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Across the Nation: High-court pick to face long odds

Obama’s sacrificial lamb: High-court pick to face long odds 

WASHINGTON — Wanted: Top legal mind with Supreme Court aspirations, to serve as a national political football. Candidate must be camera-ready and prepared for disappointment. Contact Barack Obama.

Republicans refusing to hold a vote or hearings on any candidate nominated by Obama have complicated his sales job as he seeks a replacement for Antonin Scalia. Though Obama insists he’ll put forward an “outstanding candidate” no matter what the GOP says, the White House is hard-pressed to offer a convincing scenario in which that person gets confirmed.

Overnight, Obama’s nominee will become the face of well-financed, high-intensity, election-year campaigns both for and against that will rage across the country. Though guaranteed at least a footnote in the history books, the nominee will have little ability to influence the debate and even less control over how the chapter plays out.

For a Supreme Court hopeful, the scenario is less than ideal. High-ranking judges and others fit for consideration tend to be loath to throw themselves into the middle of public controversy. Already, two politicians whose names were floated as possible contenders took themselves out of the running. California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is running for U.S. Senate, said she wasn’t interested, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has said she doesn’t want to be considered.

“As much as you tell them it’s not really about them, judges don’t engage in politics and take pride in their impartiality,” said Christopher Kang, who prepared lower-court nominees for confirmation as former deputy White House counsel. “It can be hard for them not to take it personally.”

To be sure, a Supreme Court seat is most jurists’ dream job. Anyone asked to serve in the coveted, lifelong post would find it hard to turn down.

And there could be some hope. Despite the GOP’s hard line, Republicans could relent and confirm Obama’s nominee — especially if he picks a so-called consensus nominee — someone so well-regarded that Republicans lack a compelling rationale to reject him or her. Among those Obama is considering is Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, said two people familiar with the process, who weren’t authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity

Obama waxed hopeful on Wednesday that GOP opposition would fizzle once the “abstraction” is replaced with a living, breathing person.

“Let’s see how the public responds to the nominee that we put forward,” he said in the Oval Office.


Appeals court upholds limit on sharing of tips among workers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a U.S. labor department rule that limits the ability of a restaurant, casino or other employer to share tips among its employees.

The rule at issue in Tuesday’s decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was put forward by the labor department in 2011. It prevents employers from sharing tips left for waiters and other staff that normally receive tips with dishwashers, cooks and other backend staff.

The 9th Circuit said the rule was consistent with Congress’s goal of ensuring tips stay with employees who receive them.

The court overturned district courts in Nevada and Oregon.

Paul DeCamp represented restaurant associations in Oregon and Washington that challenged the 2011 rule. He said there was a decent chance one of the plaintiffs would appeal.

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