Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

Jul 01, 2013

  • No, the Voting Rights Act Is Not Dead

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    When the Supreme Court handed down its verdict on the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, analysts had little doubt about what it meant: By sending the landmark civil-rights legislation back to Congress, the Court had essentially acted to kill it.

    Read more
  • Amid D.C. Gridlock, Has Supreme Court Stepped In?

    Woven into the Supreme Court’s spirited legal opinions about marriage equality and voting rights last week was the germ of an idea other powerbrokers raised in their own ways simultaneously: When Congress and the executive branch are at loggerheads, is there a perceived invitation for the court -- and other institutions with clout -- to march on in?

    Read more
  • Immigration Backers Outspent Opponents 2.5 to 1

    By Reid Wilson, National Journal's Hotline

    Backers of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that passed the Senate by a 68 to 32 margin on Thursday have outspent opponents of the Gang of Eight's bill by a huge margin, according to an analysis of advertising data from across the country, money that provided cover to key Democrats and Republicans who voted in favor of the bill.

    Read more

Jun 28, 2013

  • Senate Passes Sweeping Rewrite of Immigration Laws

    By Alan Gomez and Susan Davis, USA Today

    The U.S. Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill Thursday that would allow the nation's 11 million unauthorized immigrants to become U.S. citizens, overhaul the country's immigration system and spend billions to secure the southwest border with Mexico.

    Read more
  • Key Republicans To Watch In House Immigration Debate

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    Last week’s failure of the farm bill in the House brought to light the fragility of the GOP coalition in the House. Republicans may have a 17-seat majority, but it’s a majority in name only. The factions within the conference have made it almost impossible to corral even a majority of the majority (the so-called Hastert Rule) on bi-partisan pieces of legislation. As one former senior House staffer joked with me the other day, the only way the House will support legislation backed by the White House is when there is a new occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Read more
  • The Supreme Court's Pleasant Surprise for Affirmative-Action Advocates

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    The Supreme Court's decision on affirmative action Monday wasn't much of a decision. In a 7-1 vote, the justices sent the case, Fisher v. University of Texas, back to a lower court for reexamination (Justice Kagan recused herself).

    Read more
  • Will the GOP Embrace Marriage Equality?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    It was a busy week in existential threats to the Republican Party. Two issues that various Republicans have said require the party to evolve or die have been thrust into the national spotlight: Immigration reform is on its way to passing the Senate, and the Supreme Court offered two major victories for the supporters of marriage equality.

    Read more
  • Defense Officials Indicate NSA Leaks Have Had Consequences

    With Tom Gjelten, NPR

    Washington is still trying to determine how much damage has been done as a result of Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA surveillance. Snowden allegedly encrypted the files he took with him, but some officials fear Chinese or Russian intelligence services gained access to Snowden's computers.

    Listen here

Jun 27, 2013

  • Analysis: Supreme Court In No Rush to Grant National Gay-Marriage Right

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    When the U.S. Supreme Court declined on Wednesday to rule on whether gay men and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry, it delivered an implicit message to those seeking such a right: Don't hurry back.

    Read more
  • A Scramble to Change Federal Rules After Gay Rights Ruling

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Watch more
  • Court Underscores Political Shift on Same-Sex Marriage

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    The Supreme Court met the moment Wednesday. With public attitudes shifting dramatically in favor of same-sex marriage, the justices used a pair of rulings to give additional momentum to one of the most rapid changes in social policy in the nation’s history.

    Read more
  • Ruling Opens Immigration System To Gay Couples

    By Alan Gomez, USA Today

    Gay and lesbian couples will for the first time be able to secure green cards for their foreign spouses after the Supreme Court struck down a section of federal law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

    Read more
  • Court Rulings on Gay Marriage and Voting Rights Test GOP Makeover

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    House Speaker John Boehner spent at least $2.3 million to defend the federal law banning same-sex marriage -- a cause dear to the Republican base -- but you couldn't tell from his muted reaction when the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down.

    Read more
  • Texas State Senator Wendy Davis Filibusters Her way To Democratic Stardom

    By Karen Tumulty and Morgan Smith, The Washington Post

    Wendy Davis strode onto the floor of the Texas Senate chamber on Tuesday in rouge-red running shoes, and came off it early Wednesday morning as the Democratic Party’s newest star.

    Read more
  • African Terrorist Threat Not Far From Obama’s Mind

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    When President Obama lands in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, next week, he will see a city that reflects the rapid changes that are reshaping Africa. The traffic-snarled streets are a riot of bright color, with buildings painted in splashes of pink and orange sherbet, and pedestrians dressed in blaring red dresses and screaming yellow soccer shirts. On the shoreline, large container ships will be stacked to the horizon of the Indian Ocean, bespeaking the economic miracle that has brought Africa’s average economic growth rate on par with Asia’s at nearly 6 percent.

    Read more

Jun 26, 2013

  • With Snowden in Middle, U.S. and Russia Joust, and Cool Off

    By David Herszenhorn, Ellen Barry and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday appeared to rule out sending Edward J. Snowden back to the United States to face espionage charges, leaving him in limbo even as Moscow and Washington seemed to be making an effort to prevent a cold-war-style standoff from escalating.

    Read more
  • Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act, paves way for gay marriage to resume in California

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    In a pair of landmark decisions, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage, and it allowed gay marriage to resume in California by declining to decide a separate case.

    Read more
  • Analysis: U.S. chief justice realizes longstanding vision in voting-rights case

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    For an often enigmatic figure at the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts spoke to the essence of his legal philosophy on Tuesday in eliminating a voting-rights provision enacted to protect blacks and other minorities. His opinion for the court marks the culmination of an effort by conservatives, many of whom, like Roberts, cut their teeth in the Ronald Reagan administration, to ensure that federal voting requirements on the states be limited and race-based rules fade in contemporary America.

    Read more
  • Congress unlikely to act on voting rights ruling

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A divided Congress has no clear path to heed the call of Chief Justice John Roberts and President Obama to legislate in response to Tuesday's 5-4 Supreme Court decision that invalidated a portion of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    Read more
  • Try, Try Again

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    On Tuesday, President Obama tried two presidential adaptation strategies. The first was holding a White House meeting with congressional leaders about immigration reform. The second was an end-run around those same leaders with a speech announcing that the Environmental Protection Agency will regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants.

    Read more