IN THE EYE OF THE STORM

When Texas Republicans began hunting for a state Supreme Court candidate in 1994, they approached a bright young oil-and-gas lawyer named Priscilla Owen. She'd been the top scorer on the Texas bar exam and, at 30, made partner at a prestigious Houston law firm, but she was hardly a political animal. Owen, then 40, hadn't done any of the customary glad-handing. She even had to check with the local clerk to see whether she'd voted in the last Republican primary. When she met with former Texas...

THE WAR ON JUDGES

It was meant as an olive branch in a time of escalating hostilities. For months, members of Congress had been railing against federal judges, lambasting their decisions and vying to limit their power. So Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor embarked on a quiet campaign to quell the tensions. Several months ago O'Connor invited a handful of House Republicans to a private lunch at the court. In a small dining room outside her chambers, the group discussed judicial philosophy over sandwiches...

A Matter of Restraint

When Jessica Gonzales was ending a difficult marriage in 1999, she turned to the legal system for help. Her estranged husband, Simon, had attempted to hang himself in the garage, called the house at all hours, and had terrified Gonzales and their three young daughters by hiding in dark corners and leaping out, she says. "He used to toy with us," she says. "We didn't know what he was going to do." He had threatened to buy a gun and to abduct the girls from school, Gonzales recalls. That May, she...

Ailing Chief Justice in No Rush to Go

Despite a New York Post report that the chief justice appeared frail during a visit to the Capitol last week, court insiders say he has regained strength. After a wheelchair ride through the underground corridors of the Capitol, Rehnquist got up and walked the route to the inaugural platform that he'll travel later this week. Although his voice is raspy and he hasn't appeared on the bench--a recent statement blamed "secretions" from his radiation treatment--he has been performing other duties...

ANXIETY OVER ABORTION

The week after Thanksgiving, dozens of Democratic Party loyalists gathered at AFL-CIO headquarters for a closed-door confab on the election. John Kerry dropped by to thank members of the liberal 527 coalition America Votes. When Ellen Malcolm, president of the pro-choice political network EMILY's List, asked about the future direction of the party, Kerry tackled one of the Democrats' core tenets: abortion rights. He told the group they needed new ways to make people understand they didn't like...

DRUG WARS AHEAD

The political campaign may be over, but the battles over prescription drugs are heating up. Last month the Food and Drug Administration drew new scrutiny after an FDA regulator told Congress that the agency was "virtually incapable of protecting America" from unsafe drugs like the arthritis medication Vioxx. But while Congress and the White House are contemplating changes in the system, the more immediate concern for most Americans is simply how to pay for the prescription drugs they need. Drug...

Farewell to the Cabinet

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson became the eighth member of George W. Bush's cabinet to resign on Friday afternoon. As governor of Wisconsin for 14 years, Thompson gained a reputation as a no-nonsense welfare reformer. In Washington, he initially chafed at working in a huge bureaucracy. But then he navigated terror threats--he built a high-tech HHS war room outside his office--and controversies like stem-cell research. He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Debra Rosenberg shortly after he...

OF PRAYER AND PAYBACK

All year long, the Rev. Pat Robertson kept his distance from the Bush-Cheney campaign. In 1992 he'd used a prime-time speaking slot at the Republican convention in Houston to rail against abortion, homosexuality and a decadent American culture. But this time the controversial televangelist didn't even bother to reach out to the campaign directly until a few days before voters headed to the polls. On tour to promote a new book on the Supreme Court, Robertson touched off a media frenzy by...

FIRMLY IN CONTROL

He may have won re-election and a majority in both houses of Congress, but George W. Bush shouldn't expect a free ride on Capitol Hill. Republicans maintained their control of the House and expanded their lead in the Senate, with at least 54 seats in their column (the results of the Alaska race were not clear at press time). In South Dakota, former representative John Thune even managed to bump off Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle, the first Senate party chief to be ousted at the polls in...

