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Credit…Erin Schaff / The New York Times

Justice Clarence Thomas, who has gone a decade without questioning the Supreme Court, is close to completing a term in which he actively participated in every argument.

Judge Thomas’ shift from monastic silence to gregarious engagement is a byproduct of the pandemic, during which the court heard arguments over the phone. Judges now ask questions one at a time, in order of seniority.

Judge Thomas, who joined the court in 1991, comes in second, just behind Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., asking probing questions in his distinctive baritone.

“This has been a lemonade out of lemons situation,” said Helgi C. Walker, an attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who served as a forensic clerk. “I’m just so happy that more people are hearing from Judge Thomas whom we all know.

“He can be one of the most talkative people you’ve ever met,” she says. “He is extremely talkative.”

In telephone arguments, he asked tough questions from both sides and almost always used the few minutes allotted to him. The idiosyncratic legal opinions that characterize his frequent concurring and dissenting opinions were largely absent from his questioning, which was measured and straightforward.

If Judge Thomas’ questions differed from those of his colleagues, it was in their courtesy. He hardly ever interrupted the lawyers, although he asked specific follow-up questions if he had time.

Some of his most memorable comments were colored sides.

In the last term, Judge Thomas reflected on rising salaries for college football coaches, said the alleged ‘chase’ of a police officer had struck him as a ‘winding chase’, the ‘roots commented. sordid “of an enacted Louisiana law. to advance white supremacy and wondered how public schools should respond to student feedback “on current controversies, like the protests or Black Lives Matter, antifa or Proud Boys.”

When a lawyer mistakenly called him “Mr. Chief Justice, “he replied in a light and joking tone,” Thank you for the promotion. “

Live updates: Republicans push Biden to cut infrastructure plans
Credit…Pete muller

Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss has quietly become one of the largest donors to left-wing advocacy groups and an increasingly influential force among Democrats.

Recently obtained tax returns show Mr Wyss’ foundations donated $ 208 million from 2016 early last year to three nonprofits that distributed money to a wide range of groups who supported progressive causes and aided Democrats in their efforts to win the White House and control. of Congress last year.

Representatives for Mr Wyss say his foundation money is not being spent on political campaigning. But documents and interviews show that its foundations have come to play a leading role in funding the political infrastructure that supports Democrats and their problems.

Mr Wyss’s foundations have also directly donated tens of millions of dollars since 2016 to groups that oppose former President Donald J. Trump and promote Democrats and their causes.

Recipients of his direct donations included prominent groups such as the Center for American Progress and Priorities USA, as well as organizations that conducted voter registration and mobilization campaigns to increase Democratic turnout, Built Media accused of tilting the news in favor of Democrats and sought to block Mr. Trump’s candidates prove he is in collusion with Russia and push for his impeachment.

Mr Wyss’s growing political influence has drawn attention after emerging as one of the top bidders for newspaper chain Tribune Publishing last month. Mr. Wyss subsequently abandoned the tender for the papers.

Born in Switzerland and residing in Wyoming, he has not publicly disclosed whether he holds citizenship or permanent residence in the United States. Foreign nationals without permanent residence are prohibited from giving directly to federal political candidates or political action committees, but not to groups that seek to influence public policy – a legal distinction often lost to voters targeted by these groups.

Mr Wyss’s role as a donor is emerging even as Congressional Democrats, with Mr Biden’s backing, push for legislation to curb so-called dark money spending that could restrict some of the groups funded by Mr. Wyss’s organizations.

Live updates: Republicans push Biden to cut infrastructure plans
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Biden will engage Senate Republicans in further talks this week as both sides seek a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure, but it seems unlikely that he will reduce his economic ambitions by $ 4 trillion in the talks.

Mr Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, are scheduled to visit an elementary school and community college in Virginia on Monday to promote his administration’s plans, which include a significant investment in education.

Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain told CBS ‘Face the Nation on Sunday that the president would host a group of Republican senators, including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

But Mr Klain warned that the scale of spending Mr Biden had proposed – including a $ 2.3 trillion package focused on physical infrastructure such as roads and water pipes and a 1 , $ 8 trillion to invest in “human infrastructure” like education and child care – was popular among American voters and the president would seek Republicans to live up to that enthusiasm.

“I think what we need to see is whether or not Republicans in Washington are joining the rest of America in broadly supporting these common sense ideas to grow our economy and improve our families,” Klain said. .

Several Republican senators said on Sunday that there was a possibility of compromise if Mr Biden slashed his spending plans and abandoned his proposals to pay them with tax increases on top incomes and businesses.

“Democrats and Republicans meet,” Sen. Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, told “Meet the Press” on NBC. “We have phone calls scheduled this week. I met the White House at the end of last week. There is a way forward here if the White House is willing to work with us. “

Last month, Republicans proposed a more targeted plan to pay for infrastructure, including roads and bridges, with funding coming from user fees and money reallocated from the disaster relief bill. $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus that Mr Biden signed in March. They are now asking the president to make a counter offer.

Mr. Biden, however, seems unlikely to do so. White House aides say privately they don’t see the Republican plan as being up to Mr. Biden’s. Much of the spending in the Republicans’ $ 568 billion proposal would only continue spending on existing infrastructure, such as on highways, to planned levels. The “new” spending could be as low as around $ 200 billion, less than a tenth of what Mr. Biden is proposing.

Still, administration officials see a path to compromise, potentially breaking up some smaller parts of Mr. Biden’s plans as stand-alone bills. Klain noted one such effort on Sunday, a bipartisan bill to increase spending on water infrastructure that passed the Senate by an 89-2 vote last week.

“We’re going to be working with the Republicans,” Mr. Klain said. “We will find common ground. You know, the Senate last week passed with overwhelming leeway part of a water infrastructure bill that is part of – tied to our jobs plan. So I think you’re starting to see some progress here. “

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