March 26th, 2013
10:47 PM ET

Body, malnourished boy found in apartment

A 4-year-old boy was found alive but malnourished in a Union, New Jersey, apartment where police also discovered the decomposing body of a woman.

Authorities revealed few details about the case, including whether the woman was the child's mother.

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Filed under: New Jersey
Authorities: Bomb materials in Colo. suspect's car
The gun Evan Ebel used in a shootout with Texas police has been linked to a prison official's killing in Colorado.
March 26th, 2013
05:44 PM ET

Authorities: Bomb materials in Colo. suspect's car

Texas authorities said Tuesday that investigators found bomb-making materials in the car of Evan Ebel, the man suspected of killing Tom Clements, the Colorado prison system chief.

A report from the Texas Department of Public Safety said officers found the bomb-making materials in a duffel bag in the trunk as well as instructions on how to make an explosive device.

Texas Rangers also discovered tan pants with apparent blood on them in a cooler.

Clements was shot to death March 19 at his home outside Colorado Springs. Ebel was mortally wounded two days later in northern Texas in a gunbattle with authorities that also left a sheriff's deputy wounded.

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Filed under: Colorado • Crime • Texas • U.S.
March 26th, 2013
05:02 PM ET

North Dakota enacts strict abortion limit

What is being called the nation's toughest anti-abortion measure was signed into law on Tuesday by North Dakota's governor. The law bans most abortions when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected, which is at about six weeks.

The law sets the stage for an almost guaranteed legal showdown, with proponents saying the law is intended to test the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal.

"Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement.

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Woman to lead Secret Service
Julia Pierson has served as the Secret Service director's chief of staff since 2008.
March 26th, 2013
04:38 PM ET

Woman to lead Secret Service

President Obama will appoint Julia Pierson as the first female director of the Secret Service, the White House announced Tuesday.

Pierson has been the chief of staff to the director since August 2008. She began her career as a special agent in 1983 in the Miami field office. In 2000 she was promoted to special agent in charge of protective operations.

She will replace Mark Sullivan, who retired in February.

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Filed under: Politics • U.S.
March 26th, 2013
01:51 PM ET

Baby shooting: Suspect's mom, aunt arrested

The mother and the aunt of one of the two teenage boys accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in Brunswick, Georgia, have been arrested, according to documents in the case.

Seventeen-year-old murder suspect De'Marquise Elkins' mother, Karimah Aisha Elkins, 36, and his aunt, Katrina Latrelle Elkins, 33, are accused of "false statements or writings," among other charges, the complaint said.

Also Tuesday, police investigating the case found a weapon and are trying to determine if it is connected to the shooting, a Brunswick police spokesman said.

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia • Gun violence
Supreme Court appears deeply divided over same-sex marriage
March 26th, 2013
12:40 PM ET

Supreme Court appears deeply divided over same-sex marriage

  • The Supreme Court is hearing two cases this week in the appeals to state and federal laws restricting same-sex marriage.
  • The court today first tackles an appeal of California's ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8.
  • Tomorrow, the justices will hear oral arguments over the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
  • Live updates below. Also, read the full story.

[Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET] We're signing off on this end for now - check out our main story for more detail and analysis as it comes today. We answer your questions here, and want to hear from you here.

Don't forget to join us again here tomorrow, when the Supreme Court hears the second round of debate on same-sex marriage: the Defense of Marriage Act.

[Updated at 12:31 p.m. ET] Director Rob Reiner, who watched today’s oral arguments, is a vocal critic against Proposition 8. Here's what he had to say after court adjourned:

“Today is a historic day for all those who believe in freedom and equality. After more than four years of working our case through victories at the federal District and Circuit courts, we finally had an opportunity today to present our arguments in support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans before the highest court in the land. This case has always been about the love shared by two individuals and about the central promise from our nation’s founding that all men are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights, including the pursuit of happiness.

[Updated at 12:11 p.m. ET] Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, tells reporters outside the court that he believes both sides of the argument have agreed that it is impossible to know with certainly how society would change by redefining "a fundamental institution such as marriage.

[Updated at 12:04 p.m. ET] “Today we feel we clearly presented the winning case for marriage,” says Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, who is speaking with reporters now.

[Updated at 12:01 p.m. ET] Charles Cooper, lead counsel defending Proposition 8, told reporters that he couldn't sum up his argument in a couple of sentences. "We believe Proposition 8 is constitutional," he said, making a brief statement.

