WASHINGTON (CNN) - If Sonia Sotomayor fulfills her long-held dream to sit on the Supreme Court, she would have the prestige of joining the highest court in the land, lifetime job security, and a public forum as the first Hispanic on that bench.
The 55-year-old judge would also have the opportunity to become a influential force among her colleagues, a legal pioneer who could help shape the law and its effect on society in any number of ways. But such a legacy would not come easily and it certainly would not come quickly. The internal dynamics of a body built on tradition and stability have long discouraged swift and sweeping forces that are regularly felt in the other branches of government, and society at large.
If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor would become the junior justice, someone with the least seniority but no less authority than her eight benchmates. She would bring with her a bit of history, along with the public attention and political scrutiny that would follow.
"It's a step forward for the country. Having someone who's in a permanent lifetime appointment at the highest levels of the government who has this background, both economically and ethnically, is a big deal, it's a moment," said Thomas Goldstein, co-founder of scotusblog.com whose has argued before the justices as a private attorney. "The idea that a Democratic president did this and embraced them in this way will not be forgotten."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele dismissed recent extramarital affairs by two prominent members of his party as "old news, old school" at a GOP dinner in Indianapolis on Wednesday night.
Steele was referring to headline grabbing stories like admissions of infidelity by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Nevada Sen. John Ensign, and suggested he has moved on.
"That's not the generation of candidates I'm trying to groom," Steele said, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Steele said the Republican Party should get back to its small-government roots and listed Republican governors like Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mitch Daniels of Indiana of Indiana as "laboratories for the ideas we believe in."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Republican National Committee will unveil a new Web video Thursday critical of President Obama's plan to revive the economy.
It is the third such video released by opponents and supporters of Obama's stimulus strategy in the past 24 hours. The Democratic National Committee released a Web video criticizing House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, for recent comments he made on the plan, and House Republicans have issued their own video critical of the plan.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - Police arrested 26 demonstrators at the Capitol Thursday during their protest of federal AIDS policy.
Police said the protesters were arrested for unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.
The demonstration by dozens of AIDS activists at the Capitol Rotunda coincides with this week's congressional talks over the financing of a health care reform plan.
The group, Health Global Access Project, wants increased HIV/AIDS funding in the health care plan, including more funding for global AIDS programs and AIDS housing programs, they said in statement.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Lawmakers searching for a way to pay for health care reform are facing some rough waters.
Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said repeatedly that health reform would be paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
Baucus and others have made some progress through savings in Medicare, Medicaid and other programs.
On Wednesday, for instance, Vice President Biden said hospitals would reduce costs by $155 billion over 10 years. But nothing is final until that deal between the White House and business - and a similar one reached with drugmakers last month - is written into legislation.
And on the revenue side of the equation, there is still no apparent consensus.
(CNN) - A street vendor in Ghana's capital sells small American flags with an image of President Barack Obama on them, in front of a billboard that proclaims "Akwaaba" - or "Welcome" – next to a smiling image of the U.S. leader.
When Obama arrives in Accra on Friday night, he will be the third sitting American president to visit the West African nation of Ghana. But unlike Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Obama is only visiting Ghana and no other country in the continent.
He said he picked Ghana as the first African country he would visit as U.S. president partly because of the "democratic commitments" demonstrated by President John Atta Mills, who took office in January after a close election.
"By traveling to Ghana, we hope to highlight the effective governance that they have in place," Obama said Tuesday in an interview with AllAfrica.com.
During his 24-hour visit to Ghana, Obama will meet with the president and address parliament before he and First Lady Michelle Obama tour the Cape Coast Castle, which was used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) - If Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin thought her decision to step down might end ethics accusations against her, she quickly found out she was wrong.
Just days after her bombshell resignation announcement, a new ethics complaint was filed with state authorities arguing that she should not be able to claim per diem funds when she stays at her Wasilla, Alaska, home instead of Anchorage or Juneau, where she has offices. The complaint says she was charging the state when she stayed in Wasilla and commuted to her offices.
The governor's mansion is located in Juneau.
Palin claims she is the target of the "politics of personal destruction," as she and some staff members face 19 filings regarding allegations of ethical violations.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The nation's secretary of health and human services said Thursday that some vaccine to fight the H1N1 virus should be available for distribution in mid-October.
Kathleen Sebelius' announcement came at the opening of a "flu summit" called for by the Obama administration. She spoke to a seminar of governors, top health planners and managers who have gathered to discuss preparations for a possible swine flu reappearance this fall.
Health care workers hope to evaluate a candidate vaccine in early August, said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who also spoke at the meeting.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama still inspires confidence, but a new national poll indicates that the number of Americans who say he is a strong leader and is tough enough to handle a crisis has dropped significantly over the past few months.
Seventy-two percent of people questioned in a CNNCNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday morning (PDF) believe Obama inspires confidence. That's down three percentage points from a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted in February.
Seven out of 10 also said the president is a strong and decisive leader. But that figure is down 10 percentage points from the opening days of Obama's presidency. Sixty-four percent said that Obama is tough enough to handle a crisis, down nine percentage points from February.