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In the spotlight


Now Sen. Sam Brownback is doubly at the center of the action.With two Supreme Court positions now vacant, Brownback -- perhaps the most conservative member of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- is in prime position to shape the future of the American judiciary. And, perhaps, burnish his presidential prospects as well.Here's some links to stories about the Supreme Court, with mentions of Brownback's role in all of this.[(Block News Alliance) Senate panel to look into Roberts' past:][1] The only Republican senators who have shown shades of skepticism about Judge Roberts are the committee's most junior member, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and its most conservative member, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, a possible presidential contender in 2008. Both are fierce opponents of abortion rights who would like Judge Roberts to indicate he would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade. In a recent interview with the editorial board of the Wichita Eagle, Senator Brownback said Judge Roberts "looks pretty good," but added that it was important to "trust but verify."[(Newsweek) John G. Roberts: What Answers Is He Going to Give?:][2] A source close to the prep who requested anonymity to speak more freely about the process says Roberts will likely follow the lead of Clarence Thomas, who confirmed a constitutional right to privacy encompassing contraception but steered clear of specifics on abortion in his hearings. "This discussion on the right to privacy will be important," says Sen. Sam Brownback.[(History News Network commentary) John Roberts Is Being Victimized Because He's a Catholic][3] Perhaps more important than this hint of anti-Catholic prejudice, the hearings are likely to expose the growing division within American Catholicism. On one side are liberal Catholics such as Sens. Richard Durbin, Patrick Leahy and Edward Kennedy, who believe that difficult moral issues such as contraception and abortion are matters of personal conscience, not canon law. On the other side are conservative Catholics such as Roberts and Sens. Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback, who are deeply loyal to the teaching authority of the church. The friction between these two factions may well be played out in the Senate hearingsThere's surely more to come on all this...Pat Roberts links [(Kansas City Star) Pension reform proposals face several hurdles in Congress:][4] Fixing the nation's private pension system is a matter of some urgency because of the $23 billion deficit facing the federal pension insurance agency, Republican and Democratic lawmakers say. "We can't afford not to address pension reform," said Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that is expected to take up the issue as early as this week.Todd Tiahrt links [(Boston Globe) Gun control efforts weaken in South:][5] Pinpointing the precise source of guns smuggled into the Northeast is difficult, analysts say, because last year Congress inserted a provision into a spending bill that prevented the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives from releasing federal data about where guns used in violent crimes originated. The amendment, sponsored by US Representative Todd Tiahrt, a Kansas Republican, prohibited the ATF from releasing documents related to ''traces" of guns. Local authorities can request traces for individual firearms to locate the owner of a stolen gun or in criminal investigations, but they don't have access to traces requested by other agencies.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][6] [1]: http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050904/NEWS08/50904040 [2]: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9189581/site/newsweek/ [3]: http://www.hnn.us/articles/14994.html [4]: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/politics/12562815.htm [5]: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2005/09/04/gun_control_efforts_weaken_in_south/ [6]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed


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