FROM Andrew Cohen
The Death Penalty Faces Another Trial Oklahoma is investigating last week's execution of Clayton Lockett — so horribly botched one witness said, "It looked like torture." The state used a mixture of lethal drugs never used before in that combination. Lockett was conscious for several minutes before dying of a heart attack. The state Supreme Court tried to delay his execution, but the legislature and the governor threatened impeachment, and the justices let it go ahead. Similar incidents in other states have raised questions about drugs used for lethal injections. Are they "cruel and unusual'' or does the punishment fit the crime? Why is there so much secrecy about the death penalty, as public support is declining?
Glenn Ford Exonerated after 30 Years on Death Row Glen Ford was released from Louisiana's notorious Angola Prison yesterday after 30 years on death row. He always claimed he innocent of robbery and murder, and prosecutors have now conceded that there was "credible evidence" that he should not have even been charged. After yesterday's release, Ford said the babies he left are now grown men with babies of their own. Andew Cohen is Contributing Editor at The Atlantic and Chief legal Analyst for CBS Radio News .
Marijuana Can Get You Fired -- Even When It's Legal While the whole country is watching Washington State and Colorado to see how their laws legalizing marijuana work out, the federal government still considers pot to be an illegal substance and employers are caught in the middle. Should they follow federal or state law? Do workers know they can still be fired for lighting up, even if it's off the job? It happened to a quadriplegic man using medical marijuana at home for his pain. Even before Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use, Brandon Coats had permission to use medical marijuana to alleviate pain. During the day, he worked as a customer service representative, and when his employers announced that employees would be drug-tested, he was honest about his home use of medicinal cannabis. Yet, when he tested positive, Dish Network fired him. Is his case a cautionary tale?
The Zimmerman Verdict and a Nation Divided Nobody doubts that George Zimmerman went out with a gun or that he used it to kill Trayvon Martin. But that wasn't enough for a jury conviction on second-degree murder or manslaughter charges, and Zimmerman has his gun back. On the streets of some American cities, there have been angry protests about race, politics and legal equality. Does Florida law favor gun-toting vigilantes? Did state prosecutors blow the case by over-charging and twisting facts? Will Zimmerman face future actions in civil courts?
Prosecuting the Boston Bombing Suspect Lying in a hospital bed, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged today with using weapons of mass destruction in last week's Boston Marathon bombing. Some politicians have demanded that he not be tried in federal court but that he be designated an enemy combat, which would deprive him of his rights as an American citizen. At the White House today, spokesman Jay Carney announced , "He will not be prosecuted as an enemy combatant. We prosecute this terrorist through our civil system of justice under US law" in federal criminal court. There's still debate about that, and about whether the FBI "dropped the ball" when Russia asked about Tamerlan, Tsarnaev's now-deceased older brother. We update those controversies and hear what's at stake for American Muslims.
Early Voting and Legal Challenges in Ohio and Florida In Florida, so-called early voters waited in line until two in the morning this weekend to cast their ballots. In Ohio, court challenges could cause long delays in the counting of ballots that could decide the presidential election. Andrew Cohen is chief analyst and legal analyst for CBS Radio News, legal analyst for 60 Minutes and contributing editor to The Atlantic magazine.
Will the Courts Decide Another Presidential Election? Twelve years after Bush versus Gore , there's still dispute about the US Supreme Court's split decision giving George W. Bush the presidency of the United States. Will the final decision be up to the courts this coming November? Republicans around the country have passed new election-law procedures aimed at what they insist is widespread "voter fraud." Democrats insist they're violating the voting rights of the poor and minorities. Some 32 legal challenges are now pending — 21 of them in swing states, including Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania — any one of which has enough electoral votes to decide a close election.
Will the Courts Decide Another Presidential Election? Remember Bush versus Gore ? That was the Florida case that gave George W. Bush the presidency — on a split decision by the US Supreme Court. Republican fears about "voter fraud" and Democratic accusations of "voter suppression" could make this year's electoral outcome messier still. New rules for voting have been struck down in some crucial swing states, but upheld in others. Some 32 challenges are now pending -- 21 of them in swing states, including Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania -- any one of which has enough electoral votes to decide a close election in November. We hear about Voter ID, early- and absentee-voting and the civil rights of the poor and minorities.
Sheriff Arpaio Faces Federal Complaint The elected Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona is facing court action for what the Obama Justice Department calls "a culture of bias" in which deputies routinely referred to Latinos as "wetbacks" and "stupid Mexicans." US Attorney Thomas Perez called it "an abuse of power…that disregarded the Constitution, ignored sound police practices, compromised public safety, and did not hesitate to retaliate against perceived critics." At a news conference in Phoenix yesterday, Joe Arpaio called the case against him one motivated by the federal government's dispute over his handling of illegal immigration. Andrew Cohen is legal editor for CBS Radio News and 60 Minutes, and contributing editor at The Atlantic .
Conservatives Justices Take Hard Line on Individual Mandate One major question raised by President Obama's Affordable Care Act is, just how much power does the so-called Commerce Clause give the federal government? Today, the US Supreme Court heard arguments about the so-called "mandate," which requires that Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty. We hear what the justices wanted to know and what answers they got from the Obama Administration and its challengers. (Special thanks to Gideon Brower for production assistance.)
Conservatives Justices Take Hard Line on Healthcare Law One major question raised by the Affordable Care Act is, just how much power does the so-called Commerce Clause give the government? The "mandate" to buy health insurance or pay a penalty if you don't came under harsh attack today in the US Supreme Court. Would it mean the federal government could require Americans to eat broccoli, exercise or buy funeral insurance? Does the Affordable Care Act regulate commerce or create it? Is there any limit to government power? Justices were demanding answers today. How well did the Obama Administration's lawyer respond? What's next for the President's "signature legislative achievement?" (Special thanks to Gideon Brower for production assistance.)
Stay on Execution Puts Spotlight on Rick Perry's Texas The US Supreme Court stopped an execution in Texas last night and agreed to review claims that race played an improper role in the death sentence of Duane Buck, convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and a man who was in her apartment in 1995. Rick Perry, who's authorized 234 executions -- more than any governor in American history, recently defended his state's judicial process, which promises a "fair hearing" that can be appealed up to the US Supreme Court "if that's required." Anthony Cohen is chief legal analyst for CBS Radio News and legal correspondent for The Atlantic magazine.
East Asia: President Trump's first foreign policy test Starting with North Korea's latest test of nuclear missiles, a chain of events is causing instability in Asia. Could it turn into the first real foreign policy crisis of the Trump Administration?
Political appointments and the reshaping of the judiciary President Trump has the chance for a long-term impact -- not just on the US Supreme Court, but on the entire federal court system. And his nominees are likely to get the support of a massive spending campaign by donors who don't have to reveal their names. Can President Trump "pack" the federal court system?
Cover-up or witch hunt?: The latest on the WH ties to Russia Less than two months into his Presidency, Donald Trump is struggling to get his agenda under way, making it harder himself with tweets that dominate public attention. Meanwhile, important questions are going unanswered: why have staff members and the Attorney General lied about contacts with Russian officials?