Same-sex couples start new lives with new law
August 1st, 2013
04:11 AM ET

Same-sex couples start new lives with new law

They've been a couple for two years and are eager to raise two children together. But it wasn't until Thursday that Holli Bartelt and Amy Petrich were allowed to legally wed.

They wasted no time.

They made plans to tie the knot one minute after a law permitting gay marriage went into effect in their home state of Minnesota.

At 12 a.m. Thursday, Minnesota and Rhode Island officially became the latest among 13 states - and the District of Columbia - to allow same-sex marriage. Both states passed applicable laws in May.

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Filed under: Civil Rights • Gay and lesbian • Minnesota • Rhode Island • Supreme Court • U.S. • Uncategorized • World Update
Supreme Court gives two big victories for gay rights
June 26th, 2013
12:12 PM ET

Supreme Court gives two big victories for gay rights

  • The Supreme Court issues two key rulings affecting same-sex marriage in the U.S.  
  • Part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down
  • The justices also cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California after rejecting an appeal on the state's Proposition 8
  • Refresh this page for the latest news, analysis and reaction

[Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET] It's the end of a busy morning of momentous rulings from the Supreme Court. We're still working on getting analysis on and reaction to the two landmark decisions that will impact marriage between same-sex couples in the United States and we'll bring that to you on CNN.com, CNN's mobile apps and CNN TV.

We'll sign off this live blog now, thanks for reading. Here are links to more of the coverage we already have:

Our main story: Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage hailed as historic victory

Details on the DOMA case: Supreme Court strikes down federal provision on same-sex marriage benefits

Details on the Proposition 8 case: Supreme Court dismisses California's Proposition 8 appeal

From CNN Money: The financial impact of the same-sex marriage ruling

Gay celebrities who are married or engaged

Same-sex marriage by the numbers

[Updated at 11:49 a.m. ET] Religion and marriage are intricately tied together for many and our Belief blog co-editor Daniel Burke has got a range of reaction from believers and non-believers.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is one of those looking at the decisions through a religion lens:

[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET] Both the decisions affecting same-sex marriage were 5-4 splits. And the dissenting justices put out some strong opinions of their own.

Justice Scalia on the DOMA case:

Few public controversies touch an institution so central to the lives of so many, and few inspire such attendant passion by good people on both sides. Few public controversies will ever demonstrate so vividly the beauty of what our Framers gave us, a gift the Court pawns today to buy its stolen moment in the spotlight: a system of government that permits us to rule ourselves.

Some will rejoice in today's decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters to much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.

Justice Kennedy on the Proposition 8 case:

What the Court fails to grasp or accept is the basic premise of the initiative process. And it is this. The essence of democracy is that the right to make law rests in the people and flows to the government, not the other way around. Freedom resides first in the people without need of a grant from government. The California initiative process embodies these principles and has done so for over a century... In California and the 26 other States that permit initiatives and popular referendums, the people have exercised their own inherent sovereign right to govern themselves. The Court today frustrates that choice.

[Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET] Kris Perry, one of the key figures in the Proposition 8 case, said it was a victory not just for couples wanting to wed but also children. "No matter where you live, no matter who your parents are, no matter what kind of family you're in, you are equal, you are as good as your friends' parents and your friends."

She added: "We can go back to California and say to our own children - all four of our boys - your family is just as good as everybody else's family."

[Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET] There are a lot of rainbow flags flying today. Including on Google if you search "gay."

[Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET] Family Research Council president Tony Perkins released a statement saying his group was "disappointed" in the DOMA ruling and "disturbed" by the detail of the Proposition 8 decision but that it also took some heart from the Supreme Court's actions.

“Their refusal to redefine marriage for all states is a major setback for those seeking to redefine natural marriage," he said. "Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex ‘marriage.’ As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify."

He concluded: “What is inevitable is that the male and female relationship will continue to be uniquely important to the future of society. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad. We will continue to work to restore and promote a healthy marriage culture, which will maximize the chances of a child being raised by a married mother and father.”

