Kansas girl at center of 1954 school segregation ruling dies

Linda Brown, the Kansas girl at the center of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down racial segregation in schools, has died at age 76.

Topeka’s former Sumner School was all-white when her father, Oliver, tried to enroll the family. He became lead plaintiff in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court that ended school segregation.

Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel of Topeka confirmed that Linda Brown died Sunday afternoon. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Her sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, founding president of The Brown Foundation, confirmed the death to The Topeka Capital-Journal . She declined comment from the family.

“Her legacy is not only here but nationwide,” Kansas Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis said. “The effect she had on our society would be unbelievable and insurmountable.”

The landmark case was brought before the Supreme Court by the NAACP’s legal arm to challenge segregation in public schools. It began after several black families in Topeka were turned down when they tried to enroll their children in white schools near their homes. The lawsuit was joined with cases from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that separating black and white children was unconstitutional because it denied black children the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. “In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote. “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

“We are to be grateful for the family that stood up for what is right,” said Democratic state Rep. Annie Kuether of Topeka. “That made a difference to the rest of the world.”

GOP leans on party switchers to keep the Senate

The fate of the GOP-controlled Senate could come down to the performance of a handful of Democrats — former Democrats running as Republicans, that is.

Four major GOP candidates in top battleground races actually voted in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, and their party allegiance is already a hot-button topic in the contests.

The latest instance is in Mississippi, where Gov. Phil Bryant announced last week he intends to appoint state Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Democrat until 2010, to replace Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) when Cochran resigns next week. Already, conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel is hitting Hyde-Smith, saying last week that “the last thing the state of Mississippi needs in Washington is another moderate Democrat.”

At least three other Republicans in some of the most vulnerable Democratic-held Senate seats up this year — Rep. Evan Jenkins in West Virginia, businessman and veteran Kevin Nicholson in Wisconsin and former state legislator Mike Braun in Indiana — also cast ballots in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, leaving themselves open to brutal attacks from their primary rivals.

Their opponents are already turning their past primary votes into tests of their conservative purity and fidelity to President Donald Trump. The more those attacks are litigated, the bigger the question mark for these party switchers to galvanize base voters — both in their primaries, and in a possible general election against a Democrat. All four races are critical to the GOP’s Senate efforts in 2018: The party is defending the seat in Mississippi, while the other three are among the 10 Democratic-held seats up this year in states Trump carried two years ago.

A number of party-switchers have been able to make that difficult case to GOP voters, including two of the 51 Republican senators currently serving.

“My opponents made a big deal out of it,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who switched parties in 2007 when he was state treasurer and won his Senate seat last cycle.

But he said candidates can overcome these attacks. “I think people want to know why you made the change, and that’s an important and fair question.”

The stakes are highest for Hyde-Smith, and for Republicans in Washington and Mississippi, who are worried her past as a Democrat could make it harder to get past conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the state’s special election. McDaniel has declared the “last thing the state of Mississippi needs in Washington is another moderate Democrat.”

Because of the state’s method for conducting special elections, McDaniel could use Hyde-Smith’s partisan history as a cudgel against the appointee and end up in a head-to-head race with a Democratic candidate, likely former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy — a virtual no-win situation for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies. It’s why Trump and his political operation urged Bryant not to tap Hyde-Smith, worried about the attacks she would face.

Both Bryant and Hyde-Smith have tried to glide past her party history and instead emphasize her ideology, with Bryant calling her “the most reliable vote I had for conservative causes” in the state Senate when he was the state’s lieutenant governor, and Hyde-Smith proclaiming she has “always been a conservative.” She switched parties in the run-up to the 2010 elections, when she was first elected agriculture commissioner.

McDaniel, however, has tried to contrast her 2008 Democratic primary vote with his own political past. In a press release Friday morning, he noted he became a Republican “at age thirteen when I first heard Ronald Reagan speak,” and contrasted it with Hyde-Smith’s continued tenure in the party: “Mississippi wants to know: Who did Cindy Hyde-Smith vote for? Clinton or Obama?”

