WASHINGTON (CNN) – Two key Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced their opposition to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Friday, a further sign the party's conservative base is uniting against President Barack Obama's first high court pick.
Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah - the former chairman of the committee - and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas - head of the party's Senate campaign committee - announced on the Senate floor their intention to vote against the 55-year-old federal appeals court judge.
Hatch's decision came as somewhat of a surprise. The veteran Republican has voted for every high court nominee in his 32-year Senate career - including President Bill Clinton's two liberal choices, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
Hatch had praised Sotomayor's "credentials and experience" and the fact she would be the first Hispanic justice. But despite the nominee's compelling life story, Hatch said that controversial off-the-bench comments by Sotomayor troubled him.
"I reluctantly, and with a heavy heart, have found that I cannot support her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court," Hatch said in a written statement.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama will posthumously award a soldier who died fighting in Afghanistan the prestigious Medal of Honor on September 17, 2009, the White House announced Friday.
Obama will give the award to Staff Sergeant Jared C. Monti, who died while trying to save a comrade. Monti "displayed immeasurable courage and uncommon valor," the White House said in a press release.
The Medal of Honor is given to members of the Armed Forces for acts of extraordinary bravery, or for risking their own lives to save those of their comrades.
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) – President Obama should apologize to members of the Cambridge Police Department for saying they acted "stupidly" in the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., said Dennis O'Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, at a news conference Friday.
ARLINGTON, Texas (CNN) - To begin with, Gregory Rose didn't have health insurance. Plus, it was finals week. So his first instinct was to ignore the pain.
A walk across his apartment convinced him otherwise.
"My hip was like on fire, grinding" is how he recalled the morning seven months ago that changed everything. "I know pain, and I've never felt that kind of pain before," Rose said.
At the hospital, a blood test with startling results: a dramatically elevated white blood cell count. He had leukemia, at 23.
Rose had no health insurance because he was too old to be covered on his parents' policy and too young and seemingly healthy to think he needed it.
So count Rose among the estimated 47 million Americans who lack health insurance, and as a resident of a state with the highest percentage of uninsured: Nearly one in four Texans do not have health coverage.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A leader of an influential group of conservative House Democrats urged congressional leaders to slow the pace of health care deliberations Friday.
Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross, a key member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition, said he remains concerned that the legislation currently being pushed through Congress does not do enough to rein in spiraling medical costs.
Ross' comments came a day after the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate said the chamber won't vote on a health care reform bill until after the upcoming August recess.
The announcement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada went against President Barack Obama's stated timetable for both the House and Senate to turn out bills by the August break.
(CNN) - Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch said Friday he will vote against Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court, the first time the Utah Republican has voted against a high court nominee in his three decades as a member of Senate Judiciary Committee.
"After thoroughly reviewing Judge Sotomayor's record and being able to hear her testimony and responses during the hearing process, I reluctantly, and with a heavy heart, have found that I cannot support her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court," Hatch said in a statement. "In truth, I wish President Obama had chosen a Hispanic nominee that all Senators could support. I believe it would have done a great deal for our great country."
Hatch's announcement came shortly after fellow Senate Judiciary Committee Republican John Cornyn also announced he would not support Sotomayor. So far South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is the only Republican on the panel who has said he will vote for Obama's Supreme Court pick.
Sotomayor will become the first of 11 Supreme Court nominees Hatch will vote against.
Full statement after the jump:
(CNN) - Texas Republican John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced Friday he would vote no to confirm Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
The former Texas State Supreme Court justice questioned Sotomayor's "objectivity and neutrality" given a string of court rulings and her past statements.
"I went into the hearing with an open mind. I felt she deserved the opportunity to explain how she approached some of the most controversial cases on which she's ruled and put her public statements in context," he said.
"At the end of the hearing I found myself wondering who is the real Judge Sonia Sotomayor," Cornyn said.
Earlier in the week, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham became the first Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee to announce he would support Sotomayor. In all, five Republicans have said they will vote to confirm Obama's choice for the high court.
(CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney is standing by his efforts in the final days of the Bush administration to secure a presidential pardon for I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, calling his former chief of staff an "honorable man and a faithful public servant."
"Scooter Libby is an innocent man who was the victim of a severe miscarriage of justice," the former vice president said in a statement. "He was not the source of the leak of Valerie Plame's name. Former Deputy Secretary of State, Rich Armitage, leaked the name and hid that fact from most of his colleagues, including the President."
"Mr. Libby is an honorable man and a faithful public servant who served the President, the Vice President and the nation with distinction for many years," Cheney also said. "He deserved a presidential pardon."
The statement comes as Time magazine reported Friday the extent to which Cheney unsuccessfully pressed former President Bush to grant Libby a pardon.
According to the magazine, securing the pardon had "had become something of a crusade for Cheney, who seemed prepared to push his nine-year-old relationship with Bush to the breaking point - and perhaps past it."
Libby was convicted of obstructing a federal investigation into the revelation that Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA agent. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000. Bush commuted the sentence, which he called "excessive," but refused to issue a full pardon.
CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama administration is touting a provocative proposal to give a medical advisory council the power to help decide the scope of coverage that would be eligible for reimbursement under Medicare.
Administration officials say the proposed council would improve health care quality and control costs. But some health care industry groups object to the proposal, saying such a council would not be qualified to make those judgments.
This council would consist of doctors and health care experts who make recommendations based on extensive data and analysis of best health care practices, according to administration officials.
Proponents believe the approach would improve care and eliminate some wasteful spending by doctors who are now paid separately for each visit and procedure they authorize. Instead, this council could recommend, for example, a comprehensive approach to treat a patient with chronic heart condition or high cholesterol.
BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) - North Korea launched a scathing personal attack on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday after she likened the leadership in Pyongyang to "small children and unruly teenagers and people who are demanding attention."
At a meeting of southeast Asian nations in Phuket, Thailand, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman blasted Clinton for what he called a "spate of vulgar remarks unbecoming for her position everywhere she went since she was sworn in," according to the state-run KCNA news agency.
The spokesman called Clinton "by no means intelligent" and a "funny lady."
"Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping," the statement said.