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Morning Reads: In Scalia Successor Fight, Politicians Struggle to Appear Reasonable

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: In SCOTUS Fight, Pols Try to Appear Reasonable

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks back to his office after speaking to the media on Capitol Hill January 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Apple takes on the government –> James West at Mother Jones: A recent US District Court order in the San Bernardino murder case required Apple “to provide the FBI with software that would help it hack Syed Farook’s phone, something that has stumped the agency since the shooting on December 2, 2015.” In a strongly worded public letter, Apple CEO Tim Cook refuses to take a step that the company believes would compromise customers’ privacy. He writes: “… The FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.” Google announced it would support Apple.

AND: Klint Finley at Wired: “You may see Tim Cook as a champion of privacy or as an enabler of terrorism. Either way, it makes good business sense for Apple to stand up to the FBI.”

AND: At The New Yorker, read William Finnegan’s poignant account of the San Bernardino attack.

Gearing up for battle –> Kevin Drum at Mother Jones on the Supreme Court confirmation fight: “The political fight over the current vacancy on the Supreme Court is very simple: Conservatives want a conservative justice to replace Antonin Scalia and liberals want a liberal justice. The end.

“… Most people won’t care about this — they’re already firmly on a team — but there’s a small sliver of voters in the middle who do care, and they could make the difference in November. For that reason, it’s worth it for each side to try to rein in its extremists and put up a show of being the most reasonable.”

AND: At The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin report that some black Americans see Republican efforts led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to block Obama from appointing a justice as yet another attempt to delegitimize our first African-American president. Haberman and Martin add, “The anger and outrage that Mr. McConnell’s position has touched off among African-Americans could have implications for the presidential election. Leading African-American Democrats are trying to use it to motivate rank-and-file blacks to vote in November, the first presidential election in a decade in which Mr. Obama will not be on the ballot and in which Democrats fear black participation could drop.”

How they’d handle it differently –> Gabriel Dabenedetti reports for Politico that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are emphasizing different issues when discussing the future of the Supreme Court: “For Clinton, the opening on the court has provided a chance to aggressively talk about abortion rights, immigration reform and voting rights — issues that rile up her base and closely align her with the sitting president. For Sanders, however, it’s primarily a question of partisan obstructionism — and his standard go-to issue: campaign finance reform and 2010’s Citizens United v. FEC decision.”

Conflict of interest? –> At the time of his death, Antonin Scalia “was on a hunting trip at the 30,000-acre luxury resort of John B. Poindexter, owner of J.B. Poindexter & Co., a Houston manufacturing firm. The Supreme Court last year declined to hear a case involving an age-discrimination lawsuit against Poindexter’s company,” Claire Landsbaum writes for New York magazine.

AND: The episode conjures memories of another incident, write Mark Berman and Jerry Markon at The Washington Post: In January 2004, “Scalia joined then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney on a hunting trip while Cheney was the subject of a lawsuit over his energy task force, and in response to calls that he sit out the case, Scalia issued a highly unusual 21-page argument explaining why he refused to do so.”

AND: At Mother Jones, Pema Levy has your guide to right-wing, Scalia assassination conspiracy theories.

How hot is it? –> This visualization by Climate Central shows which states’ temperatures have heated up the most since 1970. ALSO: In a new series, Grist looks at how climate change and its causes affect our mental health.

Some questions –> Atlas Obscura went through all of the presidential candidates’ campaign finance disclosures, and came up with some questions about their purchasing habits. For example, “Did the Bush Campaign’s SuperPAC have to front his rent deposit for him?” And, “What $7,103 service did the Carson Campaign acquire over the course of several visits to ‘Apple iTunes’?” And, “Did the Clinton Campaign really hire a petting zoo in October? And also someone named ‘Silly Ricky’ in November?” And, “Where does the Cruz campaign store the $29,093 worth of flags they bought in Utah?”

Today’s Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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