Inside the courtroom, the debate over California's gay marriage ban was joined with sharp questions and a splash of humor. But where will all lead is still unknown. As NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, expectations for a sweeping and decisive ruling may be overblown.
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Chief Justice John Roberts set the tone in the opening moments. Almost immediately, he pressed the lawyer defending California's gay marriage ban on the most basic of points.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
All this week, we're reporting on a remarkable increase in the size of the country's disability programs. Fourteen million Americans now receive a monthly disability check from the government. The number has roughly doubled every 15 years. As we've reported, there are many, complicated reasons for the increase. There's also one, very simple one: Congress. In 1984, Congress changed the definition of disability. Lawmakers broadened it, and made it more vague.
For some analysis now, we turn to Tom Goldstein, publisher and regular contributor to the website SCOTUSblog. He followed the arguments today and joins us in our studio. Welcome, Tom.
TOM GOLDSTEIN: Hi, there.
CORNISH: So we just heard right out of the gate, the justices are questioning whether the defenders of Proposition 8 even had the standing or authority to be there, to be in court. What did this signal to you?
Now, we're going to hear from one state that bans same-sex marriage and could be affected by the Supreme Court's ruling on today's case. In 2008, voters in Arizona approved an amendment to the state Constitution that, like California, defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Tom Horne is Arizona's attorney general, and he joins us now from Phoenix. Tom Horne, welcome to the program.
TOM HORNE: Well, I'm an NPR listener, so it's a great pleasure to be with you.
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
North Dakota now has the toughest abortion laws in the nation. That's after the state's governor, Jack Dalrymple, signed three bills into law today. One makes it a crime to perform abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
As NPR's Kathy Lohr reports, that would effectively ban nearly all abortions in the state and sets up a likely court challenge.
Amanda Knox is led away from an appeals court in Perugia, Italy, in November 2010. Her murder conviction in the death of a flatmate was ultimately overturned, but now, Italy's highest court has ruled she must be retried.
William Irvine is a philosophy professor by day, but he has an unusual sideline: He's also a collector of insults. Irvine has gathered some of his favorite jibes into a new book called A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt — And Why They Shouldn't.
Irvine tells NPR's Audie Cornish that one of his favorite masters of insult is Winston Churchill. "Nancy Astor [said] to Winston Churchill, 'if you were my husband, I would put poison in your coffee,' " Irvine says, to which Churchill replied, " 'If you were my wife, I would drink it.' "
Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 4:12 am
President Obama has chosen 30-year veteran Julia Pierson to head the Secret Service. Pierson will become the first woman to hold that position and she takes the reins as the agency recovers from scandal.
Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 2:40 pm
The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments on California's voter-approved gay marriage ban, known as Proposition 8. Audio of Tuesday morning's arguments is available above and a transcript, as prepared by the court, follows.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: We'll hear argument this morning in Case 12-144, Hollingsworth v. Perry. Mr. Cooper?
ORAL ARGUMENT OF CHARLES J. COOPER ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONERS
MR. COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.
The Center for Investigative Reporting has a report today that shatters some preconceived notions: A review of records from the Border Patrol, shows that three out of four people the patrol found carrying drugs were United States citizens.
CIR reports this finding goes against the many press releases issued by the agency highlighting Mexican drug smugglers.
This artist rendering shows attorney Charles J. Cooper, who was defending California's voter-passed ban on gay marriage, addressing the Supreme Court on Tuesday. From left, the justices are Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, (Chief Justice) John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan.
During the debate over whether to invade Iraq, or whether to stay in Afghanistan, many people looked back to World War II, describing it as a good and just war — a war the U.S. knew it had to fight. In reality, it wasn't that simple. When Britain and France went to war with Germany in 1939, Americans were divided about offering military aid, and the debate over the U.S. joining the war was even more heated. It wasn't until two years later, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war against the U.S., that Americans officially entered the conflict.
Anthony Lewis, the New York Times columnist and reporter who covered the Supreme Court in the late 1950s and early 1960s, died Monday. Fresh Air remembers him by listening back to a 1991 interview in which Lewis talks about the responsibilities of a columnist and the importance of a correctly-spelled name.
Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 12:17 pm
I've been buying headphones for 30 years now, have owned more they I can possibly remember and still haven't found the perfect pair. I must chew through one or two sets a year in a never-ending, desperate (and futile) search to find the right acoustics, feel and functionality. I've tried in-ear buds, over-the-ear hooks, full-sized cans and wireless. Some sound great but fit horribly. Or the fit is perfect but the sound too tinny, or the controls don't quite work. The truth is, I hate headphones, especially because I hate being tethered to my stereo. It's like wearing a leash.
In the thousand-plus or so emails I get each time a ScuttleButton puzzle is posted, I invariably will get dozens and dozens of complaints that it was just too easy, that it insulted their intelligence, that I need to make them more challenging. That was clearly the case last week, as there were nearly 100 such emails.
Well, be careful what you wish for. This week's puzzle is one of the most difficult.
As The Voice returns to NBC this week for its fourth season, viewers are seeing two new, if quite familiar, faces as Shakira and Usher occupy the coaches' seats vacated by Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green. Its talent-show rival over on Fox, The X Factor, will also see two new judges when (if? no, "when," surely) it comes back in the fall.
So why does The Voice seem so healthy and The X Factor so wobbly?
Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 9:42 am
As Marcel Proust so famously documented, it's often the simplest of foods that can carry us back to remembrances of things past.
And so perhaps it's not so surprising that, when freelance food writer Anne Noyes Saini began asking New York's elderly residents about their memories of the foods of the city during the early- to mid-20th century, it was humble meals like baked beans and the fruits sold by old-timey wagons that most often came to mind.
As oral arguments were beginning Tuesday in the first of two same-sex marriage cases inside the Supreme Court, the steps in front of the court were filled with throngs of what looked to be mostly gay-marriage supporters, spilling out in front of the building and to the other side of the street.
About a half hour earlier, a parade of traditional-marriage supporters had arrived, later headed to a rally on the National Mall.
Last week, scientists announced they had sequenced the full genome of the most widely used human cell line in biology, the "HeLa" cells, and published the results on the web. But the descendents of the woman from whom the cells originated were never consulted before the genetic information was made public, and thus never gave their consent to its release.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, the day when white people no longer make up the majority of the American population is coming, and coming a lot faster than initially predicted. Today, we are going to look at how the browning of the nation could lead to a real divide between the older, white minority and a younger, growing, brown majority. We'll start the conversation about what that might mean for the country's future. That's ahead this hour.
You've probably been hearing a lot about how America's racial and ethnic makeup is changing. Now it seems as though some of these population tipping points are happening sooner than expected. In a few minutes we will talk about the implications of this in areas like the economy and pop culture.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We want to continue our conversation about this country's changing population. We hope you just heard my conversation with demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution and the University of Michigan and he told us that in just five years the majority of Americans under 18 will be members of groups that are minorities now, which is to say not white. That's a lot sooner than demographers had expected that to happen.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, when regular jobs can't be found or don't pay all the bills, many Americans turn to the so-called shadow economy, which is bigger than you might think. We'll talk about that in our conversation about personal finance just ahead. But first, we want to turn, again, to how the government is paying its bills or not. We're talking about the sequestration.