TIME Senate

Ted Cruz: We Must Amend U.S. Constitution to Defend Marriage

Conservatives Gather For Voter Values Summit
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit, Sept. 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

The Texas senator called the Supreme Court's rejection of appeals to uphold same-sex marriage bans in five states "judicial activism at its worst"

Senator Ted Cruz (R—Tex.) announced Monday that he will introduce a constitutional amendment barring the federal government and the courts from overturning state marriage laws.

The announcement follows the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to reject the appeals requests of five states seeking to outlaw same-sex marriages, permitting gay unions to go ahead in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

“By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution,” Cruz said in a statement. “The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing.”

Cruz described the court’s denial of appeals, which paves the away for an expansion of legalized same-sex marriage to as many as 30 states, as “judicial activism at its worst” and “a broad interpretation of the 14th Amendment” guaranteeing equal protection under the law, with “far-reaching consequences.”

The Texas Republican isn’t the first to propose amending the constitution over same-sex marriage. In 2013, following the Supreme Court’s striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R.-Kan.) introduced legislation for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (formerly R-Va.) proposed a similar amendment back in 2006.

TIME National Security

Secret Service Watchdogs Raise Questions About DHS Oversight

Updated at 10:26 a.m. on October 7, 2014

A week after Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned amid multiple reports of breaches in White House security, congressional watchdogs are asking whether the Secret Service agency needs more than just mild reform. Among the more drastic proposals are shrinking its mandate to just protecting the president and removing it from within the Department of Homeland Security.

The latter move could brighten the spirits of the agency’s 6,500 employees by removing it from a department that has struggled from its inception after 9/11. But they’re likely to be less enthusiastic about splitting the Secret Service’s dual mission of combating counterfeiting and protecting current and former presidents, vice presidents and visiting heads of state.

“Long-term, the 60,000 foot view, there are some who are very critical of the switch that the Secret Service went through after 9/11,” says Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a top member of the House Oversight Committee. “That seems to have changed the dynamic and made it much more political as opposed to security-driven. And I think long-term that’s something we might explore is the structure of having it within Homeland Security.”

Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, another member of the House Oversight Committee, agrees that moving the Secret Service from DHS is a debate worth having. Connolly believes there is a morale problem at the Secret Service, citing the Partnership for Public Service’s 2013 study on the best places to work in the federal government. In the report, the Secret Service ranked 226 out of 300 agency subcomponents. The Department of Homeland Security ranked last—19th—of large agencies.

“I think the counterfeiting role really probably belongs in Treasury,” says Connolly. “The protection and investigation role I think might make sense in DHS but I do think we have to have a thorough review about the missions and whether they continue to make sense. Are they compatible? Do they detract from one another?”

Some Congressmen and former Secret Service agents believe that other, relatively minor reforms—like increasing funding to boost personnel levels—would help solve the cultural problems plaguing the turnover-ridden agency. Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has pushed back on the idea of spinning off the Secret Service to another agency, and has established internal and external investigations to examine potential reforms. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul believes that the Secret Service will “regain the trust” of the country by implementing the new independent commission’s recommendations.

“The first step to correcting the deficiencies at the Secret Service is to conduct a comprehensive, top-to-bottom independent review—before we start discussing other options,” says McCaul. “The Secret Service is a law enforcement and protection service organization, with missions concerning everything from protecting the first family to cybersecurity. Because of this, its missions complement the missions of DHS.”

Some former Secret Service agents agree that there are less drastic, but still effective alternatives to finding the Secret Service agency a new home.

“I don’t know if moving it out of DHS [would work],” says Mickey Nelson, a 28 year-veteran of the Secret Service who retired in 2012. “Then where would you move it, logically speaking? But I think that should be part of the review.”

“I do think the Service could use some additional funding and resources and I think that will be the central focus of the committee and the review,” he adds. “Look at the current training. Look at the way they’re aligned. I think the Secret Service will quite frankly welcome that.”

“I think the agency needs to look at manpower, staffing, cultural issues, try to restore or insure consistency between the agency’s mission and its day to day practices,” says Sam Shaus, a former Secret Service special agent who now sits on the St. Louis University Criminal Justice and Security Management Industry Advisory Board. “I think all of those things need to be looked at before any dramatic change that might involve removing the agency from the Department of Homeland Security or redefining its mission.”

“I think one of the dangers could be to try to initiate too many moving parts as a solution initially,” he adds.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 3

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. With 3D printing, prosthetic technology is poised to change millions of lives.

