The Supreme Court's Final Four

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • SCOTUS WATCH: At the Supreme Court yesterday, Chief Justice John Roberts did not signal that today would be the last day the Court would sit to release opinions, ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE notes. That means that today, and presumably Monday, the Court will release the final four. The outstanding opinions concern the recess appointment power, abortion buffer zones, the contraception mandate and public unions. Note a public union case (Harris v. Quinn) does have the potential to be a sleeper case if the Court decides to rule broadly.
  • HOW YESTERDAY'S CELLPHONE DECISION AFFECTS YOU: Before yesterday Supreme Court decision, some lower courts had said that police officers could, at the time of arrest, search your cellphone without a warrant. The thinking was that a cellphone was no different than, say, a cigarette pack in your pocket, or pictures in your wallet. That has all changed. A unanimous court said that the police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cellphone seized from an individual who has been arrested, unless there is an emergency circumstance. The holding is broader than some of us who attended oral argument thought it might be. Here are some questions and answers about the ruling from ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE and JAKE LEFFERMAN:


ABC's RICK KLEIN: The tea party has died and risen and then died again this primary season. So it's easy to forget the bigger picture, over in the arena that really matters - the legislative one. As The Wall Street Journal's Patrick O'Connor points out, tea partiers are still controlling the GOP agenda in Washington, even if this primary season has been mostly a bust for them. On the Export-Import Bank, immigration reform, and the highway trust fund, there's close to zero deviation from the tea party line when it comes to legislative movement. As noted before, the real way the Republican Party establishment has adjusted to the tea party era is by trying to coopt its energy and ideas, high-profile fights like the one in Mississippi notwithstanding. The battles are raging on, but the war is over - almost surely through the balance of President Obama's time in office.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Now we know for sure this week was a good one for elder statesmen: Charlie Rangel officially beat his opponent with the AP calling it just yesterday afternoon and Thad Cochran came back from the dead to win Tuesday. But, there's still no concession in that race, no congratulations even if it were given begrudgingly. That's because Cochran's opponent State Sen. Chris McDaniel is still exploring ways to win. In a statement he said he is looking into a possible legal fight, calling for "scrutiny of the election's irregularities." He's talking about the Cochran campaign's outreach to Democratic voters, especially African-Americans. In the Magnolia State's open primary it's completely legal. Mississippi election law expert Matthew Steffey described McDaniel's legal possibilities: "I think saying the chances are slim overstates the chances of him successfully overturning the election…it seems like the early stages of grief, where denial and bargaining is still going on." So, how much longer can we wait for reality to set in? It seems a bit longer in Mississippi.



CHRIS MCDANIEL HUNTS FOR VALID WAY TO CHALLENGE MISSISSIPPI LOSS. ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and BARBARA SCHMITT report: Six-term GOP incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran dodged political death Tuesday by reaching out to Mississippi Democrats, including African-American voters, in the weeks between the primary and Tuesday's runoff. Turnout was even up, incredibly rare for a runoff that he now appears to have won. But there were no congratulations from the apparent loser, no concession speech; instead, tea party-backed challenger State Sen. Chris McDaniel told his crowd of about 200 supporters Tuesday night in Hattiesburg: "The fight is not over." The former talk radio host followed that up yesterday with a statement confirming that he will look into a possible legal fight, calling for "scrutiny of the election's irregularities," as well as a "thorough examination of the core principles of the Republican Party." "In the coming days, our team will look into the irregularities to determine whether a challenge is warranted," McDaniel, 41, said of the allegations. "After we've examined the data, we will make a decision about whether and how to proceed."

ARKANSAS GOP OFFICIAL WHO SUGGESTED HILLARY CLINTON WOULD 'GET SHOT' RESIGNS. A local Arkansas GOP official who recently said that Hillary Clinton would "probably get shot at the state line," if she runs for president in 2016 resigned from his post today after facing criticism for his remark, ABC's CALEB JACKSON writes. The official, Johnny Rhoda, who chaired the state Republican Party organization in Arkansas' 2nd Congressional District, stepped down today, the chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party told ABC affiliate KATV. Clinton, who is on tour promoting her new book, "Hard Choices," is scheduled to make a stop at a Little Rock Wal-Mart on Friday. It all started when U.S. News reporter David Catanese asked Rhoda about Clinton's prospects in Arkansas as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. "She'd probably get shot at the state line," Rhoda said, according to the U.S. News interview, adding: "Nobody has any affection for her."