[Updated at 11:08 a.m. ET] The Human Rights Campaign, which has pushed for LGBT equality, is declaring two "monumental victories." Here's the top of their statement:

In recent years, California’s Proposition 8 and the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act became symbols of anti-LGBT discrimination around the country and around the world. Today, both crumbled.
In a watershed moment in the fight for equality, the United States Supreme Court today ruled to return marriage equality to California and to strike down DOMA. The court ruled in the Prop 8 case on procedural grounds, not reaching a decision on the merits of Prop 8 or the broader question of whether the Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to marry the person you love.
Marriages in California are expected to begin again soon. While a joyous milestone, these victories nonetheless throw into sharp relief the uneven progress for LGBT people around the country—a landscape where states like California are rapidly advancing toward equality, but progress in many other places remains stagnant.

[Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET] A little more detail on exactly what the Proposition 8 decision by the Supreme Court means: By dismissing the case, the decision will allow for the lower court decision in California that allows for same-sex marriage to be reinstated. The appeals court stay on the decision will be lifted.

[Updated at 10:59 a.m. ET] Here's what Hollywood is saying - some reactions from celebrities, many of whom have campaigned for gay rights.

And this is George Takei on Facebook:

Today marks a watershed moment in history and a tremendous victory for the principle of equality. The 5-4 decision by our Supreme Court striking down DOMA affirms the universality of love–the desire of all people not only to find, but to value and affirm, a lifelong commitment to another person.

I have lived nearly four score years, and have borne witness to both the heartbreak and promise of true justice and equality in America. Today my heart soars, and my faith in the promise of our great nation is renewed.

Now, if there's anything we gays know how to do well, it is to celebrate! Let the joy of this day ring out with PRIDE.

[Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET] The key couples in the California case just held their arms aloft in celebration on the steps of the Supreme Court building. "This is a great day for America," said one of their lawyers, David Boies.

[Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET] So what's your reaction to the rulings today?

[Updated at 10:38 a.m. ET] It sounds like we'll be looking into these rulings for a while – Jeffrey Toobin just said the Proposition 8 case was "a puzzling decision" and a "puzzling" line-up of justices who backed the decision.

The opinion about Proposition 8 was written by Chief Justice Roberts who was joined by Justice Scalia, a conservative, and three liberals – Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Kagan.

[Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET] Same-sex marriage can resume in California - that's the result of the Supreme Court ruling just in that dismisses an appeal regarding California's Proposition 8.

From our colleague Bill Mears:

The Supreme Court has dismissed a closely-watched appeal over same-sex marriage on jurisdictional grounds, ruling Wednesday private parties do not have "standing" to defend California's voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbians couples from state-sanctioned wedlock. The ruling permits same-sex couples in California to legally marry. The 5-4 decision avoids for now a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-protected "equal protection" right that would apply to all states. The case is Hollingsworth v. Perry (12-144).

[Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET] New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN the ruling was a "great win." "“A great win not just for the gay community, it’s a great win for the American tradition of equal justice under the law,” he said.

[Updated at 10:29 a.m. ET] House Speaker John Boehner was just asked about the DOMA case, but he declined comment until he's read the ruling.

[Updated at 10:26 a.m. ET] The ruling on Proposition 8 - California's ban on same-sex marriage - is in.

[Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET] And yes, the president was watching. His Twitter account is calling the DOMA ruling "a historic step forward," though it's not signed with the "bo" that shows he wrote it.

[Updated at 10:22 a.m. ET] President Obama was going to be monitoring the rulings on Air Force One as he heads to Senegal, CNN's Jessica Yellin reports.

[Updated at 10:17 a.m. ET] Supporters of same-sex marriage waiting outside the Supreme Court cheered the DOMA decision. Reaction is also coming in from Twitter.

DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that "finally" all married couples would get benefits.

[Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET] Of course we can't draw any conclusions from the DOMA ruling about which way the justices will decide on California's Proposition 8. 

[Updated at 10:12 a.m. ET] The justices were split 5-4. The majority ruling was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Dissents were written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito.

[Updated at 10:09 a.m. ET] Legal expert Jeffrey Toobin puts the ruling in context: "DOMA is gone."

[Updated at 10:08 a.m. ET] From our team in Washington:

The Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.

[Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET] This is the case where Edie Windsor said she had to pay more in inheritance tax than warranted because her spouse was a woman not a man.

[Updated at 10:02 a.m. ET] We're reading the decision to see how the justices ruled regarding the rights of legally married same-sex couples to receive federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses.

[Updated at 10:01 a.m. ET] There is a ruling in the DOMA case.

[Updated at 10:00 a.m. ET] So it's 10 a.m. in the nation's capital and the Supreme Court should be sitting. No cameras inside the court of course, so we can only assume they are good timekeepers.