By Tom McKay in Mic

2. Dysfunctional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security undermines its mission.

By Daniel Kaniewski in The Hill

3. The web isn’t killing newspapers. Print readership has been in decline for 20 years.

By Whet Moser in Chicago Magazine

4. Skyrocketing drug traffic has deeply affected life on Indian reservations at the US-Mexico border.

By Shannon Mizzi in Wilson Quarterly

5. With Chinese elites joining the movement, the protests in Hong Kong could yield a partial win.

By Zack Beauchamp in Vox

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Congress

Top Lawmakers Demand Independent Review of Secret Service

Members of the US Secret Service arrive to escort President Barack Obama on a trip at Andrews Air Force Base on Oct. 1, 2014 in Maryland.
Members of the US Secret Service arrive to escort President Barack Obama on a trip at Andrews Air Force Base on Oct. 1, 2014 in Maryland. Brendan Smilowski—AFP/Getty Images

After the agency's director stepped down following security lapses

The top Republican and Democrat on the House’s government watchdog panel asked Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Friday to conduct a comprehensive external review of the Secret Service, which has been rocked by recent White House security failures leading to the resignation of former Director Julia Pierson.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight Committee respectively, wrote a joint letter to Johnson saying that Pierson’s resignation “by no means resolves” the questions they have regarding the agency. They asked the investigation to go “well beyond” the September 19 incident, in which 42 year-old Iraq veteran Omar Gonzalez jumped over the White House fence and ran into the President’s mansion wielding a knife.

“The panel should review not only recent security lapses, but the full range of management, personnel, training, and cultural issues that contribute to the root causes of these security failures,” wrote Issa and Cummings. “The panel should examine the process by which the Secret Service communicates with Congress, the press, the American people, and the President himself, to ensure that information the agency provides is accurate and timely.”

After Pierson resigned Wednesday following a brutal congressional hearing before the Oversight committee on Tuesday, Johnson announced that Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas would lead an internal review of the Secret Service. He also said that another panel of independent experts would be created to submit by mid-December a list of potential new directors and recommendations for reforming White House security procedures. In the interim, Johnson has named Secret Service veteran Joseph Clancy as acting Director.

TIME 2014 Election

Democrats Air Dissatisfaction With Majority Leader Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid attends a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 18, 2014.
Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid attends a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 18, 2014. Michael Reynolds—EPA

"Sometimes that kind of criticism goes with the territory," Reid said

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faced blows from within his own party Thursday, amid an election year in which Democrats are struggling to hold the Senate majority.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said in a private event last month that “the best thing that could happen” this election cycle would be if Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got “beat” and Reid got “replaced,” potentially by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-Ny.), according to a recording reported by the Washington Free Beacon Thursday.

In Georgia, former Sen. Sam Nunn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his daughter, Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, isn’t obligated to support Reid, who last year reportedly tried to discourage Michelle Nunn from running.

While Senate Majority PAC, the biggest-spending super PAC this cycle and an influential player in Arkansas and Georgia, is run by Reid confidantes, former Reid senior advisor Jim Manley says that Reid won’t take the comments personally.

“Everyone’s got to do what they need to do. I don’t expect it to have any impact on the relationships,” he said. “Sometimes that kind of criticism goes with the territory.”

Republicans saw the reports as another sign of Reid’s unpopularity, as well as a mark of discord within the Democratic party. National Republican Senatorial Committee strategist Brad Dayspring took to Twitter and called Pryor’s campaign “desperate.”

Both Pryor’s campaign against Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Nunn’s campaign against Georgia GOP Senate candidate David Perdue are between three and four points behind, according to aggregated polling data compiled by Real Clear Politics.

TIME Politicians

Tom DeLay Celebrates ‘New Life’ Following Court Win

Tom Delay
Former Rep. Tom Delay, R-Texas, talks with reporters after a lunch meeting of the Texas Republicans in the capitol on the day his conviction for corruption was overturned by a Texas appeals court. Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

He started by picking up a burger and fries

After former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay beat back money-laundering charges in Texas’ highest criminal court Wednesday, he drove with his family and friends to Willie’s Grill & Ice House in Sugar Land for a burger, fries and onion rings.

“Are you kidding me,” asked DeLay, laughing, when asked how he’s doing. “I feel great.”

DeLay has waited a long time to be removed from the yoke of legal troubles. In 2005, DeLay stepped down from his Majority Leader post after a Texas grand jury indicted him on charges that he improperly funneled donations to Texas House candidates. On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld an earlier ruling throwing out his conviction in 2010. DeLay has also weathered various ethics charges raised against him by Democrats in 1996 and 1998 as well as and a federal lawsuit accusing the then-Majority Whip of racketeering in 2000.