MEET THE NEW WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY IN 14 TWEETS. He vows never to grow a beard, is a big fan of President Harry S. Truman, and loves Chick-fil-A - never mind that the company owner opposes President Obama on gay rights. Newly-minted White House press secretary Josh Earnest opened up on Twitter today during his first public Q&A as " @PressSec" - the official handle for Obama's spokesman on the social network. Here's a lightly-edited version of the exchange courtesy of ABC's DEVIN DWYER:

IRS OFFICIAL SET SIGHTS ON SEN. GRASSLEY AFTER INVITE MIX-UP. House Republicans are angry after an email chain showed that former IRS chief Lois Lerner suggested that the agency should audit conservative Sen. Chuck Grassley, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. Lerner, who has been the target of House hearings into the alleged targeting of conservatives, suggested the probe after she and Grassley were invited to speak at a seminar. The group mixed up their tickets and Grassley's invitation indicated that the group was also paying for Grassley's wife to travel and attend the seminar. Grassley's wife, Barbara, is a lobbyist. "Looked like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife. Perhaps we should refer to Exam?" Lerner wrote in a Dec. 4, 2012 email to several individuals. Another IRS official, Matthew Giuliano, cautions Lerner against prematurely referring the case for further examination. "Your and Grassley's invitations were placed in each other's envelopes," Giuliano replied. "Not sure we should send to exam. I think the offer to pay for Grassley's wife is income to Grassley, and not prohibited on its face."

CLEVELAND VS. DALLAS: 2016 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION FINALISTS FACE OFF. Denver and Kansas City have been officially eliminated from the race to hold the 2016 Republican National Convention - leaving just two cities, Cleveland and Dallas, vying for the top spot. Not everyone was enthusiastic about the remaining possibilities. The reaction on Twitter was as sarcastic as it was swift. ABC's ERIN DOOLEY did a slightly more objective comparison of the attributes of the two cities. Here's what we came up with:

BOEHNER INSISTS OBAMA LAWSUIT 'NOT ABOUT IMPEACHMENT'. House Speaker John Boehner says he will sue President Obama claiming he has not "faithfully executed the law," but said the suit is not a step towards impeachment, according to ABC's JOHN PARKINSON. The suit has grown out of Republican anger over the president's growing use of executive orders. "The Constitution makes it clear that a president's job is to faithfully execute the laws," said Boehner, R-Ohio. "In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws." Boehner is preparing to ask the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, known as BLAG, to file a lawsuit to counter Obama's executive actions. BLAG consists of the senior echelon of House leadership whose responsibilities under House rules include instructing the House General Counsel to take legal action on behalf of the lower chamber. Boehner insisted his move is not about setting a course towards impeaching the president. "This is not about impeachment," Boehner said. "This is about his faithfully executing the laws of our country."


TWO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS REALLY LOVE PRINCE SONGS. Who knew Prince had so many fans on Capitol Hill? In honor of the 30th anniversary of Prince's hit album "Purple Rain," two members of Congress posted short videos of themselves singing and playing the guitar to two of Prince's most famous songs, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., started the celebration yesterday morning, playing his own rendition of Prince's song "Purple Rain." But Ellison might be confused about the lyrics. "Purple Rain" actually starts with the words "I never meant to cause you any sorrow," while Ellison says "I never meant to cause you any problems." Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., then challenged Ellison, saying his favorite Prince jam is actually "Raspberry Beret."


@davidaxelrod: Wondering if Cochran's much-ballyhooed outreach to black voters in MS will in any way impact on his approach to issues in Senate?

@ChadPergram: Cornyn/Rubio call for non-binding resolution urging Obama to take action to help with unaccampied children on the border.

@PhilipRucker: Very nice @jimrutenberg piece on Mark Sanford - his escape, his soul & his ugly fallout with Nikki Haley …

@markzbarabak: Lots of reasons Hillary might run for president. In SF Weds night, Clinton offered reasons she might not. …

@NancyPelosi: No, we have not forgotten. We will continue to demand that the Nigerian government #BringBackOurGirls.