Jan 18, 2017

Trump meets a Supreme Court ​candidate

Ted S. Warren / AP

Potential Supreme Court nominee Judge William Pryor spoke with Trump today, per an AP report. The Alabama-based judge serves on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and may be be tapped to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump also floated Diane Sykes for the seat. He's expected to make a decision within his first two weeks in office.

Alabama Connection: Pryor was the state's attorney general from 1997 to 2004. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump's AG pick, was his predecessor in the job. Both are Mobile natives and are said to have a close working relationship, according to the AP.

Would Pryor be a sticking points for Democrats? Maybe. Democrats fought back when George W. Bush nominated Pryor to the 11th Circuit. Bush then appointed him during a recess in 2003, and ultimately Pryor was confirmed (53-45). SCOTUSblog details Pryor's legal opinions; we sum them up below the fold.

On Roe v. Wade: Pryor thinks it is the "worst abomination in the history of constitutional law."

On Lawrence v. Texas: Pryor wrote a brief arguing in favor of the Texas law banning sodomy that Lawrence v. Texas struck down.

On criminal law: Pryor tends to rule in favor of the state. He has written 28 opinions on capital punishment, all of which favor the death sentence. Note that 17 of those decisions were unanimous. He has also denied stays of execution on the eve of three.

On civil rights: Pryor has ruled in favor of religious freedoms, has joined a decision in favor of a transgender employee in a wrongful firing case, and has challenged Georgia's voting ID law. Note that Pryor wrote the decision upholding a redistricting plan in Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama that the Supreme Court reversed on racial gerrymandering claims.

On free speech: This is a bit of a mixed bag. Pryor has ruled both for and against extending freedom of speech protections.

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Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

A couple takes photos in front of the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

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What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

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A poor response to the coronavirus could be politically devastating for President Trump, and so far his administration has given the strong impression that it’s still scrambling as the risk of a pandemic mounts.

Why it matters: There’s only so much any president can do to stop a virus from spreading, and for now the coronavirus is still very much under control within the U.S. But if the disease get worse in the months ahead, and if the administration seems to be caught off guard, that spells trouble for public confidence in Trump.

Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

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