DeLay told TIME that his legal fees for “all of that” is “well over $12 million.”

Unsurprisingly, DeLay blames the Democrats for his downfall, arguing that they exploited a “stupid” Republican Party law that requires members to give up leadership posts if they are indicted.

“This is part of the criminalization of politics that the left is very much involved in,” he says. “It’s not just me—They did it to [Texas] Gov. Rick Perry, I contend they did it to [Virginia] Gov. Bob McDonnell, they’re trying to do it [Wisconsin] Gov. Scott Walker and many others.”

The legal battles haven’t sapped his enthusiasm for politics, however. When asked if he would consider running for office, DeLay left the door open.

“I don’t know what the Lord has for me,” he said. “I’m just excited about my new life. And I can get on with it.”

TIME

Sen. Gillibrand Speaks Out on Secret Service Director

Kirsten Gillibrand and Nancy Gibbs speak at the TIME and Real Simple's Women & Success event at the Park Hyatt on Oct. 1, 2014 in New York City.
Kirsten Gillibrand and Nancy Gibbs speak at the TIME and Real Simple's Women & Success event at the Park Hyatt on Oct. 1, 2014 in New York City. Larry Busacca—Getty Images for Time Inc.

'If someone resigns, it's always the woman'

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she wasn’t surprised by the resignation of Julia Pierson, the first woman to head the Secret Service, who stepped down Wednesday after the public learned of a number of potential threats that slipped past the President’s security detail.

“Obviously there was a massive failure that needed to be taken responsibility for,” Gillibrand said Wednesday during an interview with TIME managing editor Nancy Gibbs at the Women and Success event hosted by TIME and Real Simple. “But I do find that women are often eager to take responsibility for things… inevitably, if someone resigns, it’s always the woman.”

The junior Senator from New York has been speaking candidly about issues women face in the workplace and beyond since the release of her book, Off the Sidelines.

“I think for a lot of us, we feel deeply responsible for how our teams are run, how our businesses are run,” Gillibrand said.

Additional reporting by Eliana Dockterman and Charlotte Alter.

TIME Congress

Pelosi Says Secret Service Director Should Resign

Secret Service Congressional Hearing
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson is sworn in before testifying during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on "White House Perimeter Breach: New Concerns about the Secret Service" on Sept. 30, 2014. Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call

After White House fence-jumper incident

Updated at 2:38 p.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson should resign, a sharp rebuke from one of the top Democrats in Congress after a White House fence jumper made it inside the President’s home last month.

“If Mr. Cummings thinks that she should go, I subscribe to his recommendation,” Pelosi said, referring to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on a House committee investigating the security breach. “I am subscribing to his superior judgment and knowledge on the subject. But I’m also further saying that this is more than one person because there were problems before she went there.”

“Her leaving doesn’t end the need for us to know a lot more about what is happening,” Pelosi added. “There has to be an independent investigation.”

Pelosi’s office later clarified that she stopped short of calling outright for Pierson’s resignation.

Following a brutal congressional hearing on Tuesday, Pierson held a closed-door session with members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to discuss the Sept. 19 incident, in which officials say Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez made it all the way to the East Room before his arrest. The confidential meeting did little to assuage Cummings’ doubts in Pierson’s leadership abilities, however, and he told radio and television broadcasters on Wednesday morning that Pierson should go.

“I have come to the conclusion that my confidence and my trust in this director, Ms. Pierson, has eroded and I do not feel comfortable with her in that position,” Cummings said on MSNBC.

“I think this lady has to go,” he reportedly said during a radio interview on NewsOneNow. “The president is not well-served.”

A Cummings aide later added to those comments, saying that the Congressman believes Pierson should go if she can’t “restore the public’s trust” and address the cultural issues within the Secret Service agency. Pelosi’s office said the Minority Leader agrees with that sentiment.

Pierson said Tuesday that she takes full responsibility for the White House breach and that it won’t happen again. She also pledged a “complete and thorough” internal investigation and policy review.

TIME White House

Secret Service Chief Pledges ‘Complete’ Probe After White House Fence Jumper

"What happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again"

The head of the Secret Service promised lawmakers a “complete and thorough” investigation and policy review Tuesday, on the heels of a new report that revealed the man who jumped the White House fence on Sept. 19 got further into the President’s home than previously thought.