[Updated at 9:54 a.m. ET] Two days ago Lady Gaga called on the Supreme Court to "make history & stand for MARRIAGE EQUALITY." That's now been retweeted nearly 14,000 times. But will it have had any impact on the nine justices?

[Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET] Here are some of the people who weren't specifically part of the cases argued before the Supreme Court but who will almost certainly be affected by the rulings. CNN's Moni Basu profiled gay couples who are at the center of two big political debates – same-sex marriage and immigration.

[Updated at 9:44 a.m. ET] While we're waiting for the opinions to be delivered, here's Donna Brazile's take on yesterday's landmark ruling on the Voting Rights Act. The Democratic strategist says it's time for President Obama and Congress to pass a new Voting Rights Act.

[Updated at 9: 40 a.m. ET] A quick reminder that you can watch our reporting live on CNN TV as well as refreshing this page and staying with CNN on CNN.com and our mobile apps.

[Updated at 9:19 a.m. ET] Large crowds are gathering outside the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. and on social media. Right now we can see rainbow gay pride banners and blue flags with a yellow "=" sign that is a standard of those fighting for more rights for same-sex couples. Not in view are groups who support traditional marriage between a man and a woman, but that's not to say they're not there. Both sides were strongly represented when the Supreme Court heard the arguments back in March.

On Twitter, #DOMA will probably start trending soon. There's certainly a lot of people tweeting about the Supreme Court today.

The Tie the Knot organization that wants marriage equality tweeted "The big day is here."

It's no surprise that GLAAD wants marriage equality.

Or that the Family Research Council is backing traditional unions.

And this, from CNN legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin:

[Posted at 9:05 a.m. ET] It's set to be the last public day of the Supreme Court session, and we're waiting for opinions in three cases - two of which address same-sex marriage.

It's widely expected that we'll get rulings on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, and those rulings could affect the lives, rights and finances of millions of Americans.

CNN Supreme Court producer Bill Mears writes that DOMA, passed in 1996, defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes, like taxes. "That means the estimated 120,000 gay and lesbian couples legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia are still considered - in the eyes of DOMA opponents - the equivalent of girlfriend and boyfriend."

That meant that Edie Windsor faced a hefty bill for inheritance taxes when her partner of 42 years died. She claimed in court that she had had to pay $363,053 more than if her spouse, thea Spyer, had been a man.

But Mears points out that the DOMA issue is more than just a financial question:

The larger debate over DOMA's intent and impact 17 years after passage has driven a wedge between the executive and legislative branches.

At issue is what role the federal government should play when it comes to marriage - something states have traditionally controlled.

The other key case expected to be decided today considers Proposition 8. "In the 'Prop 8' case, the high court is being asked to establish a constitutional 'equal protection' right. It is the kind of hot-button issue that will define our society, our laws, our views on family," Mears writes.

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Filed under: Justice • Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
DOMA plaintiff: Case 'went beautifully'
March 27th, 2013
01:20 PM ET

DOMA plaintiff: Case 'went beautifully'

  • Today's arguments focused on federal Defense of Marriage Act.
  • It denies Social Security, other spousal benefits to same-sex couples.
  • The court heard 80 minutes of arguments yesterday focused on California same-sex marriage ban.
  • Live updates below. Also, read the full story; and share your thoughts.

[Updated at 1:36 p.m.] We're wrapping up Day 2 of the same-sex marriage court debate here - check out our main story for more detail and analysis as it comes today. As always, we want to hear from you.

[Updated at 1:20 p.m.] "I'm very optimistic that DOMA will be struck down, it has no rational basis for being," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said just now. Pelosi was at the Supreme Court to hear arguments over DOMA and California's Proposition 8 over the past two days.

Pelosi's district has been at the epicenter of gay rights for decades. She called the oral arguments at the Supreme Court "thrilling."

FULL POST

March 27th, 2013
07:46 AM ET

Wednesday'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...

12:00 pm ET (est.) - Supreme Court federal marriage law hearing reaction - This morning, the Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  That hearing will not be televised, but we will hear from lawyers and plaintiffs in the case at its conclusion.

FULL POST


Filed under: Crime • Justice • On CNN.com today • Politics • Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
March 27th, 2013
01:04 AM ET

Day 2 of same-sex marriage at Supreme Court

Day Two of the culture wars at the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, and another opportunity for the justices to give political and legal clarity to a contentious issue.

