The New York Times, Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox, and Washington Postall lead with the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that Congress can cut off funds to universities that don't allow military recruiters the same access on campus as other employers. The Los Angeles Timesleads with an interview with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, who skipped the talking points. The "potential is there" for civil war, he said. "If another incident [occurs], Iraq is really vulnerable to it at this time, in my judgment."The LAT contrasts that with the happier talk coming from the Pentagon and White House. Iraq is "going very, very well, from everything you look at," said top Gen. Peter Pace Sunday. One beef: Why doesn't the LAT post a transcript of the interview? If it did, we could be sure there's no cherry-picking. USA Todayleads with a new analysis showing increasing numbers of minorities moving to the Sun Belt and Rocky Mountain states.
Universities argued that dissing military recruiters was a free-speech issue. Giving recruiters full access, they contended, would amount to a kind of forced endorsement of the military's policy of discriminating against gays. Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the ruling, said no dice. The law linking recruiting access to funding "neither limits what law schools may say nor requires them to say anything."
The NYT and LAT front South Dakota's governor signing a near-total ban on abortion. The law, which is meant to challenge Roe v. Wade, has no exception for incest or rape. It's not scheduled to take effect until July—and the courts are sure to block it before then. With five pro-Roe votes still on the Supreme Court, the law's backers appear to be hoping one of them retires before it makes its way up there.
The NYT says "abortion rights advocates responded with fury." Only in their press releases, says the LAT, which notes that on the inside those advocates are feeling warm and fuzzy. As USAT also emphasizes, many anti-abortion types are actually bummed about the new law. The reason for the seeming Bizzaro World response: People on both sides think the law will serve as a big banner for abortion-rights groups—and then get knocked down by the Supremes. If abortion-rights groups play it right, said one such advocate, "this might be the best thing that ever happened to the pro-choice movement."
The WP alone fronts the commander of Iraq's army in Baghdad being killed by a sniper. About 20 Iraqis were killed in assorted attacks around the country, including from a car bomb south of Baghdad that killed six. One soldier was reported killed in western Iraq.
The NYT fronts the U.S.'s seemingly desperate attempts to de-militia-fy the Iraqi police. Quotas have been set to pump up the numbers of Sunni recruits, and police commanders who have allowed Shiite militia in their ranks are being "fired." The Times doesn't really explain how the U.S. has the power to do all that, or what the interior minister thinks, particularly considering that he himself has been linked to militia.
The WP goes inside with a few tribes in western Iraq banding together and "declaring war" on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's jihadist group. It's the latest sign, among many, of Zarqawi earning enemies among Sunnis. "It came from a need to destroy al-Qaeda, which we thought the Marines might have been able to do," said one tribal chief. "We were wrong, since these armed men became stronger and raped other cities."
The NYT goes inside with Russia seeming to split with the U.S. and Europe on Iran and proposing to let Tehran make a bit of nuclear fuel. The details are sketchy, but it doesn't bode well for the (always long-shot) hope that Russia will get tough and agree to sanctions.
A front-page piece in USAT tallies 2,154 flights on corporate jets taken in the last five years by "members of Congress" and "aides to President Bush's re-election campaign." As has been mentioned before, these folks get a fairly reasonable deal; they have to pay the equivalent of first class. The most generous provider of trips: U.S. tobacco.
The papers all give some front-page play to the death of Kirby Puckett. The Hall of Famer and long-time Minnesota Twins centerfielder died of a stroke. He was 45.