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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 tiny bird made a surprise appearance on the podium of a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle Friday evening, getting a standing ovation from the crowd and spawning a series of #BirdieSanders memes.

As Sen. Sanders (I-VT) touted his campaign platform for college access the crowd noticed a bird lingering near the stage. Sanders worked the bird's presence into his riff to the delight of the crowd, which erupted in cheers when the bird landed on his lectern.

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As Donald Trump lurches toward a delegate count that would win him the GOP nomination, frightened Republicans have floated yet another alternative plan in the case that he tops the GOP’s 2016 ticket: a third party or independent bid by a respectable conservative who would give voters frustrated by the choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton another option.

It’s an idea that has been touted by #NeverTrump-ers like neocon Bill Kristol and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) who want to stymie the damage they see Trump doing to their party but can’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton. A group of conservative activists and GOP operatives met in Washington last week to discuss the path forward if Republicans were to pursue that alternative. Trump, meanwhile, is warning such a scenario would “destroy the country.”

Experts in ballot access and independent presidential campaigns told TPM that, in a purely logistical sense, a third party or independent presidential bid is still feasible. But whether anti-Trump Republicans literally still have time to get a conservative alternative on the ballot almost misses the point. The effort, which will be costly and still needs big-bucks donors, comes with its own set of political risks that call into question the entire undertaking, including the very real possibility that it will make Hillary Clinton the next president.

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The male conservative justices on the Supreme Court had a brilliant idea for everyone fretting over a world where religious-minded employers could deny female employees contraceptive coverage.

Let’s just let those women buy contraceptive-only coverage through the ACA exchanges!, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Anthony Kennedy all proposed during Wednesday's Zubik v. Burwell hearing.

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The latest play by President Obama’s administration to pressure Republicans to consider Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is a speech Vice President Joe Biden will give at Georgetown University Law School Thursday afternoon. Biden will use his own record as a member of Senate Judiciary Committee -- which typically leads the Senate's confirmation process -- to argue the Senate should hold hearings and a vote for Garland, according to excerpts of the speech provided to TPM.

“In my time as the ranking Democrat or as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I was responsible for eight nominees to the Supreme Court—some I supported, others I voted against,” Biden will say. “And in all that time, every nominee was greeted by committee members. Every nominee got a committee hearing. Every nominee got out of the committee to the Senate floor. And every nominee, including Justice Kennedy—in an election year— got an up or down vote by the Senate. Not much of the time. Not most of the time. Every single time.”

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Update: Health care policy experts explained to TPM why the options floated by the court's conservatives were unworkable. Read more here.

The Supreme Court hearing Wednesday on Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate presented the fourth challenge to the health care legislation since it was passed 2010, and thus the fourth opportunity for the justices to grapple with the thorny trade-offs of health care policy as they collide with abstract concepts of law.

Judging by the questions from conservatives on the court -- all men -- they’re still not fully aware of how every day people -- particularly women -- receive health care in the United States, or how health insurance actually works.

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Donald Trump amped up his already heated rhetoric about the use of torture to extract information from terrorism suspects, speaking via telephone interview to CNN after Tuesday's terrorist attack in Brussels.

"Look, I think we have to change our law on the waterboarding thing, where they can chop off heads and drown people in cages, in heavy steel cages and we can't water board," Trump told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We have to change our laws and we have to be able to fight at least on almost equal basis. We have laws that we have to obey in terms of torture. They have no laws whatsoever that they have to obey."

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More turmoil in the Virgin Island Republican Party erupted Tuesday as the GOP chair there announced the disqualification of six delegates that had been selected to represent the territory at the Republican convention and the elevation of new delegates in their place.

The now-disqualified delegates include GOP strategist John Yob, along with his wife Erica and Lindsey Eilon, who were all already the subject of scrutiny after allegations that Yob had falsified information on his voter application. Virgin Island GOP Chairman John Canegata issued a statement Tuesday saying the Yobs, Eilon and three other delegates had been replaced over a violation of Virgin Islands Republican Party rule which says delegates must within five days of the caucus "confirm in writing, that he or she accepts election” and that they are “willing and able” attend the Republican National Convention.

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Count Wednesday’s hearing on a challenge to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate among the cases where the stakes have been somewhat defused by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. The religious non-profits bringing the case face an uphill battle with their arguments that the accommodation granted to them to opt out of the birth control coverage mandate is still a burden on their religious beliefs.

Even before Scalia’s unexpected passing last February, the case was already considered somewhat of an overreach by the conservative forces pushing the court to take up the challenge. But without Scalia’s fifth vote, the challengers will need to sway the vote of one of the court’s four liberals -- who all signed on to most of Justice Ruth Ginsburg’s scathing dissent defending Obamacare in Hobby Lobby -- or hope for a 4-4 split decision that punts the case until Scalia’s seat is filled.

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President Obama used the beginning of a speech scheduled Tuesday morning during his trip to Cuba to comment on the Brussels attacks that have left at least two dozen people dead.

"The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the people of Belgium. And we stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people," Obama said. "We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally, Belgium, in bringing to justice those who are responsible."

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In her initial public response to Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Brussels, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the attacks on a Belgium airport and a metro station were a “terrible horror.” But she also expressed a more measured tone than some of her 2016 rivals.

"This is a time for us to reaffirm our solidarity with our Europeans friends," she said, calling into the Today Show Tuesday morning.

"It's unrealistic to say we're going to completely shut down our borders to everyone,” Clinton said. “But we have to do a much better job in coordination with the Europeans on tracking and following anyone who has any connection with terrorist activity or terrorism."

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