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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K.C. restaurant workers sue over explosion
Fire rages after a gas explosion February 19 in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
March 25th, 2013
09:18 PM ET

K.C. restaurant workers sue over explosion

Six employees of JJ's restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, have filed a lawsuit against five companies and one person in connection with the February 19 natural gas explosion that killed one woman.

The workers filed suit Monday in circuit court in Jackson County, naming Missouri Gas Energy, excavating contractor Heartland Midwest, Time Warner Cable (an independent company no longer owned by CNN parent Time Warner), two other businesses and one individual as defendants.

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MLB sues Florida clinic, accuses it of supplying banned drugs to players
Slugger Manny Ramirez is among players who supposedly received banned substances from Biogenesis.
March 22nd, 2013
05:33 PM ET

MLB sues Florida clinic, accuses it of supplying banned drugs to players

Major League Baseball filed a lawsuit Friday seeking damages against the South Florida clinic Biogenesis of America and its operator, Anthony Bosch, for allegedly providing performance-enhancing drugs to players, the pro sports league said.

According to reports and the MLB suit, filed in state court in Florida's Miami-Dade County, the clinic reportedly supplied banned performance-enhancing substances to a number of current and former pro baseball players such as ex-Boston Red Sox Manny Ramirez.

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Man freed after serving 2 decades in N.Y. killing
Prosecutors, saying that David Ranta is innocent, recommended he go free after more than 20 years behind bars.
March 21st, 2013
03:27 PM ET

Man freed after serving 2 decades in N.Y. killing

A New York man has been freed after serving more than two decades in prison for the killing of a rabbi during a botched diamond heist, with a judge calling his conviction a miscarriage of justice.

Brooklyn prosecutors recommended that David Ranta's conviction be tossed out after a onetime witness said he had been coached into identifying the suspect in a police lineup. Ranta was released after a hearing Thursday afternoon.

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Judge rejects options for guilty pleas by Fort Hood defendant
Army Maj. Nidal Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 at Fort Hood in 2009.
March 20th, 2013
08:27 PM ET

Judge rejects options for guilty pleas by Fort Hood defendant

The judge in the court-martial of an Army psychiatrist charged in a deadly shooting spree on a Texas military base rejected three options presented by his lawyers under which he would plead guilty and ordered the trial to begin in May.

Maj. Nidal Hasan is charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood in November 2009, called the worst incident of its kind on a military base.

 

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Ohio school shooter gets life in prison
T.J. Lane, wearing the word "killer" on his T-shirt in court Tuesday, had pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated murder.
March 19th, 2013
11:50 AM ET

Ohio school shooter gets life in prison

Ohio school shooter T.J. Lane should spend the rest of his life in prison in the deaths of three students last year, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Wearing a white T-shirt with the word "killer" written on it, Lane declined to allow his attorneys to present evidence on his behalf at the sentencing hearing before Geauga County Common Pleas Judge David L. Fuhry.

Lane pleaded guilty last month to three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and weapons-related charges in the February 27, 2012, shooting at Chardon High School in northeastern Ohio.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Gun violence • Justice • Ohio
March 18th, 2013
09:21 AM ET

Monday's live events

The murder trial of Jodi Arias has captivated many.  Watch CNN.com Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial.

Today's programming highlights...

11:00 am ET - 'March Madness' briefing - It's that time of the year where some workers slack off, take sick days and schedule vasectomies.  It's the NCAA Men's Division I college basketball tournament, and this year's "Final Four" takes place in Atlanta.  Officials from the city and Turner Broadcasting discuss festivities surrounding the games.

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Filed under: Basketball • College basketball • Courts • Crime • Justice • On CNN.com today • Sports
March 17th, 2013
10:27 AM ET

Two teens found guilty in Ohio rape case

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (CNN) - A judge found two Steubenville star high school football players guilty Sunday of raping an allegedly drunk 16-year-old girl.

Judge Thomas Lipps announced his decision after reviewing evidence presented over four days of testimony in the case against 17-year-old Trent Mays and 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond, who were tried as juveniles.

Mays and Richmond were tried before Lipps, a visiting judge, without a jury. The trial moved quickly - and through the weekend - to accommodate the judge's schedule.

They face the possibility of being jailed until they are 21.

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Ariz. AG to appeal overturned murder conviction
A federal judge on Thursday overturned Debra Milke's murder conviction and death sentence
March 15th, 2013
03:46 PM ET

Ariz. AG to appeal overturned murder conviction

Arizona will appeal a judge's decision to overturn the murder conviction and death sentence of Debra Milke, the state's attorney general announced Friday.

A jury convicted Milke of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, child abuse and kidnapping on October 12, 1990, less than a year after her 4-year-old son was found dead. She was sentenced to death a few months later.

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March 12th, 2013
02:23 PM ET

Jury convicts New York cop in cannibal plot

New York police officer Gilberto Valle conspired to kidnap women, who prosecutors argued he planned to rape, torture, cook and eat, a federal jury decided Tuesday.

Valle's lawyers argued the former police officer's e-mails and online postings were just "fantasy role-play" and"dark improv theater," but prosecutors said he was "deadly serious."

Valle faces life in prison for the kidnap conspiracy conviction. He was also found guilty of illegally accessing a federal law enforcement database.

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Holmes' lawyers blast Colorado insanity laws
Lawyers for James Holmes say parts of the state's insanity defense laws are unconstitutional.
March 1st, 2013
10:02 PM ET

Holmes' lawyers blast Colorado insanity laws

Lawyers for James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting suspect, took aim against the state's insanity defense laws in court documents made public Friday.

"Colorado's statutory scheme regarding the affirmative defense of insanity, and the introduction of any 'mental condition' evidence at trial or sentencing, is unconstitutional in many individual respects," they wrote in a 60-page motion and brief filed Thursday.

