The U.S. Supreme Court directly confronts the question of gay marriage this week with a whopping 2 1/2 hours of oral argument, accompanied by plenty of prognostication afterward about the expected results. It won't be until June that we learn how the issue is settled nationally. In the meantime, though, we do know a good deal about the views of the justices already.
To say that there has been a revolution in the law when it comes to gay rights is an understatement.
Welcome to a special pop-up podcast from NPR's Washington Desk. As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments Tuesday on whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional, our correspondents give their take on the legal questions before the court and seismic shift in the culture and politics on this issue.
Gay marriage is now legal in 36 states. And by the end of this Supreme Court term in June, same-sex couples will either be able to wed in all 50 states, or gay marriage bans may be restored in many states where they've been struck down.
Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 10:11 am
"Hey," the attorney general said as he walked into his final meeting with senior staffers Friday morning. "Let's do this one last time."
After more than six years running the Justice Department, Eric Holder took a seat at his polished wooden table and prepared to close the door on an institution where he'd spent countless hours since September 1976.
Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 4:55 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Columnists E J Dionne and David Brooks are with us, as they are most Fridays, to talk about this week in political news. E J with The Washington Post; David with The New York Times. Welcome back to you both.
Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 4:55 pm
Hearing the words of a 24-year-old victim of human trafficking — and her struggle to wipe away her conviction on prostitution charges — inspired New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
That young victim, who was featured in an NPR story in February, endured years of rapes and brutal assaults by pimps who forced her into prostitution.
"I'm not ever going to forget what I've done or what I've gone through. But at the same time, I don't want it thrown in my face every time I'm trying to seek employment," she said. "I don't want to have to explain myself every time."
Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 12:04 pm
In recent campaigns, candidates have been asked to sign a lot of pledges. But one stands out from the rest — the 58-word "Taxpayer Protection Pledge."
Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz became the first 2016 presidential candidates to sign the no-new-taxes pledge. They're likely just the first dominoes to fall in line. In 2012, every presidential candidate signed the pledge except former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 10:27 am
The list of official and likely candidates for president in 2016 includes some prominent Republicans who are currently governors. Three of them — Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal — all tout executive experience as qualification for the White House. They also share something else — slumping poll numbers back home.
They've been working to make themselves familiar and friendly faces to the party faithful in early voting states, including at a big event hosted last week by the New Hampshire GOP.
Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 11:52 am
The House Select Committee on Benghazi announced plans to call Hillary Clinton to testify next month, right around the time her campaign was reportedly going to shift into high gear with a mid-May campaign kickoff speech.
At the same time, a new book about the Clinton foundation is generating the kind of headlines and news coverage no presidential candidate wants to see.
Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 1:26 pm
Senate lawmakers have confirmed Loretta Lynch for the post of attorney general after a five-month delay, voting largely along party lines, with Democrats in the chamber joined by 10 Republicans supporting her nomination.
There's a growing battle in Washington, especially among Republicans, over the Export-Import Bank, an 80-year-old federal agency that helps to finance American companies in foreign trade. Congress must reauthorize the bank by June 30 or it will shut down.
The Senate voted Thursday, 56-43, to approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch to serve as U.S. attorney general, ending a more than five month-long political impasse that had stalled her bid to become the first black woman to lead the Justice Department.
Lynch, 55, grew up in the shadow of the civil rights movement in North Carolina, where her family had preached for generations. Most recently, she prosecuted terrorists, mobsters and white collar criminals as the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, a district that covers 8 million people.
Being a White House press secretary sometimes requires taking a black eye or two for your boss — in this case, the president of the United States. Dana Perino learned that lesson the hard way. She served at the end of President George W. Bush's second term, and she's out with a new book, And The Good News Is ..., about her life and her time at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
President Obama used the backdrop of the Florida Everglades this Earth Day to highlight the dangers posed by a changing climate. He also took a swipe at Florida's Republican governor, who's been accused of discouraging state workers from discussing global warming.
"Climate change can no longer be denied," Obama said. "It can't be edited out. It can't be omitted from the conversation. And action can no longer be delayed."
Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 3:33 pm
The Senate voted 99-0 to pass a measure that would increase penalties on human trafficking – a move that paves the way for a confirmation vote for attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch.
The human-trafficking measure had been stuck in the Senate because of an impasse over language on abortion funding. But as NPR's Ailsa Chang reported Tuesday, the logjam was broken after negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. Ailsa said:
Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 5:59 pm
The man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 is making a new push for freedom.
John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to a mental institution for shooting the president, Press Secretary James Brady and two law enforcement officers. Now he's asking a federal judge to allow him to live full time with his mother in Virginia.