Indiana's next state Supreme Court justice will complete the remaking of the bench, as all five justices will be white and will have been appointed since 2010 by Republican governors.
The state's Judicial Nominating Commission on Wednesday chose three finalists to succeed Justice Robert Rucker, who is retiring May 12. Once the names of the finalists — Judges Vicki Carmichael, Christopher Goff and Matthew Kincaid — are sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb, he'll have 60 days in which to choose one to succeed Rucker.
Here is some background on the finalists, Rucker and the court.
Carmichael, 54, has been a Clark Circuit Court judge in the Ohio River county just north of Louisville, Kentucky, since 2007. She would be the high court's third female justice ever, including its current chief justice, Loretta Rush. Carmichael, who's married and has an adult daughter in college, was a city court judge in Jeffersonville for six years before becoming a county judge. Unlike the other two finalists, who are Republicans, Carmichael is a Democrat. She previously was in private practice and served as a public defender. She's a graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.
Goff, who turns 45 on Tuesday, has served as a Wabash Superior Court judge since 2005. In his application for the high court seat, he wrote that the courts in Wabash County, located in northeastern Indiana, are among the state's busiest based on the number of cases assigned to each judge. Goff, who is married and has two daughters, previously worked in private practice. He's a graduate of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
Kincaid, 46, has been a Boone Superior Court judge in the county just northwest of Indianapolis since 2003. Like the other finalists, before becoming a judge he was a lawyer in a private practice. This is Kincaid's second time as a finalist for the state Supreme Court. The Judicial Nominating Commission also selected him last year as one of three finalists to succeed Justice Brent Dickson. Then-Gov. Mike Pence chose Indianapolis attorney Geoffrey Slaughter for that vacancy. Kincaid, who is married with three children, is a graduate of the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.
Rucker, 70, announced in January that he would retire this spring, five years before reaching the court's mandatory retirement age. His last day on the bench is May 12. Rucker was named to the bench in 1999 by Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon, becoming only its second black justice ever. His departure will leave the court with only white justices, and all three finalists for his vacancy are white. Rucker is the court's only remaining Democratic appointee.
INDIANA'S REVAMPED COURT:
When Rucker's replacement is named, all five members of the state's highest court will have been appointed by Republican governors. Indiana University law professor Joel Schumm said that's the first time that's happened since Indiana voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1970 creating a commission to pick finalists for the governor to choose from. He said he doesn't think the change will be particularly significant because Indiana justices have a long tradition of not being politically ideological in their rulings. The governor's pick will join Rush, Justice Steven David, Justice Mark Massa and Justice Geoffrey Slaughter on the court. Given the ages of the justices, Schumm says they could be together on the court for about 15 years.
Somewhere between the Republican caricature of the next justice of the Supreme Court as a folksy family guy and the Democrats' demonization of him as a cold-hearted automaton, stands Neil Gorsuch.
Largely unknown six months ago, Gorsuch has seen his life story, personality and professional career explored in excruciating detail since he was nominated by President Donald Trump 10 weeks ago.
The portrait that emerges is more nuanced than the extremes drawn by his supporters and critics.
Gorsuch is widely regarded as a warm and collegial family man, boss and jurist, loyal to his employees and kind to those of differing viewpoints. He also has been shown to be a judge who takes such a "rigidly neutral" approach to the law that it can lead to dispassionate rulings with sometimes brutal results.
Four times during his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch invoked a "breakfast table" analogy, telling senators that good judges set aside what they have to eat — and their personal views — before they leave the house in the morning to apply the law and nothing else to the facts of the cases at hand. It was all part of Gorsuch's artful effort to reveal as little as possible of his own opinions.
Government employees in California cannot keep the public from seeing their work-related emails and texts sent on personal devices and through private accounts, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday, closing a loophole that justices said could have allowed the "most sensitive and potentially damning" communications to be shielded.
With the ruling, California joins a growing list of states that treat public business done through private accounts as public records.
"This ruling is a model for giving government transparency laws meaning in the digital age," said Matthew Cagle, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which filed a brief in the case.
