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Huge stakes for GOP’s Obama court challenges

House Speaker John Boehner speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 9, 2014.

House Speaker John Boehner speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 9, 2014.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Huge stakes for GOP’s Obama court challenges
• Power Play: Can wedge issues save Senate again for Dems?
• Perry gets a fresh start on immigration
• Nunn unaware fundraiser host was felon, Black Panther leader
• Yeah, that was the problem

Buoyed by a string of favorable court rulings, Republicans are feeling plucky about their chances in key legal battles aimed at constraining President Obama’s expansive claims to executive powers. But if these efforts fail, Republicans may have succeeded in expanding, not shrinking, the imperial presidency.

Honey badger or Honey Boo Boo? - We saw for the first time Thursday the outline of the proposed lawsuit by the House of Representatives that would ask federal courts to bar Obama from contradicting his own signature health law. At issue specifically is Obama’s decision to waive explicitly stated penalties for big businesses that don’t comply with the law. Obama is all swagger on the campaign trail saying he is ready to “let it rip” and bragging about the additional steps he plans to take to bypass Congress. He is trying to sound like a honey badger, but sounds a little like Honey Boo Boo. Obama may say he can do what he wants, but he knows there’s trouble ahead. If the Supreme Court again rules that he cannot go it alone, the president would not only loose his last remaining weapon as a lame duck, but would also have to start cutting a deal with Congress on ObamaCare. Unable to revise the law by fiat, Obama would be forced to either see the devastating provisions he ordered delayed swing into place swiftly or start cutting a deal to prevent a calamity for the economy and workers.

The same goes for the big lawsuit against ObamaCare in the federal appellate courts. That suit says the administration’s move to pay subsidies in the 36 states that opted not to set up their own ObamaCare programs is allowed under the language of the law. A decision against the administration, which could come as early as today, might upend the entire system. If those who signed up on the grounds of federal assistance see that money disappear, the number of enrollments will crater. There again, the president would be forced to either agree to the first concessions to Republicans on the law or watch millions suffer. Not a pretty picture for a prideful president.

The court case that could kill ObamaCare - Ramesh Ponnuru: “The law's drafters just miscalculated: Their law ended up being much less popular than they expected it to be, and state-level resistance to cooperating much stronger. If the law can't work as written, that's because it was written in a way that made its success depend on state cooperation that hasn't been forthcoming.”

Risky business - But what if these challenges to presidential power fail? What if courts side with the administration’s argument that the president’s job is to help people as best he can and not worry so much about all the Framer’s filigree? It would be a disaster for the constitutionalist core of the conservative movement. One of the reasons House Speaker John Boehner agonized over filing suit was that if the ruling goes against Congress a new precedent will be set for executive power. If Congress loses the power to thwart the executive branch by obstruction, the last vestiges of the intended balance of power will be little more than ceremonial niceties. While Republicans may feel froggy about their chances right now, they know that they have started a very risky run through the judicial system.

[Gallup poll: Obama most popular among Muslims, Jews and non-believers; least popular among Christians and Mormons.]

In this week’s installment of Power Play, host Chris Stirewalt welcomes Republican Strategist Lauren Zelt and Democratic strategist Emily Tish Sussman to discuss how the Supreme Court decision ruling that employers can determine if certain types of birth control will be covered by the company’s health care plan will affect Senate races in 2014. Will the Democrats banning together for a bill that would end the court’s decision help them with women voters or is this simply political theater? Watch “Political Pros” to find out here. Then Sussman and Zelt make their picks for hot Senate races to watch this week. Watch here to find out which races are heating up.

On this, the 210th anniversary of the deadly duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, historian David O. Stewart, explains how one word led the two men to the dueling ground in Weehawken, N.J.: “In 1804, Hamilton’s tirades turned personal. In public remarks, he denounced Burr in his usual fashion, then added that he thought Burr ‘still more despicable.’ Burr demanded a retraction; in that era, ‘despicable’ connoted perverted personal habits. Twice before, Burr had objected to remarks by Hamilton; twice before, Hamilton had withdrawn them. This time, Hamilton would not retract. He agreed to meet Burr on the dueling ground. For Burr, honor required that he challenge a man who chronically maligned him and had called him despicable.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 41.1 percent//Disapprove – 54.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26 percent//Wrong Track – 63.5 percent 
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41.8 percent// Republicans 40.2 percent

