The process of confirming a Supreme Court justice is a complicated political challenge under normal circumstances. So you can imagine what the potential nominee could face this election year. Liberals are practically foaming at the mouth given President Obama's opportunity to name a successor, while conservatives are vowing to filibuster the decision. Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly Feb. 13, was a reliable conservative vote in the High Court. If Obama wants to actually get his successor confirmed in the next 11 months, that person needs to essentially do the impossible — please everyone. Whom might this unicorn candidate be?
The White House doesn't plan to name anyone until the Senate is back in session on Feb. 22, but that leaves plenty of time for speculation. Pulled from the many lists floating around, here are the three buzziest candidates:
The 48-year-old Indian-American already achieved the impossible in 2013 when he was unanimously confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, by far the most prominent circuit court. Previously, he had a seven-year stint working for the solicitor general's office, including five years under President George W. Bush. He also clerked for two Republican judges, including Sandra Day O'Connor. Srinivasan is widely viewed as a moderate.
The 51-year-old Obama appointee also earned a unanimous Senate vote in 2013 when she was confirmed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. At the time, she was championed by the same committee chair, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who would be leading the Supreme Court confirmation process this time around. Kelly, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991 with Obama, spent most of her career as a public defender.
The 48-year-old Obama appointee was confirmed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012 by a "filibuster-proof majority" (61 to 34). Watford, who is African-American, spent a decade as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and has clerked for prominent conservative judge Alex Kozinski as well as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He is considered a moderate. Lauren Hansen
In a story by New York's Gabriel Sherman published Friday, former Fox News employee Laurie Luhn detailed alleged harassment by former network chief Roger Ailes over a span of more than two decades. The explosive account chronicles Luhn's experience of alleged harassment at Ailes' hands beginning in the summer of 1988 and running through 2011, when she signed a settlement with Fox News that included "extensive nondisclosure provisions," Sherman writes.
By Luhn's account, the first instance of outright harassment by Ailes occurred Jan. 16, 1991:
Luhn put on the black garter and stockings she said Ailes had instructed her to buy; he called it her uniform. Ailes sat on a couch. "Go over there. Dance for me," she recalled him saying. [...] When she had finished dancing, Ailes told her to get down on her knees in front of him, she said, and put his hands on her temples. As she recalled, he began speaking to her slowly and authoritatively, as if he were some kind of Svengali: "Tell me you will do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it. At any time, at any place when I call. No matter where I call you, no matter where you are. Do you understand? You will follow orders. If I tell you to put on your uniform, what are you gonna do, Laurie? WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO, LAURIE?" [...] Ailes asked her to perform oral sex, she said. [New York]
Luhn told Sherman that Ailes demanded phone sex and regular hotel-room meet-ups, though "it was always the on-my-knees, hold-my-temples routine. There was no affair, no sex, no love." Luhn also said several Fox employees deduced she was sexually involved with Ailes, especially as she began moving up in the company. Several Fox employees were implicated in Luhn's account — some by name and some anonymously — and while many declined to comment, several confirmed certain parts of Luhn's telling of events.
As Sherman notes, "so far, most of the women who have spoken publicly about harassment by Ailes ... had said no to Ailes' sexual advances. ... This is the account of a woman who chose to go along with what Roger Ailes wanted." Ailes has denied all allegations against him, and last week resigned from the network. Read Luhn's entire story, synthesized by Sherman, at New York. Kimberly Alters
Audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the book business today, The Wall Street Journal reports. Sales in the U.S. and Canada jumped 21 percent in 2015 from the previous year, according to the Audio Publishers Association. Revenue from audiobook downloads in the U.S. grew 38 percent last year from 2014, while revenue from e-books actually declined by 11 percent. "People listen to audiobooks while traveling, exercising, gardening, and relaxing at home," the Journal explains. "They switch devices from one activity to the next, listening on smartphones, tablets, computers, and MP3 players." And audiobook readers are spending a lot of time listening. "Many, many millions of people give us on average two hours a day," said Donald Katz, founder of audiobook market leader Audible.
Higher-paid CEOs underperform compared with their lower-paid counterparts, according to a study of 429 public companies by research firm MSCI. The average shareholder returns for firms with the lowest-paid CEOs were 39 percent higher over a 10-year period than those for firms with the highest-paid CEOs. "In fact," the MSCI report states, "even after adjusting for company size and sector, companies with lower total summary CEO pay levels more consistently displayed higher long-term investment returns."
Questions of Russian hacking were raised once again Friday when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a group that raises money for House Democratic candidates, admitted that it too had been hacked. The committee's announcement came just a week after thousands of Democratic National Committee emails were posted on WikiLeaks as a result of a hack suspected to have been sanctioned by the Russian government. The Guardian reported that "intrusion investigators" say the hack at the DCCC looks a lot like the DNC breach.
The committee said it is "cooperating with federal law enforcement with respect to their ongoing investigation." At this point, it remains unclear exactly who was behind the hack, though it's believed to have taken place from "at least June 19 to June 27, though it may have been longer," Reuters reported. That would imply the DCCC breach occurred just days after the DNC first publicly announced it had been hacked. Becca Stanek
If you wish to give your child a fairy-tale bedroom has no price ceiling, here's your chance. The Fantasy Air Balloon Bed and Sofa (approximately $25,100) turns bedtime into a joyride and dreams into fanciful journeys. Created by a Portuguese company that also manufactures beds shaped like seashells, rockets, and 1960s VW Microbuses, this piece features a fabric top that appears to be a balloon rising through the ceiling, plus a base made from a solid wood frame wrapped in hand-woven wicker. The bed includes a remote-controlled light and sound system that can generate additional magic.
Mike Pence must've briefly blanked on the fact that he's Donald Trump's running mate Friday when he decided to go after President Obama for "name-calling." Pence apparently found it distasteful that Obama dared to suggest Trump is a "demagogue" during his Wednesday address to the Democratic National Convention, telling conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt: "I don't think name-calling has any place in public life, and I thought that was unfortunate that the president of the United States would use a term like that."
Obama, however, didn't even directly attach the word "demagogue" to Trump's name — a precaution Trump certainly didn't take when he dubbed Hillary Clinton as "Crooked Hillary," former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as "Low Energy Jeb," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as "Lyin' Ted," Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine as "Corrupt Kaine," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as "Liddle Marco," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as "Goofy Elizabeth," and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as "Crazy Bernie." Becca Stanek
A Georgia appeals court ruled that a man who took pictures up a woman's skirt did not break any law, The Washington Post reports. Brandon Lee Gary admitted to "upskirting" at a store, but the court ruled that a law that prohibits photographing people "in any private place" means a physical location, not a part of the body. A dissenting judge argued that a woman should be able to expect privacy "in the area under her skirt."