WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, appeared to offer strong praise for the pick of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Monday, saying that the choice of a Latina judge represents a long-overdue nod to America's growing diversity.
It was wrong for the country to wait until 1967 to put the first African-American, Thurgood Marshall, on the high court, Specter said. It was also wrong to wait until 1981 to put the first woman, Sandra Day O'Connor, on the court.
Specter made his remarks during the first day of Sotomayor's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings.
Specter, a former chairman of the committee, switched from the Republican to the Democratic party earlier this year. A number of liberal critics have expressed concern that he will not be a reliable Democratic vote.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The federal budget deficit increased in June as spending surged and tax receipts sunk, pushing the total budget shortfall to over $1 trillion in the first 9 months of the fiscal year, according to a government report released Monday.
The Treasury Department said the June deficit was $94.3 billion, a reversal of fortune from the $33.5 billion surplus the government managed in June 2008. In May, the deficit was $189.7 billion.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a budget deficit of $97 billion. The Congressional Budget Office had also forecast a $97 billion shortfall last month.
The deficit was the largest shortfall the government has ever recorded in the month of June, and the first time it has come up short in June since 1991, according to a Treasury official. The largest monthly deficit on record was February 2009, when the government increased its shortfall by $193.9 billion.
For the first nine months of the fiscal year, which began in October, the total deficit hit $1.09 trillion.
In the first nine months of 2008, the United States government was $285.9 billion in debt. For all of fiscal 2008, the government racked up a $454.8 billion shortfall.
Spending surging, income shrinking: The government has been spending at a breakneck pace to slow the deceleration of the economy in the current recession. At the same time, tax revenue from companies and individuals has declined, adding to the shortfall.
So far in fiscal 2009, the government has spent $2.67 trillion, but it has only taken in $1.59 trillion.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and a former State Department official, said Monday that she is considering running for political office sometime in the future.
"It's something I may well may do down the road," Cheney said in an interview with the Washington Times. "I hope to have the opportunity at some point to have that make sense for my family and everything else that's going on."
Cheney has addressed this possibility before, telling Fox News in May that she wasn't thinking about running for office anytime soon because she was focused on raising her five kids and helping her father write his memoirs.
Cheney has made headlines in the past few months for defending her father and attacking the Obama administration's national security policy. She also said in the interview that recent reports that the former vice president ordered the CIA to withhold information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress are just political cover for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"It gets more and more appalling everyday," she said. "I think they're very worried about Speaker Pelosi."
(CNN) - Rep. Joe Sestak's re-election campaign reports Monday that the Pennsylvania Democrat raised more than $1 million in this year's second quarter, with around $4.2 million in the bank.
The two-term congressman from Pennsylvania's 7th District has said that he will challenge Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic Senate nomination next year. Specter, a long time Republican, switched his party registration to Democrat earlier this year and has the backing of President Barack Obama and party leaders, as he gears up for re-election in 2010.
Sestak is in the middle of a tour of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, and could have an official announcement regarding a Senate bid when that tour is over at the end of the month.
"We believe this means we will have more cash on hand than any Senate challenger. As you know, this was achieved without the institutional support of the Democratic establishment," says Sestak spokesman Joe Langdon.
Specter's campaign has not released their second quarter figures yet. At the end of the first quarter, Specter had more than $6.7 million in the bank.
Earlier Monday Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey said his campaign for the Senate has raked in $1.6 million since he jumped into the race on April 15. Toomey's campaign also announced that they have $1.1 million cash on hand.
(CNN) - Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey says his campaign for the Senate has raked in $1.6 million since he jumped into the race on April 15.
Toomey's campaign also announced Monday that more than 15,000 people from across the country have contributed and that as of the end of June, the campaign had $1.1 million cash on hand.
"I am honored by all the people who have contributed to my campaign since my announcement," Toomey said in a statement. "These contributions come from folks across all of Pennsylvania and the country who know that America has a better future than the runaway spending and endless bailouts that are coming from Washington today. Together, I believe we can bring fiscal responsibility, political balance, and economic growth back to our country."
(CNN) – The father of Sarah Palin's grandchild is continuing to speculate on why the Alaska governor decided to abruptly resign her post, telling CNN Monday it's likely because she was overly stressed and wanted to cash in on lucrative offers.
"I think it's because she got a few offers and she decided to take the money and she was a little stressed out at the same time," Levi Johnston said.
Also appearing on NBC Monday, the 19-year old added, "There have been a few times when she talked about how it is a very stressful job. I can understand that, and then after the campaign we had tons of offers coming in and all kinds of ridiculous things."
He also said Palin wanted to do a reality show, though her children were against it.
"There was talk about it'd be nice to just take the money and run or do a reality show maybe or something easier," he said. "There was talk about it but us and the kids, we didn't want to do any of that."
Johnston, who himself has said he has received multiple offers for television shows, also said he thinks the Alaska governor markedly changed after her losing bid as the GOP vice presidential candidate.
"She wasn't as outgoing and I just didn't see the spark in her eyes about being the governor anymore," he said. "She became quiet, she would come home and just hang out in a room, you could tell something was wrong."
Declaring "fame got to her head," Johnston also said he would not vote for Palin after her latest actions.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Monday that Sonia Sotomayor is likely to be confirmed as the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Unless you have a complete meltdown, you're going to get confirmed," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in his opening statement at the confirmation hearing for Sotomayor, a federal appellate judge.
Graham described Sotomayor as "someone of good character," but he questioned her past speeches that he said expressed the possibility of bias based on gender or race.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl said Monday that while Judge Sonia Sotomayor's "background creates a prima facie case for confirmation," many of her past statements regarding the role of race and gender in judicial decision-making have raised serious questions about her suitability for the high court.
Among other things, Kyl cited Sotomayor's oft-cited comment that a wise Latina woman should be able to reach a better ruling than a white man.
Every person should have emphathy, Kyl also argued, but it is problematic when empathy becomes the key "ingredient" in reaching decisions.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch said Monday that he intends to evaluate Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination for the Supreme Court based in part on standards emphasized by President Barack Obama when Obama served in the U.S. Senate.
Speaking during the opening session of Sotomayor's confirmation hearing, Hatch specifically cited a speech Obama gave on the Senate floor in June, 2005, when the then-Illinois senator opposed President Bush's nomination of Judge Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Hatch quoted Obama as saying that "the test (of an effective judge) is whether he or she can effectively subordinate their views in order to decide each case on the facts and the merits alone. That is what keeps our judiciary independent in America."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor began Monday with leading Democrats and Republicans signaling a fierce ideological debate over her qualifications to become the nation's first Hispanic justice on the high court.
The Judiciary Committee is considering whether Sotomayor, a federal appellate judge, should be the 111th person to sit on the nation's highest court. If confirmed by both the committee and the full Senate, she would be the third woman justice.
"Judge Sotomayor's journey to this hearing room is a truly American story," committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said after gaveling the first session to order. "Hers is a success story in which all Americans can take pride. ... Let no one demean this extraordinary woman."