LAT: “The issue that confounded [Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas,] more than any other when he sought the presidency in 2012 has now given him a center stage role opposite the man who won the race…for Perry this moment came at an opportune time…amid a national redemption tour that has brought him both praise and scorn as he considers a second presidential run in 2016….Perry entered the 2012 presidential contest the summer before the primaries, but while he zoomed almost instantly to the position of front-runner, he just as quickly came under fire in key early voting states from voters who saw his views on immigrants as suspect. In Iowa and elsewhere, Perry's opposition to a fence along the entire southern border and his signing of a bill allowing children of illegal immigrants to pay lower in-state tuition at Texas’ public colleges engendered antipathy among many voters, particularly in rural areas. … Other candidates whacked mercilessly at Perry after that—[Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.,] declared that opposition to illegal immigration ‘doesn’t mean you don’t have a heart. It means you have a heart and a brain.’ …This time around, Perry has accented the need to police the border and has hewed much more publicly to orthodox GOP positions on immigration—at least as espoused in Washington.”

Wanted: A GOP nominee who can handle Hillary - The Boston Globe headed to Manchester, N.H., to watch the potential 2016 GOP presidential nominees—from Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio— hopefuls start to make the rounds in the Granite State.: “And while primary voters would be open to candidates from across the party spectrum, he said the key characteristic New Hampshire Republicans would be looking for is someone who could win in November 2016. ‘Ultimately,’ [longtime GOP consultant David Carney] explained, ‘that will be the criteria that people will use: Who is the person who best represents my values who can crush [Hillary Clinton].’”

The pro-Republican opposition research group America Rising is highlighting a report detailing how the State Department under Hillary Clinton continued to give hundreds of millions of dollars to the Blackwater security firm, even after she co-sponsored legislation that would have barred the firm from government contracts. From America Rising: “ The Huffington Post reported that the State Department gave Blackwater over $1 billion since a 2007 incident that involved Blackwater’s top official in Iraq making death threats against a U.S. government investigator reviewing the company. Blackwater has a controversial history which led then-Senator Hillary Clinton to vow to crackdown on the company. In 2008 Clinton cosponsored legislation to ‘ban the use of Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq.’ Later in 2008 she also issued a press release that “blasted” the State Department, then under President Bush, for renewing its contract with Blackwater. However, according to The Huffington Post, ‘More than half a billion dollars was set aside for the firm [Blackwater] and its subsidiaries by the State Department under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.’”

[Business Insider, citing a “source close to Clinton,” reports the Democratic frontrunner pays for her staff out of her own pocket. “‘The Secretary’s personal staff is paid for by her personally,’ the source said. The source also noted Clinton draws no salary from the [Clinton] foundation.”’ No details were provided in the report about the size of Clinton’s personal staff, or who pays for the sizable expenses that accompany her or her staff’s extensive travel on the lucrative speaking circuit. Clinton recently said that the money she collects from colleges for speeches goes to her family’s foundation.]

Hillary memoir outgunned by ‘Blood Feud’ - The 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, much bruised politically on her gaffe-ridden book tour, had her “Hard Choices” memoir knocked off the top of the New York Times bestseller list by author and former NYT Magazine editor Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud.” Klein’s unauthorized and creatively sourced account of the power struggle between the Clintons and the Obamas bested Hillary’s book in the week ending July 5. “Hard Choices” has seen a steadily decline in sales since its June 10 release.  NYT has details.

Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: “Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes declined on Thursday to say how she would vote on President Barack Obama's request for $3.7 billion to address the immigration crisis on the nation's southern border. When asked four times if she would vote for the supplemental funding that Obama requested from Congress on Tuesday, Grimes focused her answers on criticizing her opponent, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. …Grimes first responded to a question about her position on the funding request by saying it was ‘horrible’ that McConnell voted against the immigration reform bill in June 2013. Fourteen Republican senators voted in favor of the bill. ‘His entire caucus’ had ‘to go around him to get a bill out of the Senate,’ Grimes said. Pressed on whether she would vote for the $3.7 billion supplemental, Grimes repeated her oft-used line that she is ‘going to assess everything when I'm in the United States Senate in the light of 'is it good for Kentucky?’’ When asked if the proposed funding was good for Kentucky, Grimes responded: ‘In terms of immigration reform, I think ... earned pathway to citizenship and a secure border is much needed, not just for Kentucky but for the entire nation.’ Grimes was asked again, specifically, about the $3.7 billion Obama requested. ‘Again, the bill that came out of the Senate, I strongly supported and I will continue to monitor the legislation that is before Congress and hope that Mitch McConnell won't stand in the way of reform, especially much-needed reform and earned pathway to citizenship helping our farmers here in Kentucky,’ Grimes said.”