WINNING THE 'VALUES' VOTE

For weeks, gay-rights activists had been bracing for the worst. Pre-election polls told them that contentious anti-gay-marriage initiatives, on the ballot in 11 states, would likely pass in all but Oregon. One by one on Election Day, those predictions came true. And then some. In the end, it was a clean sweep--even libertarian-leaning Oregon eventually voted to outlaw same-sex marriage by 56 percent, despite a $2.8 million push by gay groups. In eight states, including Ohio, Michigan and Utah,...

A LONG SHADOW

At a reunion with his former law clerks in May, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was in a reflective mood. As more than a hundred clerks and other guests dined in an elegant room at the court, the oldest justice rose to make a speech. Stevens quickly invoked one of the most painful moments in the court's recent history--Bush v. Gore, the controversial 5-4 decision that handed George W. Bush the presidency in 2000. He paid tribute to the hardworking clerks who had weathered the electoral...

MEDICARE: FADING SENIOR SUPPORT?

After AARP chief Bill Novelli decided to back George W. Bush's Medicare prescription-drug bill, some 70,000 members quit in protest. Observers called the deal a political win for Bush; ecstatic Republicans touted the new alliance with the seniors' lobby. But nearly a year later the political calculus has changed. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, nearly half of seniors had an unfavorable impression of the Medicare plan. Novelli still insists he made the right call. "We have...

KENTUCKY'S PAIN

THREE YEARS INTO THE WAR ON OXYCONTIN ABUSE, THE CASUALTIES CONTINUE. BUT THERE'S HOPE WHERE IT ALL BEGAN.

DEATH PENALTY:CAMERAS REPORT, THE JURY DECIDES

On the first vote, half the jurors were ready to send Mark Ducic to his death. After several days of tense deliberations in an Ohio courthouse, they had already convicted Ducic of mass murder--killing two people with lethal cocktails of prescription drugs. Now they had to consider his fate.Juror 12, a strong-willed New Jersey native named Carmella Juarbe, had nearly held out for acquittal in the first place. As the rest of the jury began to compromise on a life sentence, Juarbe insisted on...

THE GAY WAR ROLLS ON

On Main Avenue in Brookings, S.D., a smartly dressed woman spotted John Thune, the Republican running to unseat Sen. Tom Daschle, and charged across the street, her smile beaming and her hand outstretched. "I'm with you," 62-year-old Connie Burdick told Thune. "Something's got to be done," she said, to stop the downfall of traditional values. It's the gay-marriage issue that riles Burdick, an issue that Thune is betting will knock down the Democratic Senate leader.Days before the Senate failed...

JUDGING THE PERCENTAGES

The Supreme Court ended its term last week with a flurry of important decisions--and no resignations. It's been 10 years since the last vacancy on the high court, the longest dry spell since the early 1800s. Several justices, including Chief William Rehnquist, have hinted that they'd like to step down. But none apparently wanted to do so in an election year when it would be tough to get a successor through divisive Senate confirmation hearings. And while the current justices aren't getting any...

POLITICS: A GAY-MARRIAGE WEDGE

He hadn't used the phrase "sanctity of marriage" since March, but at the Southern Baptist conference last week, President Bush reiterated his call for a no-gay-marriage amendment. Then Senate GOP leaders said they'd bring the issue to a vote in July. Why the sudden heat? It's a wedge issue for Democrats, peeling off traditional constituencies like African-American clergy. It also boosts Bush with the right, which has grumbled that he's been too quiet on gay marriage. The Senate vote is set just...

Calling it Quits

For the past several years, Supreme Court buffs have speculated on which of the court's nine long-serving justices might retire. But this week it was the government's chief advocate, U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, who said he was calling it quits. In holding the post for three years, Olson personally argued 26 cases before the High Court--and has won 20 of them so far. He also managed to attend virtually every one of the 180 or so cases argued by his office. Now Olson says he's eager to...