Hyde-Smith’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The collection of former Democrats now running in the GOP reflects the Democratic Party’s rapid political decline in Appalachia and in the Deep South, from a party that still had legislative majorities in 2010 to political poison today, and a general weakening of political parties in general — the number of Americans who identify with either party is at an all-time low.

In the 2016 cycle, Louisianans sent Kennedy to the Senate. And in Missouri, Republicans ignored Eric Greitens’ past as a Democrat, including his one-time recruitment by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and elected him to the governorship.

And of course, President Donald Trump’s past as a Democratic voter and donor didn’t stop him from running roughshod over what had been thought of as the strongest GOP presidential field in memory.

“The president opened the door in the Republican Party for significant number of elected officials to switch parties,” said Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Still, “when it comes to primary politics, you’re still always going to have party regulars who view fidelity to the GOP as a prerequisite for getting through.”

Hyde-Smith was a Democratic state legislator until 2010, when she switched parties to run for Agriculture Commissioner. Jenkins has a similar story: He served in the legislature as a Democrat until he switched parties in 2014 to challenge former Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).

Nicholson was president of the College Democrats of America, and has said his experiences serving in the Army and as a father led him through a political transformation. Braun’s campaign said the businessman, who later served in the state legislature as a Republican, was attempting to influence the direction of the Democratic Party with his votes in primary election.

Jenkins’ campaign said, in 2008, he didn’t vote for either Obama or Clinton, and says he voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the general. He did attend a Clinton campaign event during her presidential bid. Nicholson has claimed he voted “no preference” in the 2008 primary. Braun’s campaign has never addressed who he voted for. All three campaigns didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Kennedy said he faced attacks over his support of John Kerry in 2004, but was able to bat them away by being honest about his “mistake.” Scott Jennings, a GOP strategist for the super PAC that backed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection in 2014, recalled how Republicans were able to hammer Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes over her refusal to say whether or not she had voted for former President Barack Obama in 2012.

“Honesty and authenticity is much better than any other malarkey answer that sounds cagey,” he said.

Beyond the presidential vote, the campaigns have faced other attacks relating to their Democratic histories. In Wisconsin, both parties have highlighted events from Nicholson’s year leading the College Democrats of America — including his invitation to Rosie O’Donnell to talk about gun control — as evidence he’s inauthentic. One of Braun’s primary opponents, Rep. Todd Rokita, sarcastically welcomed him to the Republican Party at their first debate. Jenkins’ two primary opponents in West Virginia have suggested he’s a clone of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the man they’re fighting to take on in the fall.

“In the past, Evan Jenkins supported Joe Manchin and his liberal friends,” the narrator says in an ad from Don Blankenship’s campaign in West Virginia. “Career politicians like Joe Manchin and Evan Jenkins have kept West Virginia last in jobs and near first in poverty.”

Poll: Americans believe women over Trump on affair allegations

A majority of Americans believe the women who have alleged affairs with Donald Trump rather than the president’s denials, according to a poll released on Monday.

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed in the CNN poll say they believe the women who have come forward with the allegations of extramarital affairs with Trump, while 21 percent say they believe the president and 16 percent say they have no opinion on the matter.

The survey found that, overall, Republicans were more likely to trust in Trump’s denials instead of the women, 41 percent to 31 percent, and that women put more faith in the allegations over the president, 70 percent to 54 percent.

A majority of those polled also expressed support for efforts to free up the women who have reportedly been barred under nondisclosure agreements from discussing their alleged sexual relationships with Trump. Fifty-one percent of Americans said the women should be free to discuss the affairs, while 41 percent said the so-called hush agreements should remain in place.

The findings come on the heels of a highly anticipated “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday with Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress and producer who said she had sex with Trump in 2006, an affair that the president’s personal lawyer reportedly paid to keep quiet about just days before the 2016 election.

