TIME Crime

George Zimmerman Involved in Florida Shooting, Police Say

Reportedly suffered a minor gunshot wound

George Zimmerman, the onetime neighborhood watchman acquitted of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in 2013, was involved in another shooting incident Monday, according to Florida police.

Lake Mary police chief Steve Bracknell said the incident involved two men in Lake Mary, local TV station WESH reports. Zimmerman’s condition is unknown, but police at the scene said he appeared to sustain a minor wound.

Police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett told CNN the shooting appeared to be a road rage-related incident, but TIME was unsuccessful in reaching Gillett to confirm Zimmerman’s involvement.

The Florida resident fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old, in February 2012 after an apparent altercation. The shooting and subsequent trial sparked a national debate about racial profiling that acted as a precursor to recent protests over police brutality of young African American men.

He was arrested in January after being accused of assault by his girlfriend. The charges were dropped after she recanted her story.

[WESH]

TIME justice

Attorney General to Investigate Baltimore Police Department

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appears before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 7, 2015.
Mark Wilson—Getty Images U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appears before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 7, 2015.

"We're talking about generations of mistrust"

The Justice Department is investigating the Baltimore Police Department to determine whether there is a pattern of discriminatory policing, and whether police are violating residents’ civil rights, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Friday.

“It was clear to a number of people looking at the situation that the community’s rather frayed trust was even worse and has been severed,” Lynch told reporters as she announced the investigation. “We’re talking about generations of mistrust, and generations of communities who feel very separated from government.”

Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake requested the investigation on Wednesday, and the Justice Department rarely declines such requests. During the probe, the Justice Department will track the Baltimore Police Department’s use of force, and its pattern of stops, searches and arrests. The Attorney General said that when she first saw the