Today's Papers

Supreme Turn

The New York Timesand Washington Postlead with the Supreme Court ruling that federal civil rights laws that protect workers against discrimination also cover those who faced retaliation for complaining about bias in the workplace. The Los Angeles Timesdevotes its top nonlocal spot to the twin decisions that said workers, including federal employees, are protected from retaliation, even if the federal laws don’t explicitly say so. The majority in the 7-2 and 6-3 decisions emphasized that the justices relied on Supreme Court precedent that had previously found an implied right to sue for retaliation. The decisions don’t really change the broad outlines of employment law, but they were somewhat surprising coming from a Supreme Court that had been keeping itself busy by issuing a series of pro-business rulings and limiting the rights of workers.

The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with Sen. John McCain announcing that he would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the United States if he’s elected president. In a speech that aides said marked a break with President Bush, McCain vowed to work more closely with Russia on nuclear disarmament. Although McCain said nuclear weapons are “still important to deter an attack,” he emphasized that “we must seek to do all we can to ensure that nuclear weapons will never again be used.” USA Todayleads with economists’ warning that housing prices are likely to continue declining, even as a new survey detailed that they’ve already experienced their sharpest drop in at least 20 years. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which was created in 1988, home prices dropped a record 14.1 percent in the first three months of the year compared with the first quarter of last year. “We forecast another 10 percent drop from current levels and bottoming out in 2009,” one economic analyst said.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court found itself in an unusual position where it was praised by civil rights advocates and criticized by business groups. The WP mentions that some are wondering whether the court was reacting to the condemnation it received after last year’s decision that prevented a worker from suing her employer for pay discrimination. The NYT called it “especially significant” that Chief Justice John Roberts joined a decision that mentioned the importance of adhering to precedent when he has previously spoken about his “distaste for precedents in which the court has gone beyond a statute’s text to infer a basis for a lawsuit.” USAT says the rulings are an “intriguing development” for a group of justices who chose to go against precedent in several rulings last year that dealt with a variety of issues, including abortion and campaign finance.

The WP fronts an early look at former White House press secretary Scott McClellan’s new memoir that is surprisingly critical of the Bush administration. What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception will be released next week, but the WP, NYT, and WSJ were able to buy a copy yesterday. (Politico beat all the papers with its own account that was posted yesterday afternoon.) The NYT points out that the book is particularly notable because it “is the first negative account by a member of the tight circle of Texans” who followed Bush to Washington. McClellan writes that the administration carried out a “political propaganda campaign” to convince the public about the need to invade Iraq.

McClellan also says he was deceived about the role that Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby played in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. In a potentially explosive bit, McClellan suggests that Rove and Libby may have coordinated their stories about the Plame leak during a secret meeting. Overall, Bush is portrayed as a president obsessed with winning a second term, which “meant operating continually in campaign mode: never explaining, never apologizing, never retreating.” He also has harsh words about the way the administration handled Hurricane Katrina and is critical of the press (“complicit enablers”) as well as several members of the administration, including Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The LAT is alone in noting up high that experts say McCain’s  nuclear policy speech “marked a less dramatic break from the current administration than his campaign suggested.” The one thing everyone can agree on, though, is that yesterday provided a revealing glimpse at how McCain is playing a delicate balancing act as he tries to win over big Republican donors while also highlighting his independence from the unpopular president. After the speech that McCain’s aides were eagerly touting as a break with the president, the presumptive nominee went to Phoenix and joined Bush at a fundraiser. The event was held behind closed doors, and the two made time only for a brief photo op at the airport that lasted less than a minute. But even though they kept their joint public appearance to a minimum, the day’s events provided plenty of material for Sen. Barack Obama to point out that McCain is trying to hide his connections with Bush because he “doesn’t want to be seen, hat in hand, with the president whose failed policies he promises to continue for another four years.”

The WP fronts a look at how more Americans are filing for bankruptcy even though a 2005 law made the whole process more difficult and expensive. The total number of bankruptcy filings increased 38 percent last year compared with 2006, in an ominous sign of how many people are struggling to get by in the United States. Although filing for bankruptcy was once more common among those who had abrupt life changes, such as a divorce or illness, experts say all types of people who simply have too much debt are choosing to pursue such a drastic measure. “It is pretty widespread because there are widespread problems in the economy,” one economist said.

The NYT points out that many angry parents of the estimated 10,000 children who died in China’s earthquake are abandoning their usual apprehension about confronting the Communist government. Parents are getting together at informal gatherings to angrily demand that the government investigate why so many schools collapsed and punish those responsible for what appears to have been shoddy construction work. Even more out of the ordinary is the fact that protesters are angrily confronting government officials in the streets, and there have been clashes with the police that left several people injured. Officials are insisting that they will investigate but say they must first deal with the needs of survivors.

The LAT says that the paparazzi have found a new favorite target: Miley Cyrus. Although the 15-year-old star of Hannah Montana is nowhere near as famous as the likes of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, the number of photographers that chronicle her every move has increased in the past few months. Photographers report that after her infamous not-quite-nude picture appeared in Vanity Fair, following Cyrus around suddenly became more lucrative. But, so far at least, Cyrus has avoided Spears-like attention simply because she’s boring by tabloid standards. “You’re not going to get cocaine-snorting, addled teen queens, are you?” the co-owner of a big paparazzi agency said. “The first kiss is going to be worth a lot of money.”