WASHINGTON – A majority of the Supreme Court seemed skeptical Tuesday that the current aggregate limit on the amount an individual can contribute to federal candidates in an election cycle can pass constitutional muster.
Chief Justice John Roberts suggested several times that he was uncomfortable restricting an individual from giving to as many candidates as the person chooses, so long as the donations are below the amount that Congress says could lead to or create the appearance of corruption. Roberts is considered the key vote in the latest challenge to Watergate-era restrictions on campaign finance.
The limit currently is set at $48,600 per two-year election cycle. Roberts noted that meant an individual could give the maximum amount allowed by law to only nine candidates and not to a 10th.
That could impinge on something weve recognized as a significant right, Roberts said.
The chief justice seemed to be looking for a way for the court to lift the aggregate ban on candidate contributions but keep a separate restriction on the amount given to political parties and committees.
NSA hub suffers electrical problems
Electrical problems have stalled the planned opening this fall of the nations new $1.7 billion epicenter for fighting global cyber threats – a Utah data center filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of classified information.
The facility will be the National Security Agencys largest data storage center in the U.S., constantly using 65 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 33,000 houses. There is no visible marker bearing the facilitys name and operator, and the NSA has been tight-lipped about the buildings purpose.
House members arrested at rally
Protesters converged on the National Mall on Tuesday afternoon to call on Congress to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the nations immigration and border control laws by years end.
At least 100 people were arrested, including several congressmen, after demonstrators sat down in the street in front of the Capitol. Protesters had vowed to engage in civil disobedience.
Among those arrested were several lawmakers, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. Gustavo Torres, head of Casa de Maryland, immigration lawyers, priests and labor activists also were taken into custody. The protesters were charged with crowding, obstructing and incommoding, a spokesman for the Capitol Police said.
Mental illness led to fiery suicide
The death of a New Jersey man who set himself on fire on the National Mall was the result of his long fight with mental illness, not a political statement, his family said.
John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel, N.J., poured the contents of a canister of gasoline on himself in the center portion of the mall Friday afternoon, police said. He then set himself ablaze.
89-year-old guilty of hauling cocaine
An 89-year-old Indiana man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Detroit to serving as a drug mule to distribute more than 1,400 pounds of cocaine.
Leo Sharp of Michigan City is one of the oldest criminal defendants in Detroits federal court. He was contrite and talkative during his appearance, saying he had never before committed a crime and that he worked for drug dealers because he needed money.
Prosecutors are showing mercy by recommending a five-year prison sentence because of Sharps age and his war service.
He playfully winked at drug agents in the second row who investigated the case. His hearing aids werent strong enough, so U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds invited Sharp to stand just a few feet away from her.
You knew it was cocaine, right? Edmunds asked. I did, Sharp replied. Oh, yes.
He admitted he transported more than 1,400 pounds of drugs that originated in Arizona.
Argentine president has brain surgery
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner underwent a successful surgical procedure Tuesday to remove a blood clot close to her brain.
The surgery was designed to drain blood and relieve pressure inside Fernandezs skull after a head injury that the government has not described. According to Argentine media reports, Fernandez will need weeks, perhaps months, to recuperate.
2nd team sent to Syria in search
Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said Tuesday the organization is sending a second team of inspectors to Syria to expand its high-stakes, high-risk mission to rid Syria of its poison gas stockpile.
Uzumcu called initial Syrian cooperation with the team last week a constructive beginning for what will nonetheless be a long and difficult process, according to an OPCW statement.
New threats against Pakistani girl, 16
The Taliban has issued a new threat against Malala Yousafzai, the teenager who was shot in the head by one of its fighters a year ago after she refused to halt her efforts to expose the plight of schoolgirls in Pakistan.
In a telephone interview late Monday, a top Taliban spokesman said the group will continue to look for opportunities to harm the 16-year-old girl so long as she remains an outspoken critic of efforts to impose strict Islamic law in Pakistan.
The threat comes amid speculation that Yousafzai, who sought refuge in England last year, is a leading contender to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.