The ruling came in a lawsuit against the city of San Jose. City Attorney Richard Doyle said he was not surprised by the decision and did not plan to challenge it. But he said it raised practical challenges for cities and counties.
He was opposed by the Republican establishment. During a contentious campaign he spoke forcefully about the need to crack down on immigration. And he used millions of his own money to bolster his political career.
President-elect Donald Trump? No, Rick Scott, the current governor of Florida.
While they are oceans apart in temperament and public demeanor, Scott and Trump were both political neophytes who came from a business background and won elections despite being viewed as longshots unable to convince voters to look past their controversial histories. Scott and Trump, who is vacationing this week at his home in Palm Beach, are also long-time friends.
“One of the reasons I always believed he would win Florida … is that Florida had already elected someone similar to him,” Scott said when discussing Trump’s nearly 113,000-vote victory in the Sunshine State, which helped propel him to victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
And as the country gets ready for a Trump administration his friend and political ally Scott may prove a valuable example of the challenges that lie ahead.
After being in office for five years Scott has been forced to drop campaign promises, alter his stance on key issues and deal with an ongoing divide with members of his own party. But Scott has also shown that it can be wrong to underestimate him.
When he first ran for office in 2010, Scott, a multi-millionaire, used his experience as a former health care executive and outsider as a tonic for Florida’s double-digit unemployment rate and struggling economy. His bid for governor was staunchly opposed by GOP leaders who were backing then-Attorney General Bill McCollum.
With a campaign aided by one of the same pollsters who helped Trump, Scott poured tens of millions of his own money to pay for television ads that hammered McCollum over immigration. In the ads Scott promised to push a law styled on one in Arizona that would allow police to check someone’s immigration status.
Ukraine's ousted president on Monday testified in the trial of five former special forces policemen charged with fatally shooting scores of demonstrators, and denied giving orders for them to shoot at the protesters.
Between Feb. 18 and 20, 2014, 72 protesters died on the Maidan square, most shot by police or snipers. There were also 13 deaths among the police and the Ukrainian special forces. The shootings were the bloody climax of months of demonstrations in Kiev against President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia days later.
Yanukovych, who gave testimony to a Kiev court on Monday from a courtroom in Russia, said he did not give orders to his forces to open fire on protesters and "could not have possibly given such orders."
The hearing was originally scheduled for Friday but the judge had to postpone it after nationalist activists blocked the entrance to the jail where the policemen who are on trial were held.
Ukraine's prosecutor-general took the floor in the middle of the proceedings to tell Yanukovych that Ukraine has launched another investigation and that he could face charges of treason.
A prosecutor who was questioning Yanukovych on Monday signaled that the evidence that was uncovered points to Russian interference in Ukraine. The prosecutor quoted Yanukovych's phone billing information and other case files, saying that Yanukovych's prime minister met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the first day of shooting on the Maidan, and that Yanukovych had had numerous phone calls with pro-Russian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk. Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk's daughter.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is calling fellow conservatives to continue the work of the late Justice Antonin Scalia to keep the power of the courts and other branches of government in check.
Thomas tells 1,700 people at a dinner in honor of Scalia that the Supreme Court has too often granted rights to people that are not found in the Constitution. He cited the decision in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal across the country.
Thomas said he and his longtime friend and colleague formed an "odd couple" of a white New Yorker and a black man from Georgia.
He paraphrased Lincoln's Gettysburg address to exhort the audience to "be dedicated to the unfinished business for which Justice Scalia gave his last full measure of devotion."
A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court's order blocking Indiana Gov. Mike Pence from barring state agencies from helping Syrian refugees resettle in the state.
A three-judge panel for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Monday agreed with an injunction a federal judge issued in February. The judge found Pence's directive "clearly discriminates" against refugees from the war-torn nation.
The appeals court says federal law doesn't allow a governor "to deport to other states immigrants he deems dangerous."
Donald Trump's running mate, Pence, was among dozens of governors from mostly Republican states who tried to block Syrian refugees after the Paris terror attacks last November.