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Legal

The Takeaway

First Day of Hearings in Snyder v. Phelps

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Adam Liptak, Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, describes the first day of hearings in the controversial Supreme Court case between the Westboro Baptist Church and a man who is suing them for protesting outside his son's military funeral in 2006.

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The Takeaway

Ahmed Ghailani Trial Begins

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The first civilian trial for a former Guantánamo Bay detainee begins today. Tanzanian-born Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is accused of bombing embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, killing hundreds.

WNYC Reporter Ailsa Chang is covering the trial.

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The Takeaway

Westboro Baptist Church to Test Free Speech Protections

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, will soon stand before the nation’s top court to argue for their constitutional right to protest outside soldiers’ funerals. In their view, American deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God’s punishment for the country’s acceptance of homosexuality.

Albert Snyder is the plaintiff in the case; his son, U.S. Marine Matthew Snyder, was killed in Iraq in 2006. The WBC went to Snyder's funeral in Maryland, holding signs that read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and other fiery epithets. Snyder fought the group and won in a lower court, arguing the church deliberately sought to inflict emotional distress, but that decision was overturned at a higher court. The Supreme Court has traditionally been very reluctant to impose limits on our freedom of speech, even offensive speech: will this case qualify?

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The Takeaway

Have You Ever Wanted to Outlaw Speech?

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Supreme Court will hear arguments next week in a case that may test the limits of free speech. What's something you’ve heard or read that you thought should be outlawed?

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The Takeaway

U.S. Soldier Faces Court-Martial On Murder Charges

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock could potentially face a court-martial after becoming the first of 5 soldiers to face an Article 32 hearing – the equivalent of a grand jury – yesterday, on charges of murdering 3 unarmed Afghan civilians. 

Marcus Mabry, associate national editor for The New York Times, has been following this story and shares the developments with us.

Click after the jump to see a video of Morlock confessing to the murders.

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The Takeaway

Becoming a Parent in a State That's Outlawed Gay Adoption

Monday, September 13, 2010

To people in Miami, Charles Perez is a familiar face. He used to be a television news anchor, and he’s currently writing a book called “Confessions of a Gay Anchorman.”

But behind Charles’s familiar face and authoritative television presence is a journey to parenthood that has been incredibly difficult, at times. Charles and his husband wanted to adopt a child. But in the state of Florida, it’s still against the law for gay and lesbian people to adopt. In order to adopt, they temporarily moved to Illinois, and then later to Kansas, where they were eventually able to adopt their daughter.

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The Takeaway

Discrimination and Language: The Word 'Boy'

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Sometimes a word is just a word. But other times, it’s an indicator of something more troubling on the part of the speaker. Take, for example, the word “boy.” When being used to refer to a small child, most of us don’t think twice. But when the word “boy” refers to an adult black man, and the speaker is his white supervisor who’s just passed him up for a promotion, it takes on a much different meaning.

It’s for this reason that John Hithon, an employee of the Tyson chicken processing plant in Gadsden, Alabama, sued his employers for workplace discrimination.

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The Takeaway

Trial to Begin for Youngest Guantánamo Detainee

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jury selection is set to get underway today in his controversial trial of 23-year-old Canadian Omar Khadr, the only Westerner remaining at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba. Khadr currently faces five charges of war crimes, including the fatal wounding of U.S. Delta Force soldier Christopher Speer in Afghanistan. Khadr has been imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay since the age of 15. This trial is the first war crimes trial under the Obama administration. 

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The Takeaway

Adoptees Fight for Access to Original Birth Certificates

Monday, August 02, 2010

There are between six and eight million adopted people in the United States and the vast majority of them will never have access to their original birth certificates. All information on their birth parents is sealed. For decades, several advocacy groups have been trying to change this, claiming that humans have a right to own their own histories.

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The Takeaway

Supreme Court Term Ends; Justice Stevens Wraps Nearly 35 Years of Service

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's a major day for the Supreme Court. It's not only the first day of Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings, but also the last day of the court's term and the end of Justice Stevens' tenure on the bench. But before the court breaks for the summer, there are four remaining cases on which the judges are expected to rule.

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The Takeaway

Supreme Court Limits 'Honest Services' Law Frequently Used in Fraud Cases

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Supreme Court on Thursday narrowed the scope of a law that has put people like former Enron Chief Jeffrey Skilling behind bars. The law, known as the "honest-services law," makes it illegal to "deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."  In a unanimous ruling, the justices said the law’s language was too broad. The decision sends Skilling's case back to the lower courts and calls into question other recent convictions under the same law, including the charges against Conrad M. Black, the newspaper executive convicted of defrauding his media company, Hollinger International, as well as Joseph Bruno, one of the most prominent politicians in New York.

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The Takeaway

Latest on Investigation and Interrogation of Faisal Shahzad

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The question everybody is asking this week has been, who is 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad, the man held and accused of placing a car bomb in New York's Times Square over the weekend? After two days of intense interrogation efforts, news continues to trickle in about the motives and connections behind the attempted attack.

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The Takeaway

Arizona's New Immigration Law Sparks Lawsuits, Protests, and A Roadmap for Reform

Friday, April 30, 2010

Democrats unveiled a framework for immigration reform yesterday, just as cities across the country are bracing for big May Day protests by Immigrant advocacy groups. The groups are hoping to put pressure on Washington to speed up changes to current laws, which some say endanger families with members that have come to the U.S. illegally.


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The Takeaway

Settlement with Havasupai Tribe Means $700,000 for Unauthorized Use of DNA

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The University of Arizona has agreed to pay $700,000 to 41 Havasupai tribal citizens to settle claims that the university misused DNA samples given by tribe members over a decade ago.

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The Takeaway

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers on Marijuana Dispensaries

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

John Hockenberry sat down with Colorado Attorney General John Suthers earlier this week, and part of their conversation we're bringing to you here online.  John asked Suthers about the growing numbers of medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, the voters' initiatives that Suthers says are being badly stretched to allow this many dispensaries, and his desire to have Colorado voters explicitly vote on what he calls "back door legalization."

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The Takeaway

Marijuana: The (Legit) 21st Century Cash Crop?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Activists seem to be gaining ground in their fight to normalize pot use in the U.S.: Fourteen states have legalized medical marijuana to some extent, and fourteen others have marijuana-related proposals in the works. 

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The Takeaway

Immigrants Facing Harsh Sentencing for Minor Infractions

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When 28-year-old Jerry Lemaine of Long Island was told to plead guilty to ownership of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana posession, he probably didn't realize that it would result in his deportation to his family's home country of Haiti. Why is the American legal system levying such harsh penalties on non-citizens for minor infractions?

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The Takeaway

Mixed Legal Decisions for Bank of America

Friday, February 05, 2010

Yesterday the headlines about Bank of America came fast and furious. The Security and Exchange Comission came to a new settlement deal with Bank of America for $150 million; now it has to be approved by the same judge who threw out a much smaller penalty last year. Louise Story, business and finance reporter for The New York Times, helps us decode the legal actions.

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The Takeaway

Obama Administration Considers New Location for 9/11 Trial

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Obama administration is considering moving the trial of chief organizer of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed out of New York City. Benjamin Weiser, reporter at The New York Times tells us why.

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The Takeaway

John Yoo on Expanding Presidential Power

Friday, January 22, 2010

In the spring of 2002, members of the Bush administration came to John Yoo, then a deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department, to help the administration decide where the legal limit was between interrogation and torture.

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