The White House on Monday maintained that Trump denies Daniels’ allegations.

“The president strongly, clearly and consistently has denied these underlying claims,” deputy principal press secretary Raj Shah said at the daily briefing. “The only one who has been inconsistent is the one making the claims.”

Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, told CNN last week that she also had a sexual relationship Trump before he took office and that she entered into a deal not to discuss it.

Despite upheaval over Trump’s reported romps with Daniels and McDougal, the CNN poll found that the president’s approval rating had bounced back to its highest level since the 100-day mark of his presidency, with 42 percent approving of his job performance. Fifty-four percent disapproved of Trump’s handling of the country.

The survey was conducted between March 22, when McDougal’s interview aired, and March 25, when Daniels’ sit-down was broadcast.

Trump’s approval rating, however, remains below that of all his modern-era predecessors at this stage in their first terms, CNN found.

The CNN poll surveyed 1,014 adults on landlines or cellphones and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

How Trump Inspired the Roseanne Reboot

In the first episode of “Roseanne,” the ‘90s sitcom that launches a revival run on ABC on Tuesday, we learn that Roseanne Conner and her sister Jackie haven’t spoken in a year, on account of the 2016 election. Roseanne, played by the outspoken comedian Roseanne Barr, voted for Donald Trump. Jackie, played by Laurie Metcalf, did not. “Not only did she vote for the worst person on Earth,” Roseanne says, “but she was a real jerk about it, too.” Jackie shows up at the house wearing a pink pussy hat and a “Nasty Woman” t-shirt. After a tense dinner, the sisters shout and parry; Roseanne explains her vote—“He talked about jobs, Jackie. He said he’d shape things up”—and Jackie tells Roseanne what she was really thinking on Election Day, and whom she really voted for. No one switches sides, but they declare a truce and return to their default relationship, loving but comically strained.

It’s the most overtly political exchange in the episode, and in the nine-episode season overall, said executive producer Bruce Helford. But the way he describes it, it’s also a metaphor for the series and its overarching goals. Barr herself is a vocal Trump supporter, and has talked about how meaningful it felt to place one of TV’s quintessential working-class families in Year Two of the Trump administration. So I asked Helford, who also worked on the original show, about the producers’ intention. Was it to appeal to Trump voters, who might finally see themselves in sympathetic TV characters? To explain the Trump-voter mindset to coastal elites? To bridge the gap between two sides?

Helford responded by talking about conversations. As ever-present as politics might be in people’s lives today, he notes, we often avoid tough discussions, in real life, with people on the opposite side.

“There are lots of families that are divided. It’s like a civil war,” Helford said, recounting some of his own family gatherings, where people steered away from political topics because they knew things would get too heated or cruel. “What’s really important to ‘Roseanne,’ and for all of us, is to put the whole discourse out in the open,” he said. “We’re hoping we can bring a kind of dialogue back.”

The idea that a sitcom could change American discourse feels like something between a tall order and a self-aggrandizing Hollywood pipe dream. But it’s also not entirely far-fetched. A sitcom, after all, is TV’s best approximation of your own extended family—a group of characters you examine, understand and invite into your living room on a regular basis. And the Conners have been a proxy family for millions of Americans. They sniped at each other, reconciled and hugged for nearly a decade, from 1988 to 1997, consistently landing at or near the top of the Nielsen ratings. They reached millennials through reruns on Nick at Nite and TV Land.

The Conners happen to fit the stereotype of the white exurban Trump voter. They live in fictional Lanford, Illinois—loosely based on the city of Elgin—struggle with money and chronic underemployment and blink in disbelief at the pace of social change. And they return at a time when countless media outlets have sent reporters into the heartland, with the inquisitive zeal of foreign correspondents, to uncover the hopes and fears of the white working class. (Some artists have tried to cross the divide—notably, Sarah Silverman, whose fall Hulu show “I Love You, America” sent its liberal star to kibbitz with real people with opposing politics.)

