Tales from the Trail

Obama visits Supreme Court that he could reshape

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama has lunched at the White House and paid his respects to Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.

On Wednesday it was the turn of the judiciary.    OBAMA/

Obama visited the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land that he could reshape after becoming president next week.Obama, who has vowed to name judges with empathy for ordinary people, met privately for one hour with Chief Justice John Roberts and seven other justices.

There were no details of the meeting and tour, which included Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

The only absent justice was Justice Samuel Alito, a spokeswoman said. She did not know why he did not attend, even though he had had been at the court for the morning arguments.

As senators, Obama and Biden both voted against Roberts and Alito, President George W. Bush’s two conservative appointees to the court. Obama said they were more likely to side with the powerful than the powerless.
Roberts, who will administer the oath of office to Obama next Tuesday, invited Obama and Biden to visit the Supreme Court in a Dec. 5 letter, to “become better acquainted.”

The double life of Robert Gates

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is leading a double life these days.
 
Maybe that’s not so tough for a former spymaster but it does make for some awkward moments.
 AFGHAN-USA/GATES
As the only member of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet asked to stay on under Barack Obama, Gates has to juggle working for the current White House and preparing for the next administration with the president-elect’s transition team.
 
“There’s only one commander-in-chief at a time and so I’m not forgetting at all, for a second, who is the president until noon on Jan. 20,” the former CIA director stressed to reporters on board his plane as he flew to Afghanistan this week.
 
But Gates admitted his dual role did “create some occasional awkwardnesses.”
 
Sometimes, he recounted, he has to say: “I would love to come to this meeting at the White House but I actually have a meeting with the transition.”
 
Gates made clear he had never missed a meeting with Bush.
 
But he added: “Let’s just say that if I’m faced with a choice between attending a principals’ meeting on an issue that I think is not particularly hot and meeting with the transition folks, I’ll opt for the latter.”

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Photo credit: Reuters/Pool (Gates shakes hands with U.S. Air Force officials at a base in Kyrgyzstan on Dec. 11)