he seemed to take in the intellectual jousting back and forth.

    You must have seen him argue many a time. What was it like?

    MARCIA COYLE: Oh, it was always fun, sometimes surprising, startling.

    You will find that lawyers who regularly argue before the court have said that he really created the model for oral argument. That was very vigorous, fast questioning. And, sometimes, his comments or questions could be quite barbed. He could direct those barbs to his colleagues as well.

    I know that whenever Justice Breyer, for example, mentioned legislative history and interpreting a law based on its legislative history, which Justice Scalia didn’t believe in, Scalia would send a barb over to Breyer. But Justice Breyer would just roll his eyes, like, here we go again.

    And his writing style,too, he will be remembered for. He really took great care in how he crafted his opinions, particularly his dissents, which he felt very strongly he was writing for the future.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Jamal Greene, this — if President Obama — and it is still a big if — if Obama gets to select the next justice, this could be a potentially seismic shift in the court, right?

    JAMAL GREENE: Maybe as big a shift as there has ever been in the court in terms of a single justice being replaced.

    Now, of course, the Senate Republicans will do their best to make sure that that doesn’t happen. But if you were to have President Obama pick a justice who was congenial to President Obama’s views of the Constitution and views about law, he would have one of the rightmost justices in the history of the court being replaced by someone on the left.

    And that’s — that would change any number of areas, some of which are dear to Justice Scalia’s heart. So, you think about the Second Amendment, for example, that would be — his ruling in District of Columbia vs. Heller would be in jeopardy were he to be replaced by someone on the left side of the court.

    Rulings like Citizens United could potentially be in jeopardy as well. So, you could have an enormous shift. But, of course, everyone knows what those stakes are. And so the Republicans will try their best to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Marcia, what about — I understand that some of the cases in the Supreme Court’s current term are as divisive as you can get. There is abortion. There is contraception. There is unions. There is immigration.

    What does his absence now mean for those cases going forward?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, it does create some difficult problems for the court. It all depends on what stage some of those cases were in.

    Generally, the justices sit down after oral argument rather quickly to take at least a preliminary vote on the outcome. If they — Justice Scalia voted on a case, and that case has not yet been publicly decided, his vote will be void. If it should leave a 4-4 split on the court and the court does issue a 4-4 decision, then the lower court’s ruling will stand.

    But it will set no precedent for the rest of the nation. It will only be a precedent in that particular court circuit. The justices also have the option of asking for a re-argument in certain cases. That has been done in the past.

    Depending on — for example, there are three cases that I’m going to be watching that have not even yet been argued, but also are very high-profile. The abortion case is scheduled for March 2. Another challenge to contraceptive health insurance is scheduled for the end of March. And then there’s the challenge to President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which probably will be argued in April.

    All those — those three cases also have the potential to divide 4-4. So there’s going to be some difficulty for the court. The court may find narrower ways to decide some of those cases in order to have a majority vote. We’re just going to have to wait to see.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Marcia Coyle, Jamal Greene, thank you both very much for being here.

    JAMAL GREENE: Thank you.

    MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, William.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Read remembrances and reactions to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Visit us online at PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post What legacy did Justice Scalia leave on the Supreme Court? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a question as she testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, on Capitol Hill in Washington October 22, 2015. Clinton deflected harsh Republican criticism of her handling of the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, at the testy hearing in Congress that seemed, at the time, unlikely to put a dent in the her campaign.  Photo by Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a question as she testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, on Capitol Hill in Washington October 22, 2015. Clinton deflected harsh Republican criticism of her handling of the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, at the testy hearing in Congress that seemed, at the time, unlikely to put a dent in the her campaign. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Three years on, and Hillary Clinton’s personal emails still loom large in political discussions. What started as an afterthought in a March 2013 article by Gawker blossomed into a full-blown scandal two years later, when The New York Times released the details surrounding her electronic correspondence as secretary of state. One sticking point: It took months for Clinton’s team to share her emails with the State Department, which should have been preserved from the get-go as a matter of federal record.

