May 5, 2014

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that government meetings may begin with prayers so long as they do not discriminate against particular religions.

By a 5-4 ruling, the court sided with the town of Greece, New York, saying that prayer at town meetings "fits within the tradition" followed by Congress and state legislatures. Since the prayer is ceremonial and not related to policymaking, the court said, it is therefore not an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Moreover, the court found that overtly Christian prayer was permissible "so long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination" toward other religions. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that "legislative bodies do not engage in imper­missible coercion merely by exposing constituents to prayer they would rather not hear and in which they need not participate."

In a blistering dissent, however, Justice Elena Kagan said Greece did discriminate against non-Christian faiths by inviting predominantly Christian clergy to deliver the prayer. "When the citizens of this country approach their government, they do so only as Americans," she wrote, adding, "they should not confront government-sponsored worship that divides them along religious lines." Jon Terbush

9:56 a.m. ET

At a meeting Tuesday with American auto industry executives, President Trump vowed to bring "manufacturing back to the United States, bigly." Trump, speaking to the CEOs of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, laid out plans to reduce taxes and "unnecessary" environmental regulations. "We want regulations, but we want real regulations that mean something," Trump said, calling environmentalism "out of control."

Auto executives went into the meeting hoping to gain some "clarity" on Trump's push for manufacturing to stay in the U.S. and his vow to impose hefty border taxes if companies move their plants to Mexico. American automakers say it would be a strain for all production to occur within the U.S., and some experts estimate Trump's proposed taxes could increase car prices, reducing consumers' options.

Listen as Trump outlines his plans below. Becca Stanek

9:31 a.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Auto industry executives have their first meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, but they've already long been pondering how they'll work with the new president. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that instead of spending the end of 2016 preparing for the year ahead, the auto industry was focused on getting ready for the Trump administration:

Union bosses are being called in to consult on how to reshuffle factory work, board members are trying to figure out who has friends in President Donald Trump's new administration, and task forces have been created to monitor his Twitter account.

At a dinner party during the Detroit auto show earlier this month, Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Mark Fields said he reread Mr. Trump's The Art of the Deal over the holidays. He first read it in the 1980s, but wants to better understand the new occupant of the Oval Office. [Wall Street Journal]

Trump's tweeting in particular is a concern for auto industry executives, as many admit they're not very familiar with the social media platform. Ford's Fields doesn't "actively tweet from a personal account," Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne "doesn't use Twitter," and GM Chief Executive Mary Barra "uses the tool sparingly," The Wall Street Journal reported.

But with Trump repeatedly dinging automakers on Twitter for considering offshoring manufacturing, auto execs have realized they're "going to have to learn to respond," Marchionne said. Since being elected, Trump has taken to calling out specific automakers on Twitter, including Ford and General Motors, and his tweeted promises of imposing hefty border taxes have sent the companies' respective stocks in a downward spiral, if only temporarily.

At the meeting Tuesday, auto industry executives from General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler will reportedly try to convince Trump that his demand for "new plants to be built here for cars sold here" might be easier said than done.

For more on automakers' Trump preparation, head over to The Wall Street Journal. Becca Stanek

9:12 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Donald Trump intends to keep James Comey on as the director of the FBI, people familiar with the decision told The New York Times.

Comey has fallen under heavy criticism from Democrats who scrutinized his decision to announce less than two weeks before the presidential election that the FBI was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. The FBI is currently investigating possible ties between President Trump's associates, including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and the Russian government.

The sitting president may fire the FBI director if he wishes; otherwise, FBI directors serve 10-year terms. Former President Barack Obama appointed Comey in 2013. Jeva Lange

8:49 a.m. ET
Dale Robinette

The Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday morning, with Manchester by the Sea, La La Land, Moonlight, Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, and Lion getting nods for Best Picture.

Best Lead Actor included Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), and Denzel Washington (Fences). Best Lead Actress included Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), and Meryl Streep earned her 20th Academy Award nomination for Florence Foster Jenkins.

La La Land lead the awards with 14 nominations, matching the record for the most nominations for a single movie, which is also shared by Titanic and All About Eve. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Feb. 26. Read our review of La La Land here, and read the full list of nominees here. Jeva Lange

8:18 a.m. ET
Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is famously a Luddite, shying away from computers, email, and even phones. As a 21st century leader, though, that can lead to some odd ways of operating, Axios reports:

With an allergy to computers and phones, [President Trump] works the papers. With a black Sharpie in hand, he marks up the [New York] Times or other printed stories. When he wants action or response, he scrawls the staffers' names on that paper and either hands the clip to them in person, or has a staffer create a PDF of it — with handwritten commentary — and email it to them. An amazed senior adviser recently pulled out his phone to show us a string of the emailed PDFs, all demanding response. It was like something from the early 90s. Even when he gets worked up enough to tweet, Trump told us in our interview he will often simply dictate it, and let his staff hit "send" on Twitter. [Axios]

"[President Trump is] so old-school that he thinks it's awesome to go on 60 Minutes," one friend tried to explain. Jeva Lange

7:56 a.m. ET

Doublethink. Newspeak. Hate Week. Thought Police. All are phrases that don't sound too terribly out of context in a world of "alternative facts" and Days of Patriotism. The terms, though, originated nearly 70 years ago in George Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984, which is eerily finding traction and resonance again today:

It's not the first time in recent memory that 1984 has appeared on the charts. In 2013, the book also blipped onto the bestseller list — likely because the NSA surveillance scandal at the time sounded frighteningly reminiscent of Big Brother. Jeva Lange

7:28 a.m. ET
Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. stock market went on something of a tear after President Trump's victory in November, and the biggest winners were Wall Street banks, led by Goldman Sachs. The rise in bank shares was a boon for investors in Goldman, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase, and other top banks, but also for their executives, who sold off at least $100 million worth of stock since the election — more than any other November to January period in at least a decade — The Wall Street Journal reported. Bank stocks are collectively up about 20 percent since Nov. 9, more than triple the broader market.

That jump in valuation was attributed to expectations that Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress will gut financial reforms put in place by Democrats to prevent another banking crisis, plus enact lower taxes and other bank-friendly economic policies. The skyrocketing bank shares also revived millions of dollars worth of previously worthless stock options about to expire, and executives at top Wall Street banks also sold $350 million worth of stock to exercise those options, The Wall Street Journal reports. Not all banks have reported their executives' stock trades, and only some executives have to file such reports.

"Share sales by corporate executives are often viewed by investors as a sign that insiders could be growing wary of valuations or be less confident in an increase in share prices," The Wall Street Journal notes, though that's not necessarily the case in this round of profit-taking. You can read more about the Wall Street bonanza at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

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