The results of these well-meaning inquiries are filtered through the echo chamber, with predictable results. Depending on your perspective, you might mistrust that earnest mainstream-media feature because it comes from a Fake News purveyor, or view it from a distance, detachedly, like an anthropological study. The “Roseanne” revival lands in this polarized world, and it’s unclear how it will be received. Barr’s outspoken pro-Trump views, and her pugnacious Twitter feed, have turned off some potential viewers; this winter, activists tried to launch a boycott movement and persuade ABC to drop the show.

Still, anticipation has been high, driven by nostalgia and genuine affection for the characters. Those are powerful forces, says Dannagal Young, a professor of communications at the University of Delaware who studies the interplay between politics and humor. And they give the show a chance to reach an audience that journalism can’t.

The academic term for this phenomenon, Young said, is “parasocial relationship.” We have a natural tendency to empathize with fictional characters and distant celebrities. And as we’re drawn into their narratives, we’re forced to imagine life from their perspective. That’s how some of the other sitcoms currently undergoing revivals have, if not created social change, at least greased the gears that propel it forward: “Will and Grace,” now running on NBC, helped pave the way for gay rights and gay marriage. “Murphy Brown,” which is returning for a 13-episode run on CBS next season, advanced the conversation about women and mothers in the workplace.

“Once you tap into that empathy and you put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s experiencing those issues,” Young said, “then you have your guard down, and you’re exploring this issue without the reflexive partisanship that seems to invade everything these days.”

But “Roseanne” isn’t just trying to explain the Conners’ perspective to outsiders. It’s also one of few TV series that has focused on the working-class white experience, allowing a demographic that’s psychologically distant from Hollywood to see itself in a positive, nonjudgmental light. “There’s something really important about visibility and representation, and we know that because we’ve heard it from minority groups for years,” Young said. At a time when viewership is fractured and even NFL football gets swept up into the partisan divide, this feels like a rare opportunity: a show that people of different perspectives might actually watch together.

Hanging out with the Conners, 20 years after they first left the air, requires some willing and winking suspension of disbelief to erase some casting shifts and abandoned plot points. (Most notably: Roseanne’s husband Dan, played by John Goodman, was killed off in the series finale in 1997, and now is very much alive.)

But the central themes of the show, like the afghan on the couch in the Conners’ living room, haven’t changed much since the original. “Roseanne” was always about the stops and starts of a family that couldn’t keep up with the economy, and it remains a study of downward mobility. The Conners’ younger daughter, Darlene—played by Sara Gilbert, an executive producer and driving force behind the revival—is now a struggling single parent who has moved back in with Roseanne and Dan. Their older son, D.J., is a military veteran whose wife is still serving overseas. Their older daughter, Becky, is widowed, works as a waitress, and intends to become a surrogate mother—because, she tells her family, the $50,000 she’d earn would allow her to pay off her credit cards and possibly buy a house. ($50,000 “just for having a baby?” Roseanne quips when she hears the news. “Dan, you owe me $200,000.”)

Many of the painfully specific dilemmas the family faces, Helford says, unfolded naturally as the writers imagined how the characters would live and act. Barr had a knee injury before the shooting began, he said; she thought at one point that she’d have to perform in a wheelchair, and wound up with a demonstrable limp. The writers realized they needed to write her injury into the show. And a storyline flowed logically from there: They imagined that she’d be on painkillers, that some of her supply might not come from her doctor, and that she thus gets swept up into the country’s deepening opioid crisis. What she really needs is surgery—which is out of reach because the family health care plan has a $3,000 deductible. “We just took the next step and the next step and the next step,” Helford said. “We really tried to get into the heart of what a family would be dealing with.”

