Reflecting an ongoing controversy in Washington, D.C., New Hampshire's House of Representatives Wednesday approved a bill to exempt employers with religious or moral objections from provisions of a state law requiring health insurance plans to provide coverage for contraception. The bill passed in the heavily Republican House by a vote of 196-150 after a spirited debate, with arguments for religious liberty met with vigorous objections to limits on women's access to reproductive health services.
Anti-communists at the height of the Cold War may have dreamed of the day when NATO troops would march triumphantly through Red Square. But they probably never imagined it would be under a Soviet flag, with the hammer and sickle flying overhead.
The United Nations Security Council is considering a resolution to establish a UN mission in Libya, unfreeze assets of two major oil companies and repeal a ban on flights by Libyan aircraft. Great Britain was circulating a draft of the resolution among the 15 member nations of the Security Council Tuesday night and is hoping for a vote on it by the end of this week, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
Documents discovered in the rebel-occupied capital of Libya offer evidence that the CIA assisted the now-deposed Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi in apprehending and jailing suspected terrorists. Those suspects include members of the rebel forces the United States and NATO have aided in toppling the Qaddafi regime.
Supreme Court justices and opposing lawyers grappled with the question of limits on the power of Congress to regulate interstate markets Tuesday in the middle of three days of hearings at the high court over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the healthcare reform bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2010. There were even sharp differences over just what market is being regulated under the act, who is in it, and when and how one enters it. At one point Justice Stephen Breyer suggested that everyone enters the federally regulated healthcare market upon entering the world.
When Eric Holder said in a speech last week that the President has the authority to order the killing of U.S. citizens abroad, many wondered if the rationale offered by the Attorney General for targeting Americans for non-judicial killing would also apply within the borders of the United States. Testifying at a congressional hearing, FBI Director Robert Mueller (left) said he did not know and would have to check with others at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday that the Obama administration would seek "international permission" before intervening military in Syria's civil war. Both men left open, however, the question of whether the approval of Congress would be either sought or required. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) pressed Panetta repeatedly on that question, but failed to get a definitive answer.
In what may be a tale too bizarre to be believed by millions of Americans, the U.S. Senate appears ready to pass a bill that will designate the entire earth, including the United States and its territories, one all-encompassing “battlefield” in the global “war on terror” and authorize the detention of Americans suspected of terrorist ties indefinitely and without trial or even charges being filed that would necessitate a trial.
If the Republican majority in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., wants to shake up the political establishment, lawmakers there might look for inspiration to the Republican majority in the House of Representatives in Concord, New Hampshire. The rebels in New Hampshire did not fire the "shot heard 'round the world" — not yet anyway — despite Michelle Bachmann's Midwestern confusion on that subject. But they have fired a few salvos that may be worth Washington's attention.
"There cannot be the slightest doubt that the First Amendment reflects the philosophy that Church and State should be separated," said Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in the 1952 Zorach v. Clauson decision. Ten years later, Justice Potter Stewart said in his dissent to Engel v. Vitale: "Moreover, I think that the Court's task, in this as in all areas of constitutional adjudication, is not responsibly aided by the uncritical invocation of metaphors like the 'wall of separation,' a phrase nowhere to be found in the Constitution."