Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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A long-shot effort to impeach Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) failed Thursday when the state House of Representatives passed a motion postponing indefinitely consideration of the impeachment order. The postponement measure, introduced by House Republican Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette, passed 96-52.

The LePage critics pushing the unprecedented impeachment effort faced an uphill battle, as even the leaders of the Maine's Democratic House did not publicly support the effort. The impeachment order would have been the first procedural step toward impeachment. It would have initiated an investigation of LePage that could have ultimately led to his impeachment. It listed eight allegations of inappropriate behavior by LePage, including the accusation that he pressured an education organization into firing Rep. Mark Eves, the Democratic speaker of the House, as its president by threatening to block state funding to one of its charter schools.

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Trevor Potter -- a former Federal Election Commission chairman who served as Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) campaign legal counsel in 2008 -- told Bloomberg View that he doesn't think Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has as strong a case for his eligibility to be President as McCain did.

"After conducting our legal analysis of the term 'natural born citizen' we were very comfortable with Senator McCain's eligibility based on multiple factors," Potter said. "Without those specific factors -- two U.S. citizen parents, birth on a U.S. base on U.S.-controlled territory -- our comfort level that the candidate met the constitutional requirement would have declined."

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The answer to the question of whether Ted Cruz is eligible to be president of the United States lies deep in the recesses of English political history, according to a constitutional law expert who has researched the issue.

Mary Brigid McManamon, a law professor at Widener University’s Delaware Law School, makes the case that Ted Cruz is not eligible to be president because “natural born citizen” applies only to those born within U.S. territories. She wrote a Washington Post op-ed this week arguing as such, and previously wrote a 2014 legal paper on the topic.

What is certain is that the Constitution's definition of “natural born citizen” has not been tested and remains open to interpretation. As Michael Ramsey, a former clerk of Justice Antonin Scalia, put it in a 2013 essay otherwise defending Cruz’s eligibility: “[I]t's a mystery to me why any one thinks it's an easy question.”

TPM talked with McManamon by phone Wednesday to ask her a few more questions about her theory, which she said rested on English common law stretching all the way back to 1350.

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President Obama spent much of his 2016 State of the Union addressing -- in thinly veiled language -- the Republican rhetoric in the race to replace him. But in doing so, he left out or glossed over some major Democratic policy positions, including policies that have been priority of his own administration.

Weeks after Obama signed executive orders refortifying gun laws, his biggest State of the Union statement on gun violence was visual: an empty seat in first lady Michelle Obama's viewing box to represent victims. In the speech itself gun violence was mentioned only once, when Obama was making the point that the speech wouldn't be a traditional State of the Union.

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President Obama promised a “non-traditional” State of the Union and indeed, his remarks in the U.S. Capitol sounded less like the usual laundry list of policy priorities and more like the President’s response to some of the gloom-and-doom rhetoric being bandied about on the 2016 campaign.

“I don’t want to talk just about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond,” Obama said.

Though he didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, some of Obama’s strongest lines were geared specifically at the GOP frontrunner’s proposals -- including deporting undocumented immigrants and banning Muslim immigration -- in the name of “making America great again.”

In particular, Obama denounced the recent anti-Muslim rhetoric espoused not just by Trump but by others in the GOP field. He also rebutted claims that the economy was in decline or that the country was no longer safe from foreign threats.

Here are those and other shots he took at Trump:

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Louisiana is now the latest state to participate in Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, with Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signing an executive order implementing the expansion Tuesday. The state is aiming for the program to be in effect by July 1, according to The Hill.

Edwards was sworn into office Monday, and Tuesday was his first full day in office.

Edwards defeated U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in November to succeed Republican Bobby Jindal -- an ardent Obamacare opponent -- in the governor's mansion. Edwards made expanding Medicaid a focal point of his campaign.

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Sen. Ted Cruz has found himself an unlikely ally in the ongoing birther debate in Cass Sunstein, a former White House official, who wrote in a Bloomberg View op-ed Tuesday, "On the merits, I agree with Cruz."

His op-ed comes as Donald Trump and other Republicans -- and even some legal experts -- have raised concerns that because Cruz was born in Canada, he does not meet the "natural born citizen" requirement to run for president under the Constitution.

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The Washington Post published an op-ed Tuesday by a constitutional law professor who asserts that due to his Canadian birth, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is not a natural born American citizen and thus is ineligible under the Constitution to be president.

"Let me be clear: I am not a so-called birther. I am a legal historian," Mary Brigid McManamon -- a constitutional law professor at Widener University’s Delaware Law School -- wrote.

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said that "it’s a question" whether Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) Canadian birth makes him ineligible for the presidency and is showing no interest in passing the type of legislation that helped Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) when similar concerns were raised about his birth on a U.S. military base in Panama.

“When Laurence Tribe says it’s a question, it’s a question,” McCaskill told the New York Times, referring to the Harvard Law professor who has been cited by Donald Trump as questioning Cruz's qualifications as "a natural born citizen."

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It looks like Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) will be following through on at least one of his anti-Obamacare campaign promises. The Courier-Journal reported Monday that Bevin sent a letter dated Dec. 30 to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell informing the agency he will be dismantling the popular state exchange program Kynect and transitioning to the federal health care marketplace.

The transition will not affect Kentuckians using Kynect during this current open enrollment period that ends Jan. 31, The Courier-Journal said, and Bevin has made it a goal to complete the switch by the end of 2016.

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