The 'Will &Amp; Grace' Effect

For Richard and Jeanine Benanti, opposing same-sex marriage was an easy call. "It's against nature, it's against society and it's against the Bible," says 49-year-old Richard, who works for the Boys and Girls Club in Springfield, Ill. His wife, Jeanine, a 46-year-old stay-at-home mom, shared his feelings. "The way I was raised, as a Catholic, marriage was always between one man and one woman," she says. "I don't see how you could make it anything else." The Benantis took their three children to...

Stem Cells: A Bipartisan Push For More Lines

When George W. Bush announced his policy on funding embryonic-stem-cell research in 2001, scientists complained that the restrictions would cripple their work. The administration said as many as 78 stem-cell lines would be available, but as of last week only 19 were actually ready for use. Private institutions and states like New Jersey--which this week will launch a state-funded stem-cell research institute--have tried to fill the gaps. On Capitol Hill, Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat, teamed...

'It's Hard To Get It Right'

Dick Cheney isn't Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's only friend in Washington. For years the justice has socialized with Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the powerful Judiciary Committee. Their sons played soccer together and, despite the senator and the justice's obvious philosophical differences, the men have enjoyed each other's company. But when Leahy heard that Scalia went duck hunting with the veep a few months before the court was slated to hear a case involving Cheney,...

GENERATION AMBIVALENT

One night last week in downtown Washington, D.C., the NARAL Pro-Choice America "march action center" hummed like a campaign headquarters on election night. Fueled by pizza and soda, a few dozen volunteers glued a thousand placards onto cardboard handles in just half an hour. They had only days left before the first large abortion-rights gathering in more than a decade--the April 25 "March for Women's Lives." Some of the volunteers reminisced about marches of years past. But Laura Kopp, 18, had...

'All is at Risk'

Kate Michelman began her career working with special-needs children. But she's best known as a champion of abortion rights-a cause she adopted after her own humiliating experience with a pre Roe v. Wade abortion. President of NARAL Pro-Choice America for more than 18 years, Michelman plans to leave her post at the end of the month, after the massive "March for Women's Lives" planned for April 25 in Washington, D.C. Last week in her NARAL offices, Michelman sat down with Debra Rosenberg,...

A FAMILY AND A FLAG

If you had happened to spot Dr. Michael Newdow returning his legal books to the public library in suburban Sacramento, Calif., earlier this month, you might not have suspected that the barefoot man clad in rumpled jeans and a puffy green ski jacket was a respected emergency-room physician. Or that he'd earned a law degree from the prestigious University of Michigan. Or that before the month was out, he would argue one of the most significant legal cases of the year before the U.S. Supreme...

Protest and Prayer

What is a prayer? That's just one of the questions at the heart of the case heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional "establishment" of religion. Dr. Michael Newdow, a California atheist arguing his own case before the court, contended that the pledge is "an affirmation" and that the words "under God" are "as purely religious as you can get." Lawyers for the California school district and the U.S....

A FALLING OUT AMONG FRIENDS

David Catania has been one of George W. Bush's most loyal supporters. The Washington, D.C., city councilman has raised nearly $80,000 for the president's re-election. He's a Bush delegate to this summer's GOP convention and holds a seat on the platform committee, which shapes the party's official agenda. But last week Catania, like many other gay Republicans, was furious at the president's backing of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Now he's dropping his fund-raising efforts and...

SOMETHING ABOUT MARY

In a campaign consumed with Vietnam War records and elusive weapons of mass destruction, the candidates have so far tiptoed around the season's touchiest wedge issue: gay marriage. Though advisers to George W. Bush hinted that the president would soon throw his support behind an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman, he has yet to do so. And John Kerry hasn't been eager to detail his more nuanced stance against both gay marriage and any...

GUN CONTROL: 'GORED'? NOT IN '04

In 2000, Al Gore proposed issuing federal licenses to gun owners. The idea didn't sit well in conservative Red States and, some say, it may have cost him the election. Now a new survey of presidential candidates suggests Democrats are moderating their stances. All six major contenders--Wes Clark, Howard Dean, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman--oppose both the licensing of gun owners and the registration of handguns. (Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun support both;...

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