“I take full responsibility; what happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again,” Secret Service Director Julia Pierson said in prepared remarks to a House oversight panel. “It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly.”

The Washington Post reported Monday that Omar Gonzalez made it further into the White House than previously disclosed, getting all the way to the East Room before being subdued.

“There is no such thing as ‘business as usual’ in our line of work; we have to be successful 100 percent of the time, and we are constantly making changes and doing everything possible to ensure that we are,” Pierson said, noting that the Secret Service has apprehended 16 White House fence jumpers over the past five years, including six in 2014.

“I intend over the coming months to redouble my efforts, not only in response to this incident, but in general to bring the Secret Service to a level of performance that lives up to the vital mission we perform, the important individuals we protect, and the American people we serve.”

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who called Tuesday’s hearing while Congress is in recess, said the most recent security lapse called for greater scrutiny on the agency. Calling an internal Secret Service investigation “not sufficient,” Issa requested that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson conduct a “far greater and more independent” probe of the agency.

“Whether deficient procedures, insufficient training, personnel shortages, or low morale contributed to the incident, this can never happen again,” he said in his opening statement. “We simply cannot allow it.”

Issa said Pierson, who was appointed in 2013, had some “tough questions to answer” following the Gonzalez incident, including why the front door was left unlocked and why neither security dogs nor guards could stop the man from hurling himself over the fence, running 70 yards and into the White House.

The White House invasion is the latest in a string of high-profile embarrassments for the agency —including the 2009 state dinner crashers, the 2011 White House shooting and the 2012 Cartagena prostitution incident—but the first to occur on Pierson’s watch.

“The appointment of Director Pierson brought the hope that the agency would reclaim its noble image—but recent events show the troubles facing the agency are far from over,” Issa said. “The United States Secret Service was an elite law enforcement agency.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the incident “unfortunately causes many people to ask whether there is a much broader problem with the Secret Service.”

“I think my major concern goes to the culture,” Cummings said. “It is very disturbing to know that Secret Service agents in the most elite protective agency in the world feel more comfortable apparently—from what I’m hearing—coming to members of this committee and telling things than coming to you and members in the agency. That I’m telling you, when I boil all of this down, that to me is dangerous.”

Cummings added that the “jury is still out” on whether or not Pierson can “correct this situation.”

TIME Congress

Secret Service Director to Face Congress in Wake of Scathing Report

Two Congressmen talked to TIME about issues with the Secret Service, hours before a report surfaced that an intruder got further into the White House than thought

A report revealed Monday that the knife-wielding White House fence jumper 11 days ago got further into the President’s home than previously thought, on the eve of a congressional hearing about White House security and Secret Service procedure.

On Sept. 19, after 42-year-old Iraq veteran Omar Gonzalez jumped over the White House fence, he managed to run through “much of the main floor” of the presidential mansion and past an alarm box that did not properly warn officers of the intruder, the Washington Post said, citing anonymous sources.

The report put Secret Service Director Julia Pierson even deeper into hot water on Tuesday. Before the Post broke the story about Gonzalez, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a top member on the House Oversight Committee, was already questioning whether or not Pierson should keep her job.

“I’m not out for her scalp, but we’ll see where we’re at at the end of the hearing,” Chaffetz, a top member on the House Oversight Committee, told TIME. Chaffetz sees the latest incident, in addition to an event in 2011 in which a man fired at least eight rounds at the White House, as major national security violations. “When you look at those in their totality, you wonder if she is up to the job,” says Chaffetz.

Pierson served as Chief of Staff of the Secret Service from 2008 to 2013, and was appointed last year to be the agency’s first female director.

Hours before the Post story came out, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight committee, told TIME that he is unsure whether the most recent incident should force a change at the top. “This is a transformational moment for the Secret Service,” he said. “They’ve got to get this right, and they’ve got to get this right, right now because it can only get worse if we don’t take advantage of this moment. This is a major wake up call—major.”

“I wonder whether our guard has been lowered a bit,” Cummings added. “And if it has been, then we’ve got to make sure that we have a top to bottom evaluation of what we’re doing—looking at culture, personnel, procedures, equipment being used and every aspect of security—so that not only are we the most elite protection agency in the world, but also that people perceive us to be just that.”

Neither Cummings nor Chaffetz suggested that the incident would necessarily require a legislative fix, instead arguing that there must be a change in “attitude” or “culture” at the agency. “I would think that this is more of a culture situation, possibly leadership,” Cummings said.

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