Congress looks to make child deportation process faster - Washington Examiner: “Congressional lawmakers signaled Thursday that a $3.7 billion spending measure to cope with the immigration surge at the border will include a provision allowing speedier deportations of thousands of minors.”

Georgia Tipsheet: “A Tuesday evening fundraiser on Capitol Hill for Democratic Senate nominee Michelle Nunn could prove troublesome for her campaign. As reported by National Review, former Senator Sam Nunn, her father, was the special guest for the event’s proceedings, with suggested entry fee being $2,600 a head. However, co-hosting the event was Virtual Murrell, ‘an early leader of the Black Panther Party during its militant phase, and later a political consultant who, in the mid 1990s, spent time in jail for using a government perch to extort local businesses.’ Murrell’s 1994 indictment stemmed from charges of soliciting and receiving bribes in his capacity as aide to an Oakland city councilman. He did a year in prison after pleading guilty. Prior to that, he was a distribution manager for the Black Panthers…. In response to the story, Nunn’s campaign stated it was ‘unaware’ of his past and ‘disagrees with his comments.’”

Cash Call - Senate hopeful Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., widely outraised GOP runoff opponent David Perdue in the second quarter. Kingston brought in $1.6 million, while Perdue raised $474,000, but chipped in another $500,000 from his own fortune.

Conservative group Americans for Prosperity launched a new $800,000 attack ad Thursday bashing Iowa Senate candidate Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who called Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” In the 30 second spot, the narrator argues that families tighten their budget when struggling to make ends meet, so Congress should as well. “Bruce Braley supports massive spending bills that push our country into record debt,” said the narrator. “He even voted to protect trial lawyers costing us billions.” The ad concludes with the video of Braley bashing Grassley as a farmer. Braley faces Republican Joni Ernst in November.

Challenger Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is calling Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., to “follow his words with actions” and keep former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s money out of Colorado politics. The request comes after the former bashed on the Colorado’s gun law. “In Colorado, we got a law passed,” the mayor told Rolling Stone. “The NRA went after two or three state Senators in a part of Colorado where I don’t think there's roads. It’s as far rural as you can get. And, yes, they lost recall elections. I'm sorry for that. We tried to help ’em. But the bottom line is, the law is on the books, and being enforced. You can get depressed about the progress, but on the other hand, you're saving a lot of lives.” Soon after the article was released, both Gardner and Udall condemned the attack. Udall’s spokesperson said Bloomberg was “way off base” and that he should stay to what he knows best “traffic jams and tiny sodas.” However, Senate Majority PAC, a Bloomberg funded group, has already spent millions of dollars attacking Gardner. “While I am pleased that Senator Udall followed my lead and rejected Mayor Bloomberg's outrageous statements, he must follow his words with actions,” Gardner said in a statement. “If Senator Udall is sincere in his belief that the Mayor should stay out of Colorado, he must immediately appeal to those groups to end their negative Bloomberg-funded spending sprees.”

[Watch Fox: Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., sits down with Chris Stirewalt” for Monday’s installment of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt.” A link will appear in Monday’s Fox News First.

AP: “Republicans and liberal Democrats on Thursday blocked an election-year Senate bill that would help hunters and give a boost to Democrats facing tight re-election races in GOP-leaning states. The bipartisan measure would open more federal lands to hunters and other sportsmen, increasing funds for shooting ranges and blocking government curbs on bullets and fishing gear containing lead. It also would renew some conservation programs…North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, the chief Democratic sponsor, and several other Democratic co-sponsors in competitive re-election races were hoping the bill might enhance their appeal to pro-gun voters.”

[Not that she minds - David Drucker: “Democrats are largely happy with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s election-year strategy of limiting the number of amendment votes they face, even though it means some of their own ideas haven’t gotten a chance.”]

