Slatest PM: SCOTUS's Potential Prop 8 Anti-Climax

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 26 2013 5:16 PM

Slatest PM: SCOTUS's Potential Prop 8 Anti-Climax

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Same-sex marriage supporters and same-sex marriage opponents argue their points in front of the US Supreme Court on March 26, 2013

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

SCOTUS Speculation: New York Times: "As the Supreme Court on Tuesday weighed the very meaning of marriage, 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." Full audio and transcript here. More instant analysis here.

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The Anti-Climax: SCOTUSBlog: "After more than an hour of oral arguments this morning in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage, it came down to this: attorney Charles Cooper, representing the proponents of that ban, Proposition 8, returned to the lectern for his ten minutes of rebuttal time. He immediately confronted a question from Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom many regard as the critical vote in this case. Kennedy told him bluntly to 'address why you think we should take and decide this case.'  And with that, the Justice may have confirmed that the real question before the Court is not whether it would strike down Proposition 8, or what the broader effect of such a decision might be, but whether it is going to reach the merits of the case at all—a prospect that would be (to say the least) anticlimactic but seemed to be a real possibility by the end of the morning."

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

The First Female Head of the Secret Service: Washington Post: "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."

Another Senate Retirement: Politico: Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) announced Tuesday that he will not run again next year, giving South Dakota its first open Senate seat since 1978 and adding another challenge to the Democrats’ Senate majority. This is a prime Republican pick-up opportunity in a state Mitt Romney carried by 18 points, but Democrats have two strong candidates and promise a close election in a race that could also feature a divisive GOP primary. South Dakota is part of any realistic scenario that gets the GOP the six seats they need to retake the Senate majority in the 2014 midterms. Johnson is the fifth Democrat up next year to announce his retirement and the second to do so in a red state - a trend that has inched up anxiety in Democratic ranks."

The Strictest Abortion Law Yet: Associated Press: "Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed legislation Tuesday that that would make North Dakota the nation's most restrictive state on abortion rights, banning the procedure if a fetal heartbeat can be detected — something that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The Republican governor also signed into law another measure that would makes North Dakota the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome, and a measure that requires a doctor who performs abortions to be a physician with hospital-admitting privileges. The measures, which would take effect Aug. 1, are fueled in part by an attempt to close the state's sole abortion clinic in Fargo. Dalrymple, in a statement, said the so-called fetal heartbeat bill is a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until a fetus is considered viable, usually at 22 to 24 weeks."

"Foxy Knoxy" Gets a Third Act: Reuters: "Italy's top court on Tuesday ordered a retrial of American Amanda Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, re-opening a case that prompted harsh criticism of the Italian justice system. Kercher's half-naked body, with more than 40 wounds and a deep gash in the throat, was found in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia, where both were studying during a year abroad in 2007. Prosecutors accused Knox and Italian Sollecito of killing the 21-year-old Leeds University student during a drug-fuelled sexual assault that got out of hand. The two, who always protested their innocence, were initially found guilty in 2009 and sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison respectively after a trial that grabbed headlines around the world. In 2011, their convictions were quashed after forensic experts challenged evidence in the original trial, prompting accusations of a botched police investigation and leaving many aspects of the killing unexplained."

Ungoogleable: Associated Press: "Sweden's language watchdog has accused Google of trying to control the Swedish language in a dispute over the definition of the colloquial term 'ungoogleable.' The Swedish version of the word—'ogooglebar'—made the Language Council of Sweden's 2012 list of words that aren't in the Swedish dictionary but have entered common parlance. The council defined it as something 'that cannot be found on the Web with a search engine.' But Google objected, asking for changes showing the expression specifically refers to Google searches and a disclaimer saying Google is a registered trademark, the council said Tuesday. Rather than changing the definition, the council deleted the word from the list, while stressing 'our displeasure with Google's attempts to control the language.' Google refrained from commenting on the matter directly."

A Few More Quick Hits From Slate

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.