The momentous week kicked off on Tuesday with arguments over California's same-sex marriage ban, and there was little indication when they concluded how the court might rule.

The stakes are high as the justices could, in one scenario, fundamentally alter how American law treats marriage with polls showing the public becoming more aware of the issue, and in some cases, more in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to legally wed.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Courts • Gay and lesbian • Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
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.

FULL POST


Filed under: Crime • Justice • On CNN.com today • Politics • Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
Obama's same-sex marriage decision expected
Prop 8 and another appeal over the federal Defense of Marriage Act will produce blockbuster rulings from the justices in coming months.
February 28th, 2013
02:48 PM ET

Obama's same-sex marriage decision expected

President Barack Obama faces a monumental choice today over whether to put the force of his office behind the idea that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

Government sources say the Justice Department will by day's end articulate a legal position in the so-called Proposition 8 case, a ban by California voters over same-sex marriage that is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.

FULL STORY
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.

FULL STORY
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Obama DOJ weighs in on marriage law
Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of New Jersey holds a gay marriage pride flag in front of the Supreme Court last fall (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
February 22nd, 2013
09:12 PM ET

Obama DOJ weighs in on marriage law

In a preview of a major constitutional showdown at the Supreme Court over same-sex marriage, the Obama administration said Friday that a federal law denying financial benefits to legally wed gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.

The Justice Department filed the first of a series of briefs in a pair of cases dealing with the multi-layered issue, outlining the executive branch's positions.

The high court will hear oral arguments next month on the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 congressional law that says, for federal purposes, marriage is defined only as between one man and one woman.

FULL STORY
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.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Georgia • Justice • Supreme Court
January 7th, 2013
12:35 PM ET

Dates announced for Supreme Court to hear arguments on same-sex marriage

The Supreme Court has set dates in late March to hear oral arguments in two appeals related to same-sex marriage, CNN's Supreme Court producer Bill Mears reports.

FULL POST

High court and gay marriage: A 'major event in American history'
December 7th, 2012
07:04 PM ET

High court and gay marriage: A 'major event in American history'

[Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET] The U.S. Supreme Court's announcement Friday that it will soon tackle the contentious issue of same-sex marriage is "a major event in American history, not just in Supreme Court history," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.

"The Supreme Court is not just going to decide whether the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional, they are also going to decide whether Proposition 8 in California whether the ban on same-sex marriage there is unconstitutional, and that could affect all 50 states," Toobin said.

The court says it will hear two appeals: one involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their own state; and one involving a challenge to California's Proposition 8, a voter-approved referendum that took away the right of same sex-marriage that previously had been approved by the state's courts. Read more about these cases.

Oral arguments in the high court appeal will likely be held in March, with a ruling by late June.

Here's some of what's being said about Friday afternoon's announcement:

Edith Windsor, who had a 42-year partnership with Thea Clara Spyer and is behind the DOMA case, told the Guardian's Adam Gabbat that she is "delirious with joy."

FULL POST


Filed under: Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
Court to tackle key voting rights provision
November 9th, 2012
03:29 PM ET

Court to tackle key voting rights provision

The Supreme Court agreed today to decide whether the key enforcement provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be scrapped, amid arguments it is a constitutionally unnecessary vestige of the civil rights era.

Known as Section 5, the provision gives the federal government open-ended oversight of states and localities with a history of voter discrimination. Any changes in voting laws and procedures in the covered states must be "pre-cleared" by federal authorities in Washington.

FULL POST

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Early voting in Ohio gets green light from Supreme Court
October 16th, 2012
01:50 PM ET

Early voting in Ohio gets green light from Supreme Court

If you're a voter in the swing state of Ohio, you've just gotten an additional three days to cast your ballot.

A one-sentence ruling from the United States Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for Ohio polls to allow early voting in person beginning on Saturday before the election.

The debate over early voting in Ohio was challenged by Republicans who said they wanted to fend off voter fraud. President Obama's campaign and other Democrats in the battleground state said blocking early voting would cause problems for minority and low-income voters.

Read our full report from CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears here.

As Election Day nears, voter ID laws still worry some

Documentary looks at voter fraud vs. voter suppression

Supreme Court upholds Obamacare 5-4
June 28th, 2012
12:23 PM ET

Supreme Court upholds Obamacare 5-4

Editor's note: We're live blogging from the Supreme Court today as the nation waits to see how the justices will rule on the health care law. You can follow along below as CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears and Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin get the latest details live from the court as well as analysis when the opinion is delivered. Watch live coverage and analysis on CNN TV, CNN’s mobile apps and http://cnn.com/live.