The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion Ledger: “A Meridian man has recanted — sort of — his story that he helped U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's campaign buy votes for $15 each in Lauderdale County. Stevie Fielder now says he was asked to buy votes — by someone he won't identify — but that he refused because ‘I would be in jail because that’s illegal.’ He says he has talked with the state attorney general's office. ‘I haven’t done anything illegal,’ said Fielder, who made national news after a lengthy interview with”

[AP: “Chris McDaniel says he’ll file his first challenge next week with the state Republican executive committee. His attorney says a lawsuit seeking a new election will come 10 days later.”]

McDaniel: ‘I’m not a sore loser’ - WLOX: “I could care less what Ann Coulter writes…I’m not a sore loser. What I am is a person who wants to see the process saved…If I can stand in this fight and I can clean up the elections process. If I can clean up the party process, it's worth it to me. And it should be worth it to others.”

Louisiana’s most famous Democratic political strategist, James Carville, offers hope for embattled incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, that Republican infighting may yet ruin the GOPs chances. From Carville’s op-ed in The Hill: “Republicans could be faced with a Chris McDaniel type of situation. Although the news has yet to penetrate the Beltway, where it is believed that United States Congressman Bill Cassidy (R) will surely face Landrieu in the Louisiana runoff, a former Air Force colonel, Rob Maness, has started to stir the pot. Maness, who has the coveted endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), is using his ‘Contract with Louisiana’ as the foundation for his platform. And although Maness is currently running in third, I know of no reason that Louisiana Republicans are any less prone to hard-right messaging than Mississippi Republicans were with McDaniel in his contentious race against the incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.”

Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton’s political action committee and independent expenditure group raised $2.3 million in the second quarter, bringing his total donations to $4 million for the cycle. The groups have nearly $3 million cash on hand including $400,000 for the PAC which has already given contributions to key House and Senate races and more than $2.5 million for the independent expenditure group which plans to release its first independent ad within the coming weeks.   

WaPo: “A major labor union is cutting ties with the United Negro College Fund because of the group’s connections to the billionaire industrialist Koch Brothers, who have put their wealth behind supporting conservative causes and candidates for office. Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, penned a letter this week to UNCF President and CEO Michael Lomax informing him that he is ending the collaboration between the two groups on a joint scholarship program….The UNCF announced the $25 million donation from Koch Industries Inc. and the Charles Koch Foundation last month. The money will go toward a scholarship program, loan assistance and providing general support to historically black colleges and universities.”

Republicans have their sights set on six seats to win back control of the Senate from Democrats. So which seats are most likely to flip from blue to red? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota and North Carolina

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

Daily Caller: “A Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives is taking aim at Republicans in a new television ad of the type of violent rhetoric that Democrats have attacked Republicans for in the past. ‘They call me a long shot. They say I can’t win in this district. But what happens to an elephant who stands around doing nothing for too long,’ says Estakio Beltran in the Western-themed TV spot. In it, Beltran pulls out a shotgun, aims it and fires at an elephant piñata. The message was clear, as the elephant is commonly known as a symbol of the GOP. Beltran is seeking to fill a seat left open by Republican Doc Hastings, who is set to retire.”

Fox News: “President Obama and are in the running for an Emmy this awards season. Obama’s satirical interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis on the web series “Between Two Ferns” was nominated Thursday for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment category.

You decide to sail around the globe with your toddler and your 1-year-old but a thousand miles into the trip, your baby gets sick. What happens next? The California Air National Guard parachute-divers and U.S. Navy sailors brave rough seas to come to the rescue. Your sailboat must be sunk for safety reasons and a Navy warship brings you safely to shore. So what do you take away from this adventure turned nightmare? Sue your phone company. That’s the upshot for Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, who say their satellite phone was deactivated by the service provider, forcing the family to call out the fleet because of their daughter’s “salmonella-like symptoms.” From KGTV: “[Eric Kaufman said] that every safety measure was well thought-out. Everything but the satellite cell phone…The couple will file a lawsuit against the satellite phone provider later this week. Attorney Dan Gilleon says they should not only compensate the Kaufmans for their loss, but should also re-pay the federal government for the expensive military rescue at sea.” The couple says they intend to travel the word with their kids again as soon as they get a new sailboat.

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…“What’s really helped [Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas,] the most are the eyeglasses – black rimmed eyeglasses. He looks like a male librarian, which I think is great… I do think that what we don’t quite remember is that towards the end of the primaries after the implosion in that debate where he couldn’t remember the three points he did fairly well when spotlight came off him and was no longer the front runner.” Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.