May 27th, 2009
05:16 PM ET

Sonia Sotomayor's history, in pictures

Judge Sonia Sotomayor at the age of six or seven years old.

A young Judge Sonia Sotomayor with sister Miriam and cousins.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
May 27th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Bush v. Gore lawyers launch new same-sex marriage appeal


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/27/same.sex.marriage.court/art.gayrally.cnn.jpg caption="A crowd protests the court ruling upholding Proposition 8 in Los Angeles, California, Tuesday."]
Opponents of California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages launched a new court challenge Wednesday, led by lawyers who were on opposite sides of the case that settled the 2000 presidential race.

Attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies have asked a federal judge to block California from enforcing the ban, known as Proposition 8.

"We are two lawyers from opposite ends of the political spectrum who have come together to support one of the most important issues of our time," Olson told reporters. The case "is not about liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. We're here in part to symbolize that," he added. Wednesday's lawsuit was filed on behalf of two same-sex couples who have been denied marriage licenses under Proposition 8. A federal judge in San Francisco has set a July 2 hearing on the matter.

"Our Constitution guarantees every American the right to be treated equally under the law," Boies said. "There is no right more fundamental than the right to marry the person you love and to raise a family."

Olson was the lead attorney for George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida recount. Boies, meanwhile, was the top legal strategist for former Vice President Al Gore, that year's Democratic presidential nominee.

California's Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the marriage ban Tuesday, but left intact about 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted before voters approved the ban in November. The court rejected arguments that the measure improperly amended the state constitution.


Filed under: Proposition 8 • Raw Politics
May 27th, 2009
04:56 PM ET

Video: Homeless teens

CNN's Erica Hill profiles homeless teenagers who have been impacted by the recession.

May 27th, 2009
04:52 PM ET

Pentagon scoop on North Korea threat

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on the North Korea nuclear threat on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/27/art.isis.nk.nukes.jpg caption="Commercial satellite imagery of Yongbyon Nuclear site from the Institute for Science and International Security."]

Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

Here's some insight to consider, as North Korea launches short range rockets and threatens military action, while thousands of US troops are stationed in the region:

– Four US military sources tell me there is no evidence North Korea has restarted its nuclear plant. An analysis of commercial satellite imagery by the Institute for Science and International Security makes a similar observation. Based on their reading of satellite images taken May 26th there does not appear to be any emissions from the plant.  That’s not to say the situation won’t change.

– There is no unusual military movement on the North Korean side of the border, US military sources say, noting that NK is ‘getting a lot of mileage” out of this rhetoric and saber rattling, as always. But there's no evidence at this point that North Korea is taking any conventional military steps.

– I am told the US has no current plans to move any units around inside the Pacific theater or send fresh units there. US troops in Korea are always at the ready but there is no move to step up the stance.

– There is concern about the nuclear test. The US is analyzing air samples and we might get some results by the end of the week

The bottom line: there is tons of rhetoric, little action. The big focus remains the nuke test.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Barbara Starr • North Korea • Nuclear Weapons
May 27th, 2009
04:41 PM ET

From the Bronx to the bench: Sotomayor's key cases and arguments

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/27/sotomayor.problems/art.sotomayor.latino.jpg]


President Obama on Tuesday nominated federal appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If confirmed, Sotomayor, 54, would be the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice and the third woman to serve on the high court.

Sotomayor "is an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice," Obama said at a White House announcement.

She "has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice," he added.

Go here to learn more about Judge Sotomayor's key cases and arguments.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
May 27th, 2009
04:32 PM ET

What's really going on at North Korea's plutonium plant? Check out these photos

Institute for Science and International Security

Several South Korean news agencies have reported that North Korea may have begun reprocessing spent nuclear fuel at its plutonium separation plant at Yongbyon. These reports apparently reference recent classified US imagery which reportedly show steam present at the reprocessing facility. North Korea runs an adjacent coal-fired plant to generate steam for processes at the reprocessing plant.

But these commercial satellite images from DigitalGlobe taken on May 26, 2009 do not show any steam from the pipes running from the coal-fired plant to the reprocessing plant.


Filed under: 360° Radar • North Korea • Nuclear Weapons
May 27th, 2009
04:21 PM ET

Ted and Dave’s excellent Prop 8 adventure

Ashby Jones
The Wall Street Journal Blog

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/26/california.same.sex.marriage/art.prop8.cnn.jpg caption="Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California, faced a constitutionality test but was upheld."]

Tuesday was a bad day for opponents of Proposition 8 for an obvious reason: the California Supreme Court upheld the ballot initiative, passed last November by California voters and which bans same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

But once these same opponents finish reading the court’s 136-page decision and digesting what the justices had to say about revisions to the state constitution, they perhaps had even more reason to feel chagrined.

