DON’T YOU KNOW, THINGS CAN CHANGE, THINGS CAN GO YOUR WAY, IF YOU HOLDER ON FOR ONE MORE DAY: “If the Supreme Court decides to hear a case on same-sex marriage, the Department of Justice will file a brief urging the court to uphold the rights of gay couples to wed, Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview that aired Sunday. The possibility that the high court could soon decide the controversial issue at the federal level became more likely at the end of last year when a federal appeals court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in Utah. That decision was stayed pending an appeal, but rather than making his case before the circuit court again, Utah's attorney general took the argument directly to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to weigh in on the issue. Several other appeals courts across the country have heard similar cases that could also make their way to the High Court. The Supreme Court could decide not to hear the case or to postpone it, but if they take it up, Holder told ABC's "This Week" that the Justice Department will "file something...in support of same-sex marriage." "I think we will file a brief that is consistent with the actions we have taken over the past couple of years," Holder said. He noted that the government stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriages that was struck down last year by the Supreme Court, and that the federal government has begun extending federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples. "We are proud of what we have done," Holder said. "When you have differentiations that are made on the basis of sexual orientation, they should be subject to heightened scrutiny. That being the case, I think a lot of these measures that ultimately will come before the Court will not survive a heightened scrutiny examination." Holder, who has been President Obama's attorney general since the administration assumed power in 2009, recently described the fight for gay rights as the "defining civil rights challenge of our time." (via CBS News)
DELUSIONAL FLORIDA MAN NOT REALLY AS DELUSIONAL AS NEBRASKA AUTHORITIES: “A Florida man is suing doctors at the Lincoln Regional Center in Nebraska because he said he was misdiagnosed as delusional, and locked up for 20 years. The Lincoln Journal Star reported that 52-year-old John Maxwell Montin had been arrested in 1992 after he walked up to a Nebraska home and said that he was taking it back because it belonged to his ancestors. An 11-hour stand-off ended with shots fired, and Montin was arrested for attempted murder and dozens of other charges. But during the trial, the “narrative turned out to be substantially different,” according to the Journal Star. Attempted murder, a weapons charge, and 22 other charges were dropped. On a false imprisonment charge and a second use of a weapon charge, Montin was found not responsible by reason of insanity, and was committed to the Lincoln Regional Center. For 19 years, doctors based their treatment of Montin on initial police reports, and never read the transcript of the trial. But in 2012, Lincoln attorney Jon Braaten convinced Lincoln Regional Center psychiatrist Dr. Klaus Hartmann to read the court documents. In a lawsuit filed on Friday, Omaha attorney Michael Gooch wrote that Hartmann “promptly revised his forensic view of Montin.” Lincoln Regional Center psychiatrist Dr. Edward Kelly determined in 2013 that Montin had never been delusional in the first place, and that his actions had been caused by a medication-induced psychosis. But by the time of the trial, Montin had stopped taking the medication. “No matter what [Montin] said about the events that occurred in 1992, it was viewed under the auspices of him being delusional,” Braaten explained.” (via The Raw Story)
A YEAR GOES BY IN OUR LATEST RACE WAR: “A year after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of murdering Trayvon Martin, the trial's outcome clearing the former neighborhood watch volunteer is a source of ongoing activism and debate. After deliberating for more than 15 hours over two days, a jury of six women found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter on July 13, 2013. Today, Trayvon's family and their supporters are channeling frustration over the verdict into improving the criminal justice system and preventing racial discrimination. At the same time, Zimmerman's former attorney started a non-profit to address flaws in the justice system, while Zimmerman's oldest brother continues to work at changing the way people think about his embattled sibling. "Before (the verdict), there might have been some confusion or uncertainty as to how evil a state or judicial system could be, how blind a jury could be," said Phillip Agnew, 29, executive director of Dream Defenders, a human rights organization formed in the wake of the 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon. "But after that, it was really, really clear that we are prisoners of war. Our communities are occupied by a police force that kills, that profiles and is deputizing citizens and allowing them to treat poor people and people of color the same way." Zimmerman argued he shot Trayvon, 17, in self defense after the teen attacked him in a gated Sanford, Fla., community on Feb. 26, 2012. Trayvon's family maintains the young man, who was black and wearing a hoodie, was profiled, pursued and murdered. The case and outcome captured the nation's attention and set off demonstrations. Police initially did not charge Zimmerman with a crime, citing Florida's stand-your-ground law, which states a person does not have to retreat in the face of a threat and can use deadly force if fearing danger of death or serious harm. Now, Agnew and other activists say their lives have been inspired by a verdict they see as unjust. Trayvon's parents have a foundation named after the late teen that advocates for changes to stand-your-ground laws and supports families whose loved ones have died in gun violence. Motivated by the events, a California-based company is helping develop an emergency response mobile app, and an after-school academy for young black men in Pittsburgh is using Trayvon as a real-world example about stereotypes in the media.” (via USA Today)
GO AHEAD. MAKE ALL THE CHARLIE CRIST “NO. 2” JOKES YOU CAN THINK OF STARTING RIGHT NOW: “The governor’s race is barreling forward, but one key aspect of Democrat Charlie Crist’s campaign remains a mystery. Who will be his No. 2? If Crist wins the primary on Aug. 26 as is expected, he will have just nine days to designate a lieutenant governor as his running mate. That gives him less than two months to vet candidates and make his choice. The lieutenant governor job in Florida comes with no official responsibilities, except to take the place of a governor who is incapacitated. Incumbent Gov. Rick Scott left the position open for eight months after former Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll resigned in 2013. But Crist’s pick could make a difference in the November election, even while most Floridians will vote the top of the ticket. Observers say Crist, who held elected office as a Republican before changing parties last year, needs to choose a running mate who appeals to the Democratic base. If not, Florida may be headed for a repeat of the 2010 election, when low voter turnout in left-leaning South Florida derailed Democrat Alex Sink’s bid to become governor. “Charlie Crist’s biggest concern is finding someone who is going to bring the Democratic faithful to the polls,” University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith said. Crist told the Herald/Times he had not offered the job to anybody yet. He would not say who he is considering, only that chemistry and competency would be important factors in the decision. His time frame for making a selection? “Probably sooner rather than later,” Crist said. “It might be nice to have two people running around [campaigning] instead of just one.” The speculation has already begun. Many observers expect Crist to choose a running mate with ties to South Florida, the most Democratic part of the state. One potential pick: former state Sen. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat. Gelber has become one of Crist’s closest allies and serves as an adviser on his gubernatorial campaign. A former prosecutor and federal investigator, Gelber has a command of policy issues Crist often seems to lack. He would not say if he had discussed the position with Crist. “I am only focused on trying to help Charlie Crist get elected,” he told the Herald/Times. “Rick Scott is a dark cloud over our state.” (via Miami Herald)
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