[Updated at 12:23 p.m. ET] President Obama touted the benefits of the law he championed as he reacted to the Supreme Court's ruling.

"By this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administration and CEO bonuses and not enough on your healthcare,” Obama said.

Other benefits include lower drug costs for seniors as well as denying insurers the option to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions. It also provides free preventative care in certain cases and issues credits to those who can’t afford their health insurance premiums.

Each state will decide its “own menu of options” and they're welcome to come up with ways to cover more people and improve costs, Obama said.

The president said he respects concerns about the bill and he understands that people are worried that it was politically driven, but he said it should be clear by now he didn’t push for the act because it was “good politics."

“I did it because I believed it was good for the American people,” he said.

[twitter https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/218378521335181312%5D

[Updated at 12:16 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama on Thursday called the Supreme Court's decision upholding his signature health care law "a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law."

"They’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle, that here in America, the wealthiest nation on Earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin,” Obama said.

Opinion: Health care victory, but still a long way to go

[Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET]  Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minnesota, responded to the ruling by saying, "This is a turning point in American history.  We will never be the same again with this denial of liberty interests. But also it is a black cloud pragmatically speaking on economic recovery.  There will be no hope of economic recovery between now and the election. We have exhausted now our legal solutions to be able to rid the nation of Obamacare. Now, we have to look for a political solution."

[Updated at 11:57 a.m. ET] GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney is speaking now regarding health care.

“I will act to repeal Obamacare” if elected president, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said. “Obamacare was bad law yesterday. It’s bad law today.”

He wet on to cite the economic impact of the healthcare law. It raises taxes and cuts Medicare by hundreds of millions of dollars, while adding trillions to the national debt. It “pushes those obligations onto coming generations.”

Romney said that in light of the Supreme Court decision, Americans must decide if they want more government and more deficits and if they want to lose their preferred insurance or if they want to “return to a time when the American people will have their own choice in healthcare.”

“This is a time of choice for the American people. Our mission is clear: If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we have to replace President Obama,” he said.

[Updated at 11:55 a.m. ET] Vicki Kennedy, the wife of late Sen. Edward Kennedy released the following statement regarding the health care ruling.

"I applaud the decision by the United States Supreme Court this morning, upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. We still have much work to do to implement the law, and I hope we can all come together now to complete that
work. The stakes are too high for us to do otherwise.

As my late husband Senator Edward Kennedy said: 'What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.'"

[Updated at 11:49 a.m. ET] The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it is for comprehensive healthcare reform, especially for the poor, but it opposes the Supreme Court decision for three reasons.

"First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy. The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of “high risk” insurance pools that would have covered abortion.

Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. We have provided extensive analyses of ACA’s defects with respect to both abortion and conscience. The lack of statutory conscience protections applicable to ACA’s new mandates has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by HHS’s “preventive services” mandate, which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs.

Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly. ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money. This undermines the Act’s stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need."

[Updated at 11:37 a.m. ET]  Lots of reaction from the political world on this decision, which was seen as an issue that could sway the upcoming election.

But just as much as this is a political issue, the real impact is on everyday Americans.

Here's a look at how some of those people reacted to the decision.

FULL POST

Overheard on CNN.com: Are there winners, losers in immigration policy debate?
Readers are debating pros and cons of the Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona's controversial immigration law.
June 25th, 2012
05:24 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Are there winners, losers in immigration policy debate?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down key parts of an Arizona law that sought to deter illegal immigration. The court also let stand a controversial provision that lets police check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws if "reasonable suspicion" exists that the person is in the United States illegally. Some readers kept metaphorical scorecards weighing each side's views about heavier enforcement and possible consequences. With all this debate, are there points where most people can agree?

Supreme Court mostly rejects Arizona immigration law; gov says 'heart' remains

Some of our readers said Arizona got a raw deal.

Bob Jones: "So Arizona is screwed. The Fed won't enforce its own laws and Arizona is told to sit down and shut up and take it with a smile. Thanks for nothing, SCOTUS. This is the first step. Eventually the people will have had enough."

eddiev5: "I think public opinion polls pretty much show time and time again what people are looking for. And it has nothign to do with the rhetoric you hear from the Democratic Party. On this issue, the Republicans are correct."