The lawyers said parts of the state's insanity defense laws are unconstitutional.

Among other issues, they cited the requirement that a defendant "cooperate" with examining psychiatrists as a violation of the defendant's privilege against compelled self-incrimination.

Prosecutors have not said whether they will pursue the death penalty against Holmes, who is charged with 166 counts, including murder, attempted murder and other offenses in the July 20 shooting rampage in a movie theater that left 12 people dead and scores injured.

Holmes is awaiting formal arraignment on the charges.

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Suit filed over corpse in rooftop cistern
February 28th, 2013
06:16 PM ET

Suit filed over corpse in rooftop cistern

Two former guests have filed suit against the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, where the body of a 21-year-old woman was found in mid-February in a rooftop water tank.

Steve and Gloria Cott filed suit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Elisa Lam's decomposing body floated inside a water tank for as long as 19 days while guests used water from it to brushed their teeth, bathe and drink.

The hotel did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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Filed under: California • Courts • Justice • Los Angeles • Uncategorized
Justices block suit over foreign surveillance
February 26th, 2013
10:33 AM ET

Justices block suit over foreign surveillance

The U.S. Supreme Court has just blocked a lawsuit over the federal government's sweeping electronic monitoring of foreigners suspected of terrorism or spying.

The 5-4 conservative majority on Tuesday morning concluded that the plaintiffs a group of attorneys, journalists and others lacked "standing" or jurisdiction to proceed, without a specific showing they have been monitored. The National Security Agency has in turn refused to disclose monitoring specifics, which detractors call "Catch-22" logic.

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Jackson kids' death lawsuit set for trial
Prince Jackson, Blanket Jackson and Paris Jackson speak on stage during the "Michael Forever Tribute Concert" in 2011.
February 25th, 2013
03:42 PM ET

Jackson kids' death lawsuit set for trial

The lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson's three children and mother that accuses a concert promoter of contributing to the pop icon's death can go to trial, a Los Angeles judge tentatively ruled Monday.

The trial for the wrongful death lawsuit against AEG Live, filed by Jackson matriarch Katherine Jackson and his children, Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson, is set for April.  A final order on Monday's decision has not been issued yet.

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Suspect in Ridgeway killing to be tried
Austin Reed Sigg, a student at Arapahoe Community College, is charged in girl's death.
February 22nd, 2013
07:08 PM ET

Suspect in Ridgeway killing to be tried

Austin Sigg must face trial on 18 of 20 counts relating to the killing of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway and an attack on a jogger last year, a spokesman for Colorado’s courts said Friday in a Tweet.

Rob McCallum made the announcement after Sigg appeared before Jefferson County Judge Stephen Munsinger in a preliminary hearing. The arraignment is set for March 12; Sigg remains on no-bond hold.


Filed under: Colorado • Courts • Justice
Justice Department joins Armstrong suit
February 22nd, 2013
01:21 PM ET

Justice Department joins Armstrong suit

The U.S. Department of Justice has joined a whistle-blower lawsuit against cyclist Lance Armstrong that was originally filed by a former teammate, an attorney for Armstrong said Friday.

Former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after failing a drug test, filed a suit in 2010 against their former team, which was sponsored the U.S. Postal Service.

The lawsuit accused the team's former management of defrauding the government of millions of dollars because the team management knew about team members' drug use and didn't do anything.

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February 21st, 2013
08:06 PM ET

Woman lied about role in Rwanda genocide

A New Hampshire jury on Thursday convicted a Rwandan woman of lying about her role in a 1994 genocide in her home country to acquire U.S. citizenship.

Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, had her citizenship revoked and will face sentencing in June for two counts of lying on U.S. government applications, authorities said.

She faces up to 10 years behind bars, a $250,000 fine on each count and possible deportation, according to the Justice Department.

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Peterson gets 38 years for ex-wife's death
February 21st, 2013
04:52 PM ET

Peterson gets 38 years for ex-wife's death

Former Chicago-area police sergeant Drew Peterson was sentenced Thursday to 38 years in prison with credit for nearly four years in jail for the 2004 murder of his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio, a prosecution spokesman in Illinois said.

Peterson plans to appeal the sentence, one of this lawyers said.

Peterson was convicted of murder last September. Savio Peterson's third wife was found dead in her dry, clean bathtub on March 1, 2004

The headline-grabbing case did not arise until after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in October 2007. It was during the search for Stacy Peterson who has not been found that investigators said they would look again into Savio's death, which was initially ruled an accidental drowning.

In February 2008, authorities altered their judgment and ruled Savio's death a homicide. Peterson was later arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

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Georgia convict's stay of execution upheld
February 21st, 2013
12:47 PM ET

Georgia convict's stay of execution upheld

Two days after a last-hour reprieve, it appears condemned Georgia murderer Warren Lee Hill will be spared execution for at least a few more weeks.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 30-day stay of execution for Hill (pictured), whose attorneys say he's mentally disabled.

Georgia had asked the justices to lift the stay, which was granted minutes before Hill had been scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday night. A federal appeals court in Atlanta halted the execution to give lawyers a month for written arguments on whether Hill should be spared under the federal ban on executions of the mentally disabled.

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Moments from aboard the ship
February 20th, 2013
03:34 PM ET

Class-action suit filed against Carnival

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Carnival Corp. surrounding the events that crippled the cruise ship Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico.

Filing on behalf of other tourists, passengers Matt Crusan and Melissa Crusan alleged in their lawsuit that "Carnival knew or should have known that the vessel Triumph was likely to experience mechanical and/or engine issues because of prior similar issues," the court filing said.

The suit, filed Monday, follows a lawsuit that an individual passenger filed against the company last week.

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