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SCOTUS: Corporations are people
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
June 30th, 2014
05:00 PM ET

SCOTUS: Corporations are people

By CNN's Deena Zaru

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that for-profit corporations can be exempt from providing certain contraceptives to their employees if providing coverage for those products conflicts with the corporation’s religious beliefs.

The Court's opinion affirmed the principle that corporations are people and therefore like people, have constitutionally protected religious liberty.
The 5-4 decision against Obama’s contraceptive mandate not only presents legal obstacles for the mandate but also sets a significant precedent when it comes to the court’s understanding of religious freedom.


Filed under: Obamacare • SCOTUS • SOTU Extra • State of the Union
A consideration of race
April 26th, 2014
10:56 AM ET

A consideration of race

By Deena Zaru

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action renewed debate about the right of states to act on the issue and whether a public university's consideration of race in admissions is constitutional.

Whether one considers affirmative action just and necessary or a form of discrimination, there are undeniable educational disparities in the United States based on race and socioeconomic status.


Filed under: SCOTUS • State of the Union
Are political donations a form of free speech?
April 2nd, 2014
06:40 PM ET

Are political donations a form of free speech?

By CNN's Deena Zaru

In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday private citizens can contribute to as many candidates as they’d like during a single election cycle. Contributions to a single candidate are still limited to $5,200.

In McCutcheon vs. the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the high court ruled in favor of Shaun McCutcheon, a conservative businessman from Alabama.

In a phone interview McCutcheon tells State of the Union “I’m very excited that our First Amendment freedom is being upheld in the Supreme Court… The Constitution guarantees the very important First Amendment right to be able to promote political ideas and change.”

The Republican National Committee agrees with McCutcheon.

In a statement, Chairman Reince Priebus applauds the decision and the RNC’s role in supporting McCutcheon:

“I am proud that the RNC led the way in bringing this case and pleased that the Court agreed that limits on how many candidates or committees a person may support unconstitutionally burden core First Amendment political activities. When free speech is allowed to flourish, our democracy is stronger.”

The FEC, however, is expressing fears that unlimited contributions would lead to corruption.

In a statement, the FEC says “The Commission is considering the impact of the opinion on its existing regulations.”

According to attorney Emily Tisch Sussman, Campaigns Director for Center for American Progress Action Fund, the ruling is problematic because candidates will be less concerned with serving the public and more focused on courting a select few wealthy citizens who could fund their campaigns.

Sussamn says, “The ruling for Mr. McCutcheon is unfortunate for the American public.  He argued that his First Amendment free speech was limited due to the aggregate limits on campaign contributions, when in fact, by striking down the limit, he has making his voice so much louder than the average American.”.

Sussman argues that “We the People” is really applicable to “we the wealthiest.”

“We are talking about people who can afford to give more than $123,200 per year on federal elections alone.”

According to an assessment by the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, in the 2012 election, 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions were donated by 31,385 people or in other words, the “1% of the 1%.” The Sunlight Foundation also determined that most large contributions support Republican campaigns.

McCutcheon tells State of the Union that “There are just as many wealthy Democrats as Republicans and the private citizen should be able to spend as much money as they want to on elections.”


*Susan Garraty contributed to this report

Filed under: elections • SCOTUS • State of the Union
Are corporations people?
March 25th, 2014
12:33 PM ET

Are corporations people?

By CNN's Deena Zaru

The oral arguments regarding Hobby Lobby vs. Sebelius commence in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. In this case the contraception coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be debated, specifically as it applies to for-profit corporations.

The mandate requires businesses of a certain size to provide contraception coverage for their employees. Nearly 50 businesses, many of them Catholic, have sued, and some have protested the coverage of any form of birth control.

However, in the case currently before the Supreme Court, brought on by the Oklahoma-based arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., and an identical case brought on by Pennsylvania-based Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., only certain contraceptives are disputed.


Filed under: Obamacare • Peanut Gallery • Religion • SCOTUS • State of the Union
January 5th, 2014
02:01 PM ET

Utah scrambles to stop same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage back at the Supreme Court as Utah officials scramble to stop same-sex marriage.

Filed under: Same sex marriage • SCOTUS • State of the Union
December 1st, 2013
12:23 PM ET

Supreme Court and the ACA contraceptive mandate

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear cases on the contraceptive mandate. Howard Dean & Rick Santorum give their takes on what the First Amendment means for this.

Filed under: Health care • Obamacare • SCOTUS • State of the Union
June 30th, 2013
02:16 PM ET

A battle for traditional marriage

National Organization for Marriage Chair John Eastman says it will be "state-by-state battle" for traditional marriage.

Filed under: John Eastman • Newsmakers • Same sex marriage • SCOTUS • State of the Union
June 30th, 2013
02:07 PM ET

National push for same-sex marriage

David Boies, co-counsel in the Supreme Court case against Prop 8, says the fight isn't over:

"There isn't any state we're taking for granted, but there isn't any state we're giving up on, either. Our goal is to have marriage equality that's guaranteed by the United States constitution enforced in every single state in the union."

Filed under: David Boies • Newsmakers • Same sex marriage • SCOTUS • State of the Union
April 8th, 2012
01:48 PM ET

SOTU Crib Sheet for April 8th


Today, Candy talked to Democratic Party Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) on the latest jobs numbers, gas prices and the political gender gap.

Then, Democratic Strategist Mark Penn and Republican Strategist Linda DiVall dissect what the polls say about the battle for the White House and what groups could sway the election.  Who are the soccer moms of 2012?

Insight into the Supreme Court's deliberations and upcoming cases with two former solicitors general Ken Starr and Neal Katyal.

And an Easter Sunday conversation about the role of religion in politics with Faith and Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman and United Methodist pastor Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and the Christian Broadcast Network's Chief Political Correspondent David Brody.


This Sunday...
April 6th, 2012
04:30 PM ET

This Sunday...

As Mitt Romney solidifies his position atop the Republican Presidential, we’ll look at President Obama’s re-election strategy with DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

Plus, will independents, women and Latinos decide the election, especially in the crucial “swing states?” We’ll ask pollsters Mark Penn and Linda DiVall.

Also, while everyone is still focused on the landmark Health Care Reform legislation, the Supreme Court prepares to hear another politically charged election year case on immigration. And did President Obama step over the line when he spoke about judicial activism? We’ll talk about it with Former Solicitor general Ken Starr and Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal.

And finally, on Easter Sunday a look at the intersection of politics and religion with Ralph Reed, founder and Chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), a United Methodist Church pastor, and David Brody, Chief Political Correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network. Watch a preview here.

It promises to be a great show. Tune in Sunday at 9AM & NOON ET.

Filed under: 2012 • David Brody • Debbie Wasserman Schultz • Emanuel Cleaver • Linda DiVall • Mark Penn • Ralph Reed • Religion • SCOTUS • This Sunday...