Gus Seals: "Actually this is a win, it builds a bigger picture over time how the feds are cooking the books on the number of illegals. The state can use the federal resources to check legal status so says the court. In the long run if the state says we stopped ten thousand illegals and the feds refused to do their job, it is not going to look good politically."

For many, Arizona got a big win.

Chaz: "I love how CNN tries to make this seem like Arizona lost here. They got exactly what they wanted and I say good for them. I have a very hard time with commenters from the East Coast who are just so full of 'forward thinking' opinions, but who don't really have a dog in this fight. This is a serious problem for those states who face these issues every day and I'm glad the ability to check a person's legal status is in place. I liked Governor Brewer's laws, as the state of Arizona faces terrible crime and security issues, due to the illlegal aliens. If the Feds can't protect the Arizona citizens, who can? I like the idea of 'self deportation'. The Mexicans think The AMERICAN DREAM is about getting on the government dole. It is about 'freedoms,' not breaking laws. Entering this country illegally was your first mistake. You broke a federal law. If you can't come in the legal way, leave."

Others were excited to see that the state didn't get everything it wanted.

JimmyNelson: "SCOTUS just smacked Jan Brewers hand.. and I like it."

This commenter said they thought Arizona's law is unacceptable. FULL POST

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Filed under: Arizona • Immigration • Overheard on CNN.com • Supreme Court
April 2nd, 2012
11:12 AM ET

High court rules against man strip searched for traffic violation

A New Jersey man who was strip searched in prison after being accused of failing to pay a traffic fine lost his Supreme Court appeal Monday.

The 5-4 divided court found two county prisons "struck a reasonable balance between inmate privacy and the needs of the (correctional) institution."

The conservative majority concluded a "reasonable suspicion" standard could be applied when conducting examinations of newly admitted prisoners. Albert Florence said he was subjected to what he called a pair of intrusive, humiliating searches six years ago.

Albert Florence said he was subjected to what he called a pair of intrusive, humiliating searches six years ago.

But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said the policy was designed to protect Florence's safety.

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Filed under: Justice • Supreme Court • U.S.
March 27th, 2012
08:06 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers go back and forth as Supreme Court mulls health care law

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments about President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, our readers are making some arguments of their own. Some are even protesting. Comment below and share your thoughts and ideas about health care.

Supreme Court divided over health care mandate

We've been hearing from several readers, including a bunch of iReporters, about this measure.

"We need universal health care," says Matt Sky of New York. He suggests the insurance companies have a conflict of interest when treating people. Jannet Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota, says she likes the law in theory but is unsure that people will be able to pay for it. Houston, Texas, resident Vera Richardson says we're already required to purchase auto insurance, so why not health insurance?

Some, like Mark Ivy of Farmersburg, Indiana, suggested leaving health care programs to the states.

k3vsDad: "I say no to this being a federal mandate. To me this is a violation of the 10th Amendment. This is an issue that should remain with the states. The states have a much better handle developing health care programs tailored to their citizens. One size does not fit all. Every time the federal government overreaches, it is never better, but worse. Give health care back to the states."

Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas, says he believes Obama's plan was a compromise, and he might even like to see it go further. FULL POST

February 13th, 2012
04:20 PM ET

Supreme Court justice robbed at Caribbean vacation home

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed at by an intruder armed with a machete last week, while vacationing in the Caribbean island of Nevis, where the family own a vacation home, a court spokeswoman said Monday.

His wife and two other guests were in the home at the time, but officials say no one was hurt in the incident.

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Filed under: Crime • Supreme Court • World
High court: Prisoner can appeal after mailroom mistake
January 18th, 2012
10:23 AM ET

High court: Prisoner can appeal after mailroom mistake

The U.S. Supreme Court has given an Alabama death row prisoner another chance to appeal his conviction after a mailroom mistake initially left him unable to pursue further claims in court.

Cory Maples' case now goes back to lower courts.

Maples was convicted in the 1995 murder of two companions, Stacy Alan Terry and Barry Dewayne Robinson II, with whom he had been drinking heavily. Court records showed that Maples took a .22-caliber rifle in his Decatur, Alabama, home and shot both men twice in the head, execution-style. He later confessed to police but offered no explanation for the crimes. The defendant was convicted, and the jury recommended the death sentence by a vote of 10-2.

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Filed under: Alabama • Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Justice • Supreme Court
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