[Updated at 11:48 a.m. ET] Kris Perry, a plaintiff in the Prop 8 case, just spoke, saying: "In this country as children, we learn that there's a founding principle, that all men and women are created equal. … Unfortunately with the passage of Proposition 8, we learned that there are group of people in California who are not being treated equally."

"We look forward to a day when prop 8 is officially eliminated and equality is restored to the state of California."

[Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET] Republican Ted Olson and Democrat David Boies, who joined forces to argue against Prop 8, are speaking outside the courthouse now. What's important from today, Olson said, is "the American people were listening to the argument. The other side, nobody really offered a defense."

"We're very gratified they listened, they heard, they asked hard questions, (but) there is no denying where the right is, and we hope the court (rules that way) in June."

[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET] According to Toobin, there were a lot of questions along these lines from Justices Scalia and Alito: We don’t know the effects of same sex parenting on children, so why don’t we wait and let the states go experiment? Why do we, the Supreme Court, have to get involved in this process?

Toobin said Roberts also seemed sympathetic to these questions.

[Updated at 11:39 a.m. ET] The attorney general and the governor of California have refused to defend Prop 8. So the question, Toobin says, is "Who can defend the law? Who has the standing?" The answer to that question will be key to resolving the case.

Conservative Justices Scalia, Alito and Roberts were "very hostile of idea of the court imposing same sex marriage," according to Toobin. The four Democratic justices seemed favorably disposed.

Justice Kennedy seemed like he was in the middle, he said things that would "give comfort for both sides," Toobin says. Kennedy suggested the issue was brought prematurely before the court.

[Updated at 11:37 a.m. ET] The justices seemed very focused on how Prop 8 affects children, with Justice Kagan at some point suggesting that California have a law allowing same-sex marriage for people past child-bearing age, Toobin said.

Kagan said, according to Toobin: “I assure you if two 55 year old people, there aren’t a lot of children (coming from that marriage).”

[Updated at 11:34 a.m. ET] "This was a deeply divided Supreme Court, a court that seemed groping for answers," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said after watching the arguments. "Now I think its even harder to predict the result of this case after hearing this argument."

[Updated at 11:31 a.m. ET] Oral arguments have wrapped up, according to CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears. They went just a bit over schedule, lasting about one hour and 20 minutes.


[Updated at 11:23 a.m. ET] While we wait on word from the courthouse, consider this: A new CNN/ORC International Poll indicates that 53% of Americans support same-sex marriage. In the same survey, 57% of respondents said they had a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian.

Here's a look at the issue, by the numbers.

[Updated at 11:06 a.m. ET] The same-sex marriage debate is a huge issue, and the lawyers inside were penciled in for an hour to make their cases. Doesn't sound like much time, but to be fair, the oral arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") last March lasted roughly two hours.

Tomorrow's DOMA arguments have been given one hour and 50 minutes. We'll see if they stay on schedule today.

[Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET] If all is going to plan, Jean Podrasky, a lesbian whose first cousin happens to be Chief Justice John Roberts, is inside the court hearing the arguments.

"I know that my cousin is a good man," she wrote in an op-ed this week. "I feel confident that John is wise enough to see that society is becoming more accepting of the humanity of same-sex couples and the simple truth that we deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and equality under the law."

You might see a lot of red avatars with a “=” equal sign in your Twitter feed today. Supporters of marriage rights for same-sex couples are wearing red today to show their support – both on their persons and their social media accounts. That includes Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

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March 26th, 2013
07:44 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

Watch CNN.com Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial of Jodi Arias, who's accused of killing her ex-boyfriend in 2008.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Marriage equality rally outside Supreme Court - The high court considers California's ban on same-sex marriage this morning.  Today's hearing will not be televised. but he will hear from protesters outside the court.  Following the hearing, we expect to hear from lawyers and plaintiffs involved in the case.

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • On CNN.com today • Politics • Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
March 26th, 2013
05:44 AM ET

Bomb kills two government officials in Iraq

A roadside bomb exploded Tuesday in northern Iraq, killing the head of the local town council and a member of the provincial council, police said.

Qader Ali, head of the Tuz Khurmatu town council, and Rasheed Khorshid, a member of Salaheddin provincial council, were killed, police in Kirkuk and Baghdad said.

