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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If an unexpected order the Supreme Court issued in an Obamacare case could be seen as a last ditch effort to avoid a four-four split, the challengers in the case do not look too eager to play along.

Both the U.S. government and the religious organizations suing it weighed in on what seemed to be a compromise proposal by the Court in the case -- in which religious organizations are objecting to the accommodation offered to them as a part of Obamacare's contraceptive mandate -- and neither side was too happy with it.

But, while government begrudgingly signaled it would accept the tweaks to the current workaround that the Supreme Court floated, the challengers in the case doubled down on their arguments that female employees should do the extra work to get birth control coverage if their employers object to it and that coverage must come through a separate "contraceptive-only" plan. Their posturing isn't going to make life easy for the eight-justice Supreme Court to avoid a tie vote, which threatens a patchwork system where some employees' access to contraceptive coverage could depend on where they live.

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In a court filing in the criminal case against former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) arising from his alleged sexual abuse of minors when he was a wrestling coach, his lawyers questioned whether an alleged "groin rub" amounted to "sexual misconduct."

The lawyers said the incident, as described by one of the accusers, "remains ambiguous" and that the accuser in his interview with the authorities said he was "‘not sure if [Dennis] touched [Individual A’s] genitals or brushed his genitals.'"

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Nebraska Republicans fell short Tuesday in achieving their long-held goal of returning the state to a winner-take-all system in the Electoral College A bill that would have undone its current proportional system -- which allowed President Obama to peel away a single electoral vote from the state in 2008 -- failed by a single vote to overcome a filibuster in its final procedural step, the New York Times reported.

Nebraska is one of two states (the other being Maine) that awards some of its electoral votes according to the popular vote in each of its congressional districts, a system Nebraska has had since 1991. Supporters of the system says that making the state somewhat competitive for Democratic presidential candidates energizes voters and attracts attention to the state from campaigns. Only in 2008 did the electoral vote split however.

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Death threats -- including threats that describe death by hanging.

References to where you live.

Not-so-subtle allusions to your family.

Warnings that your personal information will soon become public -- or perhaps it has already.

These are just some of the reports coming in from low-level GOP officials around the country about the threats they claim to have received from pro-Trump forces. As Trump accuses other politicians and the party at large of denying him delegates, ominous messages believed to be coming from freelance Trump backers -- usually hiding behind anonymity -- have injected fear and anxiety into the usually low-stakes delegate selection process at the local and state level.

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Hard right members of the House of Representatives have picked a new venue for fighting with their GOP leaders: a soon-to-be-released documentary film.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), an outspoken member of the House Freedom Caucus, touted the documentary produced by The Blaze that he and fellow caucus member Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) participated in Monday. The documentary “District of Corruption," premieres later this week, and judging by the trailer, it takes some serious shots at current and former Republican leaders who have long been in the House Freedom Caucus' line of fire.

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Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) pushed back at criticisms of the ongoing GOP SCOTUS nominee blockade he is helping to lead by arguing that "[t]he sky didn’t fall" in past when the court was down a justice.

"So, despite hyperbolic rhetoric, the court will continue to function. And even cases that split evenly will likely be few and far between," Grassley wrote in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register published Sunday.

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The signs that the Supreme Court is grappling with a depleted bench are starting to show. But what has been a trickle of tie-votes, bizarre orders and slowed activity could turn into a series of orders with contradictory effects as the court is confronted with an onslaught of election-related litigation in the lead-up to Nov. 8.

As the last stop for lawsuits challenging voting restrictions and administrative practices, the Supreme Court would normally see an increase in those cases as the 2016 election draws closer. But the ideologically split court will be facing more than the usual uptick in requests for the justices to intervene in legal battles over voting laws. The 2016 election marks the first presidential election since the Supreme Court crippled the Voting Rights Act and ushered in a wave of voting restrictions now tied up in lawsuits.

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A few more Republican senators are scheduled to meet with President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, White House Deputy Press Secretary Jennifer Friedman told reporters on Air Force One Friday.

Some of the Republicans who will meet with Garland are facing tough re-election fights, and are feeling the pressure from both sides when it comes to the GOP's vow not to consider a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia until a new president is elected.

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The challengers in a Supreme Court case that sought -- and failed -- to cripple public unions are asking the high court to rehear the case once it has a ninth justice, after the court's 4-4 tie in March meant a lower court ruling against them would stand.

The lawyers representing teachers and the religious teachers' organization in Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association filed the long-shot petition Friday.

"The current vacancy will inevitably be filled, and once it is, the tie will be broken. It makes sense to hold the case for resolution until the Court is capable of resolving it," the petition said.

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