That extends to other issues of the day, economic and otherwise. Darlene’s son, Mark, is an elementary-school-aged boy who likes to dress in girls’ clothes—and wants to attend his new school wearing frilly boots and a sparkly skirt. Dan objects: “May the winds fill his sails and carry him to the boys’ section of Target,” he says at one point. But it’s not that he reflexively disapproves; he’s mostly afraid the boy, whom he loves desperately, will be picked on by other kids. The characters talk it out, as they will later in the season, Helford says, when the Conners encounter illegal immigrants from Mexico: Are they hurting the current residents or—as the character Roseanne will contend—being exploited themselves?

That sense of hashing it out, rather than simply declaring judgment, is consistent with a show that always wrestled with social issues, from gender dynamics to gay rights. “The Conners were a very accepting group of people. They were very much about being open to people who were different from them,” Helford said. And the writers still assume that, regardless of their politics, the characters think and act with good intention. “We write it from the point of view that working-class people are the nobility of this country,” Helford said, “and not that they’re rednecks or hillbillies.”

That representation is achieved in part, he says, by deliberately filling the writers’ room with people who have experienced working-class life. (Helford, for his part, grew up poor in Chicago.) And the old-fashioned format, a multi-camera comedy filmed before a live studio audience, gives the characters space and time to express their views. A single-camera show—the format for most prestige comedies today—requires tight dialogue and short takes: “If you’re in a scene for more than two pages, you’re bored,” Helford said. “If you’re in a multi-cam, you’re sitting there for eight pages for a scene. And the words become more important and the thoughts become more important.”

In “Roseanne,” that can mean awkward silences and deeply serious themes; there are jokes, lots of them, but there also are moments when this feels like the saddest show on television. But then, a lot of long-running sitcoms, once they earned viewers’ trust, have had the power to take on dramatic issues with credibility and power. Young points to a famous scene from a 1994 “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” episode, when Will Smith’s character confronts his deadbeat father, which has become indelible for a generation of TV viewers.“We share their lives with them week to week,” Young says. “And it wouldn’t be as authentic an experience if we didn’t also share moments of hardship.”

Helford contends that the country still has an appetite for honest and tough conversations, softened by levity—even if the underlying issues aren’t resolved, even if we’ve taken to unfriending foes on Facebook and retreating to like-minded Twitter feeds. “America had no problem inviting Norman Lear’s shows into their homes as guests,” he said. “America likes a good tough discussion.”

Of course, it all depends on whether America tunes in. When it airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday night, “Roseanne” will be up against “NCIS,” “The Voice,” everything on Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, and, of course, the cable networks that filter politics through the old tropes of opposition, anger and judgment. Time will tell if Helford’s theory holds, and if viewers like what they see. But Young has hope. For a course on politics and entertainment, she recently gave her college students an assignment: Imagine that you’re working to reduce political polarization through the development of a film or TV series. How would you produce psychological empathy? What content would you create?

They took to the project with gusto, she said. And the imaginary show they came up with often centered on average families, stocked with liberals and conservatives who were forced to experience things together: The death of a loved one, the stress over financial hardship, the overcoming of shared obstacles. In other words, they sounded a lot like “Roseanne.”

The Supreme Court Case That Could Transform Politics

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court hears arguments in Benisek v. Lamone, a case about whether Maryland violated the First Amendment rights of Republican voters by redrawing the state’s congressional districts with the goal of making it unwinnable for an incumbent Republican member of Congress. The case may answer not only that question but also a broader one about the courts’ proper role in the political process: Will the late Antonin Scalia’s view that courts should mostly refuse to police incumbency protection and political self-interest prevail?

The Benisek ruling revolves around whether the court is willing to let incumbents set the rules for their own elections to office. In many states, legislators have the power to approve the lines used to create districts in which they will run for reelection—and it is no surprise that these districts are often drawn to the majority party’s advantage, a process known as gerrymandering.