    Clinton wasn’t the first secretary of state to use a personal email account for work — the same Times story reported Colin Powell acted likewise — yet for her, the news has festered like a recurring back pimple on the campaign trail. Even during a debate two weeks ago, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd remarked to Clinton:

    …many Democratic voters that our reporters have been running into in Iowa and New Hampshire, they tell our reporters over and over again they’re worried about the emails issue, not because they don’t believe your explanation, but because it’s a drip-drip, because the cloud is hanging over your head and that it will impact the general election.

    They see your numbers right now and they think it’s the email issue as to why you’re not polling very well.

    Why have these emails taken so much fire? Some cite concerns about national security; others says it’s about trust, transparency and respect of the public record.

    But a first-of-its-kind study from psychologists at the Harvard Business School provides a nuanced alternative: What’s likely getting under people’s skins the most has to do with disclosure…specifically, the lack thereof. In a series of seven experiments comprising hundreds of subjects from across the nation, the researchers show that choosing to not disclose information is perceived as much worse than revealing secrets…even when those secrets involve highly unsavory circumstances.

    For example, when 126 random subjects had to pick between dating someone who doesn’t normally tell a partner about having a sexually transmitted disease versus someone who opted to not answer the question, most respondents — 64 percent — picked the former: a person who willingly neglected to tell the truth about his or her STD status. In others words, people prefer someone who admits to being unsavory over a person who merely avoids answering a question.

    science-wednesday

    Overall, people preferred others who admitted to foul deeds — like having fantasies of domestic violence or cheating on tax returns — 80 percent of time, versus those who hid information.

    “The thing that’s super surprising and novel is that people like someone who divulges extremely unsavory stuff — the lowest of the low — over someone who merely abstains from disclosing,” said Leslie John, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School led the study, which was published Jan. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    The implications extend beyond dating and politics and into job negotiation. If a potential employer asks if you’ve ever smoked a joint, do you mention those frat parties freshman year? Do you lie and hope no one stumbles across the salacious Facebook photos? Or should you respond: “I’d rather not say.”

    It’s a game of mental chess, and here are the pieces.

    Lying, opting out and the exhaustion of mental yoga

    “There’s lots of research on telling lies, but this study is a little bit different,” said University of California business psychologist Dana Carney, who wasn’t involved in the Harvard research. She said lies tend to fall into two categories: lies of commission and lies of omission. A lie of commission happens when a person tells a story that doesn’t follow real events, while a liar of omission fails to include details that should have been said.

    The scenario tested in the Harvard study resembles a lie of omission, Carney said, but with a big difference.

    The difference between unintentional and intentional hiding may appear subtle, but it leads to a 180-degree flip in effects.

    “Here you’re saying, I prefer not to answer. I’m not going to necessarily leave something out, but rather I’m going to refrain from engaging about this issue,” Carney said. “They don’t want to be faced with that choice, but it may be perceived as a willingness or intention to lie.”

    Consider what happened when 178 subjects pretended to be employers reviewing job applications from two potential hires. One candidate admitted to getting an F in school, while the other refrained from responding. This is a very strong test, John said, because there’s nothing worse than an F. In other words, the hider can’t be a less favorable candidate than the revealer, who for sure has the worst possible attribute.

    Yet employers picked the person who admitted to poor grades 89 percent of time. When asked why, the participants thought both candidates likely received a failing grade, but deemed opting out as less trustworthy.

    Example of the online survey taken in this Harvard Business School study on disclosure. Photo by John L, Barasz K, and Norton, MI. PNAS. 2016

    Example of the online survey taken in this Harvard Business School study on disclosure. Photo by John L, Barasz K, and Norton, MI. PNAS. 2016

    This preference for full disclosure may come from our distaste for mental taxation. “People are cognitive misers,” Carney said, an idea that comes from social psychology pioneers Susan Fiske and Shelley E. Taylor.

    “We’re mentally cheap. We want to spend as few resources as possible getting to know other people or making sense of them,” Carney said. “When a person opts out of answering questions, that makes me as a perceiver work harder to understand them.”