This LA Times article lays out the issue well.

At issue in the case was whether Proposition 8 was properly defined as a constitutional revision or a constitutional amendment. The former requires an act of the legislature; the latter can be effected by a popular vote. In describing Proposition 8’s “limited effect,” the majority said that simply reserving the term “marriage” for opposite-sex couples “does not have a substantial, or, indeed, even a minimal effect on the governmental plan or framework of California that existed prior to the amendment.” [emphasis in original]. In other words, in order for a constitutional change to be deemed a revision — and therefore require legislative action — the change need alter the “governmental plan or framework of California.”


Filed under: 360° Radar • Proposition 8
May 27th, 2009
04:21 PM ET

My inside tips for Sonia

Kenneth Duberstein
The Daily Beast

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/27/sotomayor.catholic/art.sotomayor1.cnn.jpg caption="If confirmed, Sonia Sotomayor would be the sixth Catholic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court."]

Unless she is found to be an ax murderer or a secret Red Sox fan living in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, Judge Sotomayor will likely be the newest member of the Supremes. That said, confirmations are never easy and often incredibly contentious—especially for U.S. Supreme Court seats, which come with lifetime tenure. Too often in the last two decades they have taken on many of the attributes of a political campaign (see Bork, Thomas, Souter, Roberts, and Alito) with attack ads, focus groups, polling, and other obscenely expensive, hyperventilated lobbying by the far left and the far right.

As a veteran of some of these titanic battles—I was part of the shepherding team for Sandra Day O'Connor and then oversaw the nomination and confirmation of Anthony Kennedy in the Reagan White House, and served as the pro-bono Sherpa for President George H.W. Bush's two nominees, David Souter and Clarence Thomas—I’ve assembled a tried-and-true list that friends have dubbed Duberstein’s Dos and Don’ts. Following these Ten Commandments, Judge Sotomayor, and you’ll find a smoother pathway to Senate confirmation before the first Monday in October.

1. Personal stories are compelling every time. You have a great life story: Keep telling it. Clarence Thomas was the poor young man from Pinpoint, Georgia, who grew up without indoor plumbing on the wrong side of the tracks and made it big. My draft of his opening statement turned Bob Gates, the faceless bureaucrat trying to be CIA chief during the Bush 41 years, into the guy who arrived in town with all his belongings in the back of a beat-up Mustang convertible. America loves personal stories from humble beginnings. The South Bronx is a winner.


Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
May 27th, 2009
04:06 PM ET

New Jersey attorney, a former prosecutor, charged with murder

Tom Cohen

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/05/20/lawyer.charged/art.prosecutor.jpg caption="Former federal prosecutor Paul Bergrin is charged with leading a racketeering conspiracy that included a murder."]

A former federal prosecutor was arrested Wednesday on charges related to the murder of a witness in a drug case, among many other counts, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark, New Jersey, said.

Former federal prosecutor Paul Bergrin is charged with leading a racketeering conspiracy that included a murder.

Paul Bergrin and three others were taken into custody after a federal grand jury in New Jersey indicted them on 14 counts, including murder, racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering charges, a statement from Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra Jr. said.

The indictment charges Bergrin with leading a racketeering conspiracy that included the murder of a witness in a drug case and an attempt to hire a hit man in another drug case, the statement said. Bergrin also is charged with wire fraud and money laundering, Marra said.

Gerald Shargel, Bergrin's attorney, said his client would plead not guilty to all charges.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment
May 27th, 2009
03:40 PM ET

Colin and Cosby flunk out

Mansfield Frazier
The Daily Beast

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/10/powell.service/art.powell.afp.gi.jpg]

Colin Powell and Bill Cosby have a bold agenda to remake inner-city education, but The Daily Beast’s Mansfield B. Frazier gives their program an F.

May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
—Bob Dylan, “Forever Young”

Two of America’s brightest, most revered, and obviously caring African-American men, Colin Powell and Bill Cosby, are currently touring the country in an attempt to assist schools in raising their abysmally low high-school graduation rates. After listening intently to them, it’s hard to wonder how they can be so right—and so wrong—at the same instance.

America’s Promise Alliance is Colin and Alma Powell’s effort to help failing urban schools, and he’s enlisted Bill Cosby to help him. The Colin & Cosby Show has the support of some of America’s top corporations, and they are making the rightful case that pointing a finger solely at failing schools—without taking a hard, stern look at the parents of these failing students, and examining their role (actually, their failures) in the entire process—is not only unfair, but also counterproductive. Parents have a critical responsibility in terms of preparing their progeny for the education process, and in too many instances they are failing miserably. Too many children are clearly not being given strong foundations at home, foundations on which teachers can build upon. I’m totally with Colin & Cosby on that part.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Colin Powell
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