Such was the case in Maryland, where the Democratic-controlled state government redrew congressional boundaries ahead of the 2012 elections in such a way so as to deprive Republican voters of a majority in one of the state’s two remaining GOP-majority congressional districts. There’s no real disagreement over whether this was the Democrats’ motivation—then-Governor Martin O’Malley testified in a 2017 deposition that it was his “hope” and “intent” that redistricting would oust incumbent GOP Congressman Roscoe Bartlett from office, which it did.

The Republican voters who filed the Benisek case argue that just as the government cannot make decisions to hire and fire non-policymaking government employees based on whether they are Democrats or Republicans, Maryland’s redistricting plan illegally discriminates against them in elections solely because they are Republicans.

Although Democrats were the gerrymanderers in Maryland, that’s relatively rare these days. With the GOP in control of the legislature in 32 states—and in control of both the legislature and governorship in 26—most gerrymandering cases at the moment involve Republican legislatures sticking it to Democrats. In North Carolina, for instance, after courts forced the state to draw new districts in 2016 when its old ones were found to be racially gerrymandered, the Republican-controlled state legislature made things even more uneven: The deep-purple, roughly 50-50 state now had a map where Republicans controlled 10 of 13 congressional seats. Asked why he gerrymandered a 10-3 Republican advantage, North Carolina State Representative David Lewis was candid: “Because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

One might think that such self-interested sentiments on the part of political incumbents would have bothered Antonin Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice who died two years ago last month. In the context of campaign finance law, Scalia was deeply distrustful of politicians, even when they said they were limiting money in politics for altruistic motives. An “incumbent politician who says he welcomes full and fair debate is no more to be believed than the entrenched monopolist who says he welcomes full and fair competition,” Scalia wrote in one 1990 ruling. On the issue of money in politics, he believed that virtually any limit violated the First Amendment, and saw such restrictions as incumbency protection schemes passed by legislators to keep themselves in power.

But Scalia was inconsistent when it came to incumbency protection. He dissented in a 1990 case where the majority found that Illinois’s Republican governor would violate the First Amendment by firing or hiring janitors or administrative assistants solely because they were Democrats. Political patronage, Scalia wrote, helped grease the wheels of politics and promoted strong political parties, despite the burden on the First Amendment rights of these non-political workers. In another case, he concluded that the Constitution contained no guarantee of a “fair shot” to win an election.

When it came to gerrymandering, Scalia also favored the incumbents, believing that courts were powerless to do anything about their geographical self-preservation schemes.

For decades, the Supreme Court struggled with when and how to regulate the drawing of legislative districts for partisan and self-interested purposes. Before Scalia joined the court, a fractured decision in 1986’s Davis v. Bandemer held that courts were open to hear cases about partisan gerrymandering—in court parlance, that the claims were “justiciable.” But the standard the court announced—that the gerrymandering would have to be so bad as to consistently frustrate the will of the majority of voters—was so hard to meet that no one was ever able to successfully bring a claim.

In 2004, the court returned to the issue in Vieth v. Jubelirer, which involved allegations of a partisan gerrymander in Pennsylvania. The court divided into three groups: four conservatives, four liberals and one moderate. The liberals believed Bandemer was right about the question of justiciability, but disagreed with its overly stringent standard—and then the justices disagreed with each other about what that standard should look like. Scalia, writing for the conservatives, had the opposite view on justiciability: The courts couldn’t hear gerrymandering cases because there were no “judicially manageable” standards to apply governing when consideration of partisanship in drawing district lines is permissible. Even if an extreme gerrymander were unconstitutional, Scalia believed that the courts were powerless to do anything about it. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for himself, agreed with the liberals that partisan gerrymandering claims are justiciable, but agreed with Scalia that none of the proposed standards delineated between permissible and impermissible consideration of partisanship—essentially challenging someone to come up with better standards in a future case.

