Senate Chairman Opens Door To Federal Legalized Pot

In the wake of new state laws legalizing the use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing on the matter, and left open the potential for federal law to mimic that found in Colorado and Washington. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday released a copy of a letter written earlier to drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, asking how the Obama administration plans to use federal resources in light of the new state laws, as well as what recommendations the agency is making to the Department of Justice. In particular, Leahy wants assurance from the administration that state officials responsible for the licensing of marijuana retailers will face no criminal penalties … Continue reading

Reaffirming Citizens United, SCOTUS ‘Ignored Concrete Evidence of Corruption’

In simultaneously striking down a century-old Montana campaign finance law and reaffirming its own 2010 Citizens United ruling, the copnservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that unlimited campaign contributions “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” But in doing so, the justices actually “ignored this concrete evidence of corruption” that led Montana to enact its limits on campaign spending in the first place, says the chairman of a Senate committee which oversees the judiciary. Without hearing any arguments in the case, the Supreme Court summarily dismissed a Montana law aimed at limiting the influence of corporations and the super-rich. As it did so, the conservative justices reasserted their Citizens United ruling which two years … Continue reading

On Gay Marriage, Obama Talks The Talk — His Administration Walks The Walk

Although it thrilled progressives and other supporters of marriage equality — and maybe even changed a few minds on the issue — President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage earlier this month didn’t, in-and-of-itself, change any policy. Obama’s words don’t allow any new same-sex unions which had previously been outlawed, or even alleviate any discrimination against those already married. But that’s just what some largely anonymous officials at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were able to accomplish Tuesday for a lesbian couple legally wed in Vermont. Agency officials had previously denied Japanese-born Takako Ueda a spousal permanent resident card – also known as a green card – because, under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), her nuptials to an American citizen, Frances Herbert, are … Continue reading

Sen. Patrick Leahy Voices His Support For Kony 2012

A key U.S. senator voiced his support for Kony 2012, the online video which portrays atrocities committed by a Ugandan warlord and has become a celebrity-fueled viral Internet cause. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy visited Champlain College in his home state of Vermont Monday, to praise the role of students there in the Kony 2012 movement, which seeks the capture of Joseph Kony, a brutal warlord who has forced young boys to serve in his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and young girls into sexual servitude. The under-30-minute video, produced by the nonprofit organization Invisible Children, reportedly has been watched by more than 70 million people. Celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Justin Bieber, have been pushing attention to Kony 2012 in recent … Continue reading

Congressional Sponsors Angry After SOPA/PIPA Votes Delayed

Wednesday’s massive Internet protest against two controversial anti-piracy bills appeared to have some effect, as congressional leaders agreed to put off a vote on the legislation. However, it’s obvious that the fight isn’t over for opponents who contend the bills are so broadly written that they could lead to unchecked online censorship. Although lawmakers bowed to the extraordinary pressure of Wednesday’s protest — in which many popular websites “went dark” in protest over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate twin, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) — it’s clear they aren’t happy about it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Friday that he would delay the upcoming vote on PIPA. “In light of recent events, I have … Continue reading

SOPA Opponents Make Progress Ahead Of Blackout

Opponents of a bill targeting online piracy — but which they say could have far-reaching unintended consequences for Internet censorship — have made progress ahead of a planned web-based protest Wednesday. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced Friday that he would remove the controversial Domain Name System (DNS) blocking provision from the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), likewise, says that he would also modify the DNS provisions in the Senate companion, Protect IP Act (PIPA). The DNS provisions, opponents argue, could allow the federal government to shut down entire websites without recourse. Further, a bipartisan group of senators, including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), also asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nev.) to … Continue reading