June 29th, 2009
12:55 PM ET
4 years ago

Justices refuse to hear case over protests at soldier funerals

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A small Kansas church that has gained nationwide attention for protesting loudly at funerals of U.S. service members killed in overseas conflicts received a temporary victory from the Supreme Court over their free speech rights.

The justices Monday rejected an appeal from Missouri officials over their efforts to keep members of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church from demonstrating at least 300 feet from memorial services and burials.

The church, led by pastor Fred Phelps, believes God is punishing the United States for "the sin of homosexuality," through events including soldiers' deaths. Members have traveled the country, shouting at grieving family members at funerals and displaying such signs as "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "God Blew Up the Troops" and "AIDS Cures Fags."

A lower court had granted an injunction blocking enforcement of the law until it could be challenged.

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Filed under: Supreme Court
June 29th, 2009
10:56 AM ET
5 years ago

Business as usual for embattled South Carolina governor

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has been at the middle of a media storm since disappearing for five days recently and then admitting to an extramarital affair.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has been at the middle of a media storm since disappearing for five days recently and then admitting to an extramarital affair.

(CNN) - A new week brings the same big problem for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

Sanford's trying to hold onto his job following his admittance last week of an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina. The governor also acknowledged at a news conference on Wednesday, upon his return from Argentina, that he did not tell his staff he was out of the country during a five-day period when his location was not known.

Sanford is scheduled on Monday to chair a state budget board meeting, his second public meeting since his return. Sanford apologized to state officials on Friday at a cabinet meeting that was covered live by the national cable news networks, including CNN.

Asked about resigning during a meeting with reporters later on Friday, Sanford said, "You take everything a day at a time. I wouldn't say anything definitive at this point. I say my hunch at a variety of different levels would be to continue on."

The South Carolina governor told the Associated Press on Sunday that he thought about stepping down until close spiritual and political associates urged him to stay on finish out the remaining year and a half of his second and final term as governor. Sanford, who is serving his second term as the state's governor, cannot run for re-election in 2010 because of limits on terms.

"Resigning would be the easiest thing to do," Sanford said in the AP interview, which CNN confirmed with governor's office.

This week several Republican state lawmakers, who are Sanford opponents, could publicly call for the governor's resignation.
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Filed under: Mark Sanford • Popular Posts • South Carolina
June 29th, 2009
10:13 AM ET
5 years ago

BREAKING: White firefighters win high court appeal

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling backed firefighters in a 'reverse discirmination' case Monday.
The Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling backed firefighters in a 'reverse discirmination' case Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. Supreme Court sided Monday with white firefighters in their workplace discrimination lawsuit, a divisive case over the role race should play in job advancement.

In the split 5-4 vote, a majority of the justices ruled that the city of New Haven, Connecticut, improperly threw out the results of promotional exams that officials said left too few minorities qualified.

Only one Latino and no African-American firefighters qualified for promotion based on the exam; the city subsequently decided not to certify the results and issued no promotions.

A group of 20 mostly white firefighters sued, claiming "reverse discrimination."

High court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor heard the case on her federal appeals court last year and sided with the city.

The Supreme Court was being asked to decide whether there was a continued need for special treatment for minorities, or whether enough progress has been made to make existing laws obsolete, especially in a political atmosphere where an African-American occupies the White House.

"Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.

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Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
June 29th, 2009
10:10 AM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Two-thirds think firefighters were discriminated against

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans think white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut where discriminated against when the city tossed out the results of a promotion exam after too few minorities scored high enough on the test.

Monday the Supreme Court, in a five to four vote, ruled in favor of the white firefighters.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey released Monday morning, as the Supreme Court handed down it's ruling, indicates that 65 percent of those questioned say the firefighters were victims of discrimination and should get promotions based on the test results, with 31 percent feeling that the city should a new test to make sure minority firefighters were not victims of discrimination.

"Not surprisingly, most Republicans think that the firefighters were victims of discrimination, but a majority of Democrats join in that view," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Fifty-seven percent of Democrats say the white firefighters were discriminated against. Two-thirds of Independents and three-quarters of Republicans agree."

Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court justice David Souter, was one of three appeals court judges who ruled that New Haven officials acted properly.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,026 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.


Filed under: CNN poll • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
June 29th, 2009
10:00 AM ET
5 years ago

King: Health care, climate change top talk agenda

CNN's John King looks back at Sunday's talk shows and what will make news in the coming week.
CNN's John King looks back at Sunday's talk shows and what will make news in the coming week.

Editor's note: John King, CNN's chief national correspondent and "State of the Union" host, examines the news made in Sunday talk and offers up this Monday morning crib sheet on what to watch this week in politics. Please note that all quotes are from rush transcripts and are subject to change. If you'd like to receive a sneak peek of next week's news in your inbox every Sunday, you can sign up for the "Political Ticker - State of the Union Sunday Edition" at http://www.cnn.com/profile/

(CNN) - A late June Sunday stirred memories of sparring of 16 years ago on the issue that was then, and is now, center stage in the nation's policy and political debates: health care reform.