    Your mind is forced to solve an equation of “Are they concealing this information?” or “Do they just like being private?” or “Is there something else going on?”

    A mental tax in the case of opting out runs contrary to how people typically react, said Cait Lamberton, a social scientist who studies consumer behavior at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior work suggests when people don’t know details about others, they engage in something called “egocentric anchoring,” wherein they infer that the other person is a lot like them, she said.

    “In the dating context, people start with the assumption that others are like them, which gives first dates this sense of a magical, perfect match, but then progressively perceive more dissimilarity between themselves and others,” she said. “So, we usually expect that when we know less, we like more.”

    But the Harvard study picks up on something new. Leaving a blank space, figuratively or literally, opens the door even wider to distrust and distancing.

    “The difference between unintentional and intentional hiding may appear subtle, but it leads to a 180-degree flip in effects,” said Lamberton, who wasn’t involved in the Harvard study.

    So should you dish all of your secrets?

    Is the Department of State  brewing psychological distrust in the Clinton campaign by delaying the release of her email records? Photo by Larry Downing/REUTERS

    Is the Department of State brewing psychological distrust in the Clinton campaign by delaying the release of her email records? Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters

    One of the final experiments in the Harvard study examined how people’s instinct fared when faced with the choice between disclosing and opting out. Did they recognize that outsiders might view abstinence as problematic? They didn’t.

    The study had 103 people imagine that they had smoked marijuana and now faced a job application about prior drug use. The subject then had to pick between saying “yes” or choosing not to answer. Potential employees chose not to answer 70 percent of the time. On the flip side, a similarly sized panel of employers preferred a job applicant who replied “yes” and admitted to past drug activity.

    Readers shouldn’t view this result as a free license to yell out their deepest darkest secrets during a job interview, of course.

    “While employers may say that they’d rather know if their employees have engaged in certain acts in the past, and may personally like you better for being straightforward, that doesn’t mean that they’ll universally be motivated to hire you,” Lamberton said.

    Rather she and Carney view the study as first step into quantifying when it’s OK to be yourself.

    “If you’re constantly trying to manage other people’s impressions of you, by unlinking yourself from others pictures on Facebook for instance, that too has unintended consequences.”

    And this might be the fuel driving Clinton’s email scandal, Carney said.

    “When you’re a public figure, a personal situation occurs and the world doesn’t necessarily expect you to disclose because it’s a private matter, then opting out should be fine,” Carney said. “For example, the world has largely forgotten the Beyonce and Jay-Z elevator shenanigans from a few months ago. They made this one very light comment and it just went away. People lost interest.”

    By contrast, Clinton and her emails have national appeal because of what people think they might reveal, regardless of the contents of the emails. By the logic of this study, the State Department’s delayed and partial release of the emails likely adds to the public distrust of Clinton, too.

    “She used a personal account, so it’s of interest to us because of national security, but also because it helps us understand her as a potential leader of our country,” Carney said.

    Or are they, Bernie?

    Or are they, Bernie?

    Lamberton offered as a counterpoint, the Bernie Sanders campaign’s admission that they engaged in electronic trespassing of sorts in Hillary Clinton’s campaign data.

    “When asked if he owed Clinton an apology, Sanders simply said, “Yes, I apologize.” To many, this was seen as a sign of integrity – and the issue was left in the dust, rhetorically speaking,” Lamberton said.

    When the stakes are lower, the calculus changes. Between friends, the findings suggest that people shouldn’t be afraid of admitting flaws or good deeds because doing so helps create trust and liking, she said.

    John said her team isn’t at the point where they can give advice on every scenario of public disclosure, but that’s where they want to take the work, especially given the ease of which people share information on social media and the Internet.

    “We see this issue come up so often now because Internet media is still a very foreign thing for people to navigate. We’re really good at navigating face-to-face interactions, but when it comes to online disclosure, it’s a whole medium that we don’t know how to work with,” John said.

    The post Clinton’s critical mistake in handling her email release appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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