Tuz Khurmatu, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Baghdad, is one of the disputed areas in Iraq. Both the central government and the country's semiautonomous Kurdistan region claim the town.

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March 26th, 2013
05:13 AM ET

Gun store nixes Mark Kelly's purchase

An Arizona gun store says it has canceled a recent purchase of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle by Mark Kelly thwarting the retired astronaut's attempt to demonstrate how easy it is to buy high-powered weapons.

Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords and an outspoken advocate for new gun control measures, had in recent interviews said he was buying the rifle to showcase what he said are unobtrusive background checks.

Doug MacKinlay, owner of Diamondback Police Supply, said it was Kelly's statements that caused him to stop the sale.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
March 26th, 2013
03:26 AM ET

North Korea: Readying military for combat

North Korea on Tuesday served up its latest round of threats against the United States, saying it plans to place military units on combat ready status to prepare for possible strikes on U.S. bases.

The North Korean Supreme Command "will put our military on number one combat ready status with strategic rocket units and long-range artillery unit to prepare for possible strikes against the U.S. mainland, Hawaii and Guam and other American and South Korean military units in the Pacific," the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

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Filed under: North Korea • U.S. • World
March 26th, 2013
01:23 AM ET

Amanda Knox to face new murder trial

[Posted at 9:53 a.m. ET] Italian Supreme Court judges ruled Tuesday that U.S. citizen Amanda Knox should stand trial again for the death of her former roommate in Italy.

Knox, who returned to the United States in 2011 and has been living in Seattle, was not in court for Tuesday's ruling. She vowed Tuesday to fight with her head "held high" to prove her innocence.

Knox said it had been "painful" to hear the news that the court had ordered a retrial, in a statement issued through the family's PR spokesman, David Marriott.

[Posted at 1:23 a.m. ET] Italian Supreme Court judges are expected to announce Tuesday whether American Amanda Knox should stand trial again for the death of her former roommate.

The judges concluded a hearing over the question Monday and were expected to announce their decision by midday Tuesday.

Knox spent four years in prison before an appellate court overturned her murder conviction in the 2007 death of Meredith Kercher. She returned to the United States in 2011. Prosecutors say despite the appellate decision, they still believe Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are responsible for the death.

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Filed under: Crime • Italy • Justice
March 26th, 2013
01:16 AM ET

Same-sex marriage: A potential blockbuster

The meaning of marriage.

It's an issue that does not get more basic, yet the complexity surrounding the legal, social, and political implications of expanding that right to gays and lesbians is now squarely before the Supreme Court.

The justices launch an epic public dialogue on Tuesday when they hear oral arguments in the first of two appeals to state and federal laws restricting same-sex marriage. The second round will be on Wednesday.

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Filed under: Justice • Politics • U.S.
March 26th, 2013
01:13 AM ET

5 officers dead in Afghanistan

Gunmen and suicide bombers attacked police in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday morning, leaving five officers dead, police said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack that occurred in the city of Jalalabad.

Six or seven civilians were also injured in the violence and five of the attackers died, according to Mohammad Sharif Amin, local police spokesman.

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Filed under: World
March 26th, 2013
12:51 AM ET

How did fake pilot get into cockpit?

An angry passenger used his mother's old Air France employee documents to con his way into the cockpit of a US Airways flight last week, according to the criminal complaint filed against him Monday in U.S District Court in Philadelphia.

Philippe Jeannard, 61, had become disruptive Wednesday after being told that the airline could not accommodate his request to move up to business class during a stopover in Philadelphia. FBI Special Agent Brian L. Jones described Jeannard in an affidavit as difficult and verbally abusive to a flight attendant and gate supervisor.

Jeannard was wearing a white button-down shirt with an Air France logo over the pocket and a black jacket with four gold stripes on the epaulets, similar to one worn by pilots, the complaint said. He identified himself to the gate supervisor as an Air France pilot.

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Filed under: Crime • World
March 26th, 2013
12:23 AM ET

Toll rises from communal unrest in Myanmar

The death toll from sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in central Myanmar has risen to 40, state media reported Tuesday.

Authorities clearing up the wreckage from the riots last week in the city of Meiktila have found eight bodies among the debris, increasing the number of dead from 32, the New Light of Myanmar, a state-run newspaper, reported in its Tuesday edition.

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Filed under: Islam • Myanmar • Religion • World