Now the issue has come to a head. Gerrymandering has become both more egregious and more effective. Rampant partisanship has inflamed the redistricting process, and leaps in voter data and technology have made it easier to draw effective gerrymanders that allow a party to gain seats in a legislature even as the opposing party wins a majority of the votes—as two leading political scientists wrote in a brief filed in a Wisconsin political gerrymandering case. With Benisek, the court has its last best chance to come up with a standard to police gerrymandering ahead of the 2020 Census and the redistricting that will follow.

Much like during Scalia’s life, Kennedy holds the keys to the kingdom, at least for the short term. If he decides Maryland has gone too far in depriving Republican voters of their First Amendment rights, the court could well decide to start policing redistricting—not just in Maryland, but throughout the nation.

But Kennedy will not remain on the court forever, and the forceful counterarguments Scalia made in the redistricting and patronage cases could well win out in the long run if President Donald Trump gets to replace Kennedy—or any of the aging liberal members of the court—with another justice like Scalia, as he has promised to do. Scalia’s views were deeply influential among conservatives, who have followed his lead in only being concerned about incumbency protection when it comes to campaign finance.

If Scalia’s views ultimately prevail, the kind of brazen redistricting we’ve seen in states like Maryland, Wisconsin and North Carolina will become the new norm. So victory may come in for gerrymandering challengers in these cases in the short term, but in the long term, Scalia’s views may live on. On this question and many others, Scalia may be more influential in death than in life.

Richard L. Hasen is the Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at UC Irvine School of Law and the author of The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption (Yale University Press 2018).

Shulkin critic leaves White House to return to VA

Darin Selnick, a White House adviser and a top critic of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, has left the Domestic Policy Council and will return to a post at the VA.

Selnick announced the news on Friday in an email obtained by POLITICO. He will be replaced by Drew Trojanowski, a legislative aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

His departure was cordial, planned and “has nothing to do with Shulkin,” a White House official said.

President Donald Trump is reported to be unhappy with Shulkin’s leadership at the VA and is considering his firing.

Selnick was pushed out of the agency last year after butting heads with Shulkin over privatization of veterans health services. At the White House, he began holding policy meetings without informing the VA secretary. Shulkin later told a confidant that moving Selnick out of the VA was his “biggest mistake” because he did even more damage from the White House.

White House spokesman Raj Shah on Monday declined to respond to questions about Shulkin’s future in the administration.

Arthur Allen contributed to this report.

Jimmy Carter: Bolton appointment ‘a disaster for our country’

Former President Jimmy Carter on Monday called President Donald Trump’s decision to select John Bolton as his national security adviser “one of the worst mistakes” of his young presidency, casting the former ambassador’s views on foreign policy matters as disastrous for the U.S.

“I think John Bolton is a disaster for our country,” Carter told “CBS This Morning” in an interview set to air in full on Tuesday. “Maybe one of the worst mistakes that President Trump has made since he’s been in office is the employment of John Bolton, who has been advocating a war with North Korea for a long time and even an attack on Iran.”

Carter said he was “very much distressed” by Trump’s plan to replace H.R. McMaster, a three-star Army general, with Bolton atop the National Security Council.

Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, is a controversial pick for the post, having staunchly advocated for the Iraq War and called for the bombing of Iran.

The former president told CBS he worried that Bolton’s hawkish instincts would have a “deleterious” influence on Trump. Carter also expressed unease over the string of high-profile departures in the Trump administration, characterizing the president’s personnel decisions as an effort to add more like-minded voices to the White House.

“I am concerned, as a matter of fact, about his deliberate moves to get into the key positions of government just people who agree with him,” Carter said. “Access to different opinions before you make a final decision is very valuable, and in the last few days I think President Trump’s choice of close advisers, powerful advisers, have gone to unanimity rather than diversity.”

Trump announced on Twitter on Thursday that Bolton would replace McMaster as national security adviser effective April 9.

Trump’s presidency has been marked by numerous prominent staffing departures, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, top economic adviser Gary Cohn and White House communications director Hope Hicks in just the past several weeks.

