Eight weeks before the presidential election, new laws passed by Republican legislatures that concern who can vote and when remain in the hands of federal and state judges.
Among the cases: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week will hear an appeal to overturn that state's new voter ID law. An appeal is expected in a case involving early voting in Ohio. And a federal court is still considering whether South Carolina can go ahead with its new voter ID law.
The Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio faces questions about its accreditation because of a course description that links homosexuality with crimes like murder, rape and robbery.
The university's social work program offers the course, called SWK 314 Deviant Behavior. The course description reads: "The behaviors that are primarily examined are murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, homosexuality, mental illness and drug use."
There's a new stimulus plan underway in America: $5.8 billion is being injected into the U.S. economy, particularly in states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Florida.
We're talking of course about campaign spending, and this year's elections will be the most expensive in history. In fact, by the time we all head to the voting booth on Election Day, nearly $6 billion will have been spent on campaigns — big and small — all across America.
One overlooked part of the convention frenzy was the party platforms. They seemed to cause more embarrassment than excitement at the DNC, where party leaders fumbled at reinserting clauses about Jerusalem and God into their platform. And at the RNC, Rep. John Boehner admitted he'd never even read his party's platform. NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving joins weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz to talk about the platforms and what — if anything — they mean in 2012.
And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. There was a time when the Senate would, every once in a while, use a special tool to protect the rights of the minority party.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Half of official Washington is here to see democracy's finest show, the filibuster, the right to talk your head off, the American privilege of free speech in its most dramatic form.
Paul Ryan has a reputation as a deficit hawk. Mitt Romney's running mate has proposed budgets that cut non-defense spending significantly, and advocated controlling Medicare costs by making it a voucher program. But critics argue there's a lot in the Wisconsin congressman's record that undermines his deficit-hawk reputation.
When Ryan gave the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address last year, he restated his commitment to debt and deficit reduction.
Michael Chabon's latest novel, Telegraph Avenue, is named after the famed road between Oakland and Berkeley in California.
In the book, that's also where two couples — Nat and Aviva, who are white, and Archy and Gwen, who are black — are struggling to get by. The two men are friends, partners in a vinyl record shop. Their wives work together as nurse midwives.
Over the course of a couple of weeks, the characters deal with threats to their work, to their relationships and their very way of being. Chabon delves deeply into issues of art, race and sexuality.