We also heard a spirited debate over the wisdom, and costs, of the landmark climate change legislation that narrowly cleared the House of Representatives as the workweek came to a close.

To its backers, it is a giant step toward meeting what they see as a generational challenge to shift away from fossil fuels and toward an energy infrastructure that dramatically reduces U.S. emissions of so-called greenhouse gases.

To hear critics, the legislation amounts to more government intervention in the marketplace, ignores what they see as the big advantages of nuclear power and, as they see it, cedes more economic advantage to India, China and others.

Iran wasn't as much a Sunday flash point as in the previous two weeks, but it did not disappear entirely from the conversation.

And on "State of the Union," we made a point of beginning with another international story that, in our view, gets overshadowed too much: Iraq.

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Filed under: State of the Union
June 29th, 2009
09:00 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama to host reception for LGBT community

President Obama signed same-sex benefits legislation earlier this month.
President Obama signed same-sex benefits legislation earlier this month.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will host a White House reception Monday in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, but faces criticism for not keeping campaign promises to the community.

"I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans," the president said in a proclamation this month. "These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "don't ask, don't tell" policy in a way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security."

But critics say it's too little, too late.
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June 29th, 2009
05:39 AM ET
5 years ago

State of the Union: Matalin, Carville weigh in on Gov. Sanford

WASHINGTON (CNN) – One of Washington’s most prominent political couples weighed in Sunday on the latest sexual scandal to dominate political headlines.

James Carville, a Democratic strategist, and Mary Matalin, a Republican strategist, gave their unique takes on the situation of South Carolina’s embattled Republican Gov. Mark Sanford.

After days when his whereabouts were unknown and during which he was apparently unreachable by both his staff and his wife, Sanford held an emotioal and sometimes rambling press conference last week. Before local and national media, the governor admitted to carrying on an affair with a woman in Argentina, where Sanford had been AWOL for several days prior to the presser.

“I actually thought that his press conference was very, sort of compelling television,” Carville said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. The Democrat also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that he hoped Sanford would not have to resign because of the scandal.

The Democratic strategist added that Democrats should not view the scandal as an opportunity to attack Sanford or the GOP.

“I have no idea, but, if I had to guess, there’s going to be some Democrats that are going to get entangled in this kind of stuff because there always is people,” Carville, a longtime ally of former President Bill Clinton, said.

That said, Carville threw down the gauntlet with Republicans in anticipation of the 2010 and 2012 elections.

“If they go back to this what-do-we-tell-the-children, family values stuff, I’ll lead the attack on them,” the Democrat said. “If they just leave it alone, and say, ‘you know, we’re all human beings, we’re all capable of falling, let’s concentrate on policy,’ then that’s fine. Let’s move on to the next thing.”

Carville’s wife said Gov. Sanford should be focused on the personal rather than the political aspects of his situation – particularly the potential impact on the Sanfords’ four young sons.

“He has to make those four boys understand that this God awful betrayal has nothing to do with them,” Matalin said. “That he loves them and he needs to pray that they will forgive him. That’s his number one job.”
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June 29th, 2009
05:37 AM ET
5 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: June 29, 2009

ALT TEXT

The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.

WASHINGTON/POLITICAL
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.

CNN: Iraqi troops ready to secure major cities, top U.S. general says
Despite some high-profile bombings in recent days, Iraq's security forces are ready to take over for U.S. forces this week to stabilize the nation's major cities, the U.S. commander in Iraq told CNN on Sunday.

CNN: Pawlenty: GOP's 'clearly' been damaged
With two prominent Republicans falling prey to sexual scandals in as many weeks, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty candidly conceded Sunday that his party is in trouble.

CNN: Sanford's mistress mum on affair, e-mail
The woman with whom South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford had an affair broke her silence Sunday long enough to say she wouldn't discuss her relationship with the now-embattled governor.

WSJ: New Rift Opens Over Rights of Detainees
The Justice Department has determined that detainees tried by military commissions in the U.S. can claim at least some constitutional rights, particularly protection against the use of statements taken through coercive interrogations, officials said.

USA Today: Fewer civilian deaths crucial in Afghanistan
The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan enters a critical phase this summer under a new commander whose goal will be to reduce the number of civilian casualties and restrict the ability of insurgents to attack freely, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in an interview.

Washington Post: How a Loophole Benefits GE in Bank Rescue
General Electric, the world's largest industrial company, has quietly become the biggest beneficiary of one of the government's key rescue programs for banks.

LA Times: Obama champions energy bill but not its tariffs
President Obama on Sunday called a House-passed energy bill "an extraordinary first step" toward halting global warming and reducing the use of fossil fuels, but he expressed reservations about a controversial provision that would slap tariffs on imports from countries that do not similarly crack down on greenhouse gas emissions.

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Filed under: Political Hot Topics
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