Trump and top administration officials have recently weighed dismissing Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

The White House principal deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, on Monday declined to comment on reports of other imminent departures in the Trump administration, adding that he had no personnel announcements.

Stormy Daniels accuses Trump lawyer of defamation

Stormy Daniels escalated her fight against President Donald Trump on Monday, filing a complaint that accused his lawyer of defamation.

Daniels added the lawyer, Michael Cohen, as a defendant in her existing lawsuit against Trump a day after she appeared on “60 Minutes“ in a widely watched interview.

Daniels, an adult film actress whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. In October 2016, shortly before the election, she signed a contract that awarded her $130,000 in exchange for her silence about the affair.

Cohen, who arranged and signed the contract, has said that he used his own money to pay Daniels and that Trump was unaware of the agreement.

In mid-February, Cohen issued a written statement to the media, saying “just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.”

In the court filing, Daniels said “it was reasonably understood“ that the statement was about her, and “it was reasonably understood Mr. Cohen meant to convey that Ms. Clifford is a liar, someone who should not be trusted, and that her claims about her relationship with Mr. Trump is ‘something [that] isn’t true.’”

The statement exposed her to “hatred, contempt, ridicule, and shame, and discouraged others from associating or dealing with her,” the court filing claims.

David Schwartz, a lawyer for Cohen, dismissed the allegation as “completely frivolous.”

Asked Monday about the Daniels interview that aired the previous night, White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters that Trump “strongly, clearly, and has consistently denied these underlying claims.”

After Stephon Clark death, White House says Trump cares about people ‘harmed through no fault of their own’

White House spokesman Raj Shah said Monday he was “not aware of any comments” from Donald Trump about Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man fatally shot by Sacramento police this month, but he said the president cared about anyone “harmed through no fault of their own.”

Pressed on whether the president — who has yet to address the shooting, which has sparked protests — had any response, Shah said he had not spoken to Trump about the matter.

“I’m not aware of any comments that he has,” the principal deputy press secretary told reporters.

“Obviously, the president cares about any individual who would be harmed through no fault of their own,” Shah said. “I don’t know the specifics in that case. I don’t want to comment further.”

Police have said they thought Clark, who was shot in his grandparents’ backyard, was holding a gun. No weapon was found at the scene.

Clark was reportedly shot 20 times by two police officers while on his cellphone at the home in south Sacramento.

Clark’s family and their attorney have demanded answers from local police on the incident, announcing their plans to sue the city for wrongful death during a press conference on Monday.

Sacramento authorities have launched an investigation into the death of the 22-year-old.

Officials at the local, state and congressional level have spoken out in response to the shooting, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying Clark "should be alive today."

White House’s Shah: Trump doesn’t believe Stormy Daniels was threatened

The White House said on Monday that President Donald Trump “does not” believe Stormy Daniels was threatened after she first spoke out about their alleged affair.

“There is nothing to corroborate her claim,“ White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said.

Daniels, the adult film actress whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday that she was physically threatened after speaking about her alleged sexual relationship with Trump to inTouch magazine in 2011. She said that after the magazine interview, a man approached her in a parking lot and told her to “leave Trump alone. Forget the story.”

“‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom,’” Daniels, in her “60 Minutes” interviewed, recalled the man saying.

Daniels is suing over a nondisclosure agreement she signed just weeks before the 2016 election, in which Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to secure her silence. Daniels has since said the agreement is not binding because Trump never signed it. She has offered to return the money.

Shah also accused Daniels of being “inconsistent” in her account of an affair with Trump.

“With respect to that interview, I will say the president strongly, clearly and has consistently denied these underlying claims,” Shah said. “The only person who has been inconsistent is the one making the claims.”

When asked why Daniels was compensated to stay quiet, Shah said “false charges are settled out of court all the time.”

“This is nothing outside the ordinary,” he said. “False charges are settled out of court all the time. You have to ask Michael Cohen about the specifics.”