The Supreme Court gave no clear signal where it was headed on Proposition 8, but there was no mistaking Antonin Scalia's beliefs about septuagenarian breeding (He's pro.). Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says she doesn't use email, which means we can say whatever we want about her here. And Chris Christie vowed to keep Prince Harry clothed when the British royal visits New Jersey, even though "Naked Prince" sounds like a brightly colored beverage we've consumed on the Shore. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 26th, 2013:
GUN CONTROL: NO AGREEMENT ON BACKGROUND CHECKS - Sam Stein: "Negotiations over legislation that would extend background checks for gun buyers are still officially on. But aides on the Hill involved in those conversations said a breakthrough remains far off and discussions are unlikely to get serious for another week or so. 'My guess is after Easter they will all start really talking because then that clock starts clicking,' said a source close to negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity. The authors of the bill, set to head to the floor of the Senate after the Easter recess,were casting a wider net for potential Republican co-sponsors, according to a report this week. But one of those who reportedly being wooed -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- downplayed the report...That means center stage remains occupied by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)... Schumer and Coburn remain at odds over two central issues -- how those checks are conducted, and whether records should be kept of firearms transactions. Coburn wants new gun sales to use online portals for conducting background checks. Schumer wants a federal firearms license holder to do the work. Coburn doesn't support keeping sales records for private transactions. Schumer has said he sees that as potentially gutting the purpose of the law." [HuffPost]
VOTE-A-RAMA BODES ILL FOR GUN CONTROL - Sure, it was nearly four in the morning, but the world's greatest deliberative body wasn't afraid to make decisions about firearms. Roll Call: "Senators voted 50-49 in favor of an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to establish a two-thirds requirement for the passage of any gun control legislation in their chamber. While the budget resolution is nonbinding and the amendment did not win the 60 votes needed to be adopted, the outcome underscores how many senators strongly support gun rights, just as the chamber prepares to debate the biggest package of gun control measures in nearly two decades. Six Democrats from gun-friendly states joined a nearly united Republican conference to support Lee's amendment: Max Baucus of Montana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas." [Roll Call]
MCDONNELL SIGNS VOTER ID LAW - The governor is certain that the "Election Standardization and Keep This State From Hillary in 2016 Act" will bolster participatory democracy in the commonwealth. Ryan Reilly: "Civil rights advocates say a new voter ID law signed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Tuesday will creating more hurdles to voting... The Justice Department has to sign off on the law before it goes into effect. But that could change if the Supreme Court strikes down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states like Virginia with a history of racial discrimination to have their voting laws and procedures approved by either the DOJ or a panel of federal judges in D.C. Last year, the Justice Department signed off on a less stringent voter ID law signed by McDonnell that allowed for a range of documents to be used for identification at polling places. But the new more restrictive voter ID law takes away the ability of Virginia voters to cast a ballot after showing a utility bill, bank statement or social security card as proof of identity." [HuffPost]
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GAY MARRIAGE: JUSTICES WORRIED ABOUT PUTTING THE GAY CART BEFORE THE GAY HORSE - Times: "Several justices seemed to have developed a case of buyer's remorse about the case before them. Some wondered aloud if the court had moved too fast to address whether gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry. 'I just wonder if this case was properly granted,' said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who probably holds the decisive vote. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said there may be value in letting states continue to experiment. 'Why is taking a case now the answer?' she asked. Addressing the merits of the case during the first of two days of arguments on same-sex marriage, Justice Kennedy voiced sympathy for the children of gay and lesbian couples. 'There's some 40,000 children in California that live with same-sex parents,' he said, as the justices debated the state's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. 'They want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important.' But Justice Kennedy also spoke of uncertainty about the consequences for society of allowing same-sex marriage. 'We have five years of information to pose against 2,000 years of history or more,' he said, speaking of the long history of traditional marriage and the brief experience allowing gay men and lesbians to marry in some states." [NYT]
The White House devolved a bit. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. argued that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry in states such as California, where civil unions are already legal, but it should remain an "open question" in other states. "We are not taking the position that it is required throughout the country," Verrilli said of marriage equality. "We think that that ought to be left open for a future adjudication in other states that don't have the situation California has." The court was flummoxed by the reasoning. "You're saying it's got to happen right now in California, but you don't even have a position about whether it's required in the rest of the country?" asked Chief Justice John Roberts. So confused was he, Roberts repeated the question. [HuffPost]
An uncomfortable amount of time was dedicated to how long men can breed. Antonin Scalia, perhaps trying to impart to the world his own virility, got weird: "While listening to pro-Prop 8 attorney Charles Cooper squirm is fun, the real zingers come from Justice Antonin Scalia, who said, 'I suppose we could have a questionnaire at the marriage desk asking, "Are you fertile?"'' and went on to quip about Senator Strom Thurmond, who fathered multiple children between ages 68 and 73." [NY Mag]
The Huffington Post came out for marriage equality today, apparently. You wouldn't have known it from our "SHAME ON DEM" front page splash about Democrats who oppose gay marriage. We contacted the editors of our Gay Voices section to confirm.
Some scene setting, courtesy of Ryan Reilly: "Twelve hours before the Supreme Court takes up one of the biggest civil rights cases in a generation, Dave Odenbach was handing out lollipops. 'You want a Tootsie Pop?' the Minnesota native asked those who had camped out for days to witness oral arguments in the case that will decide the fate of California's gay marriage ban. Skyler Mays, number 60 in the line, took a bus in from Arkansas to try to witness the Prop. 8 arguments for himself. After hugging a reporter who identified himself as from The Huffington Post, Mays said he'll be watching Chief Justice John Roberts very closely. 'Justice Roberts has a lesbian cousin that's going to be here tomorrow,' Mays said as Jay-Z's 'Young Forever' blared from speakers set up on a nearby seat. 'So I want to see his reaction to certain arguments.'" [HuffPost]
Sure, why not: "Director Rob Reiner was the first person in the public line for the Supreme Court's oral arguments over California's Proposition 8 on Tuesday."
Via Slate, "Watch a Latino Pastor Yell 'Jesus' Outside the Supreme Court Before Getting Spooked by a Drag Queen"
WILL EVANGELICALS EVER SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE? - Jon Ward: "[Evangelical pastor and author Tim] Keller clarified that "you can believe homosexuality is a sin and still believe that same-sex marriage should be legal." This is the argument that some religious conservatives are already beginning to make, and looks likely to be the position that most evangelicals end up settling on. Articles on changing attitudes among GOP youth illustrate the move toward separating government-sanctioned marriage and church-sanctioned marriage. Privately, some conservatives say they are waiting to see what the Supreme Court decides in June before they make a tactical retreat. But regardless of the court's decision, conservatives will likely conclude that they have lost the broader cultural argument (especially among younger Americans) over the legality of gay marriage. The argument ahead, then, will largely be over the question of religious liberty, and whether moral objections to homosexuality within religious faiths deserve to be protected, and to what extent... On the question of whether gay marriage "would violate religious beliefs," white evangelicals have basically not budged over the last decade. In 2003, 84 percent said it would violate their beliefs, while 14 percent said it would not, the survey shows. And in 2013, 83 percent said it would, while 16 percent said it would not." [HuffPost]
Jon Tester, six years out from his next election, takes a courageous stand.. "Montanans believe in the right to make a good life for their families. How they define a family should be their business and their business alone," Tester wrote on his Facebook page. I'm proud to support marriage equality because no one should be able to tell a Montanan or any American who they can love and who they can marry." [Jon Tester on Facebook]
Series of tubes, cabinet edition: "Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano doesn't believe in using email. 'I think email just sucks up time,' Napolitano told an incredulous group of reporters on Tuesday, speaking at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. Napolitano, who said she doesn't text or 'Twitter' either, said she may use email 'at some point,' but right now, it's not in the cards." [Politico]
PRESIDENT NAMES FIRST WOMAN TO LEAD INVESTIGATIONS OF CRAZY MESSAGE BOARD THREATS - WaPo: "President Obama will appoint Julia Pierson, a veteran U.S. Secret Service agent and senior official, as the first female director of the agency, White House officials said Tuesday. Pierson, 53, began her career in the Secret Service as an agent in Miami three decades ago. She serves as the service's chief of staff. She does not need Senate confirmation for the post, which White House officials said would be announced Tuesday afternoon. Obama's selection of Pierson comes after an extraordinarily difficult year at the service, and amid calls that the next director make internal changes at the agency whose masculine culture was exposed during an overseas trip last year. In April, in preparing for Obama's visit to Cartagena, Colombia, for a summit of the hemisphere's leaders, several Secret Service agents brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms, where an argument ensued." [WaPo]
If Stephen Colbert's sister wins a seat in Congress, liberals will have to reconcile themselves to the fact that she'll have to be the Blue Doggiest Blue Dog in history to hold her seat: "Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch are running neck and neck in the special election to fill the House seat vacated by recently appointed Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), according to the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Among likely voters in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, Sanford, the former governor, would win 45 percent, and Colbert Busch, a Clemson University official and the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, would win 47 percent. The district leans Republican: President Barack Obama's approval rating there is just 41 percent, and half of voters identified themselves as conservative. But, as PPP notes, the relatively high profiles of both candidates could factor in. Nearly 60 percent of likely voters view Sanford unfavorably, while only 31 percent view Colbert Busch negatively." [HuffPost's Ariel Edwards-Levy]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby sloths, the poor man's corgi, are adorable looking and adorable sounding.
CHRIS CHRISTIE WILL KEEP PRINCE HARRY FROM DISROBING - This will play well in Iowa. AP: "Gov. Chris Christie says no one will be getting naked when Prince Harry visits New Jersey in May. A listener asked Christie on a radio call-in show Monday if there are any plans to make sure the prince behaves. Christie says he'll be with Harry the entire time and that Queen Elizabeth II knows she can trust her grandson with the governor of New Jersey. On his last U.S. visit, the third-in-line to the British throne was caught frolicking in the nude with a woman in Las Vegas after an alleged game of strip billiards. The governor says lots of young people make mistakes. Christie, speaking on TownSquare Media's 'Ask the Governor' program, says he's thrilled the prince wants to see the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy and be helpful." [HuffPost]
- Every one of Woody Allen's on-camera stammers. The video is 44 minutes long. [http://t.co/82PpBtnxty]
- The world's most expensive homes. [http://bit.ly/11D7ubQ]
- The Guinness record breaker for tightest parallel parking job. [http://ti.me/14rR0rB]
- SEO GOLD: The hottest men and women of the restoration. [http://bit.ly/XBUQqp]
- Wolves howl. [http://bit.ly/14pYA63]
- German shepherd howls to video of wolves howling. [http://bit.ly/11HKqss]
- The Pied Piper of ostriches does his thing. [http://bit.ly/1069hoH]
@TinaDupuy: Scalia wears a dress to work.
@pourmecoffee: Nina Totenberg is in the SCOTUS press room doing a tray of 5-Hour Energy jello shots and listening to Jock Jams on headphones.
@dan_munz: Whatever happens today, we should all feel good about the lack of "individual man date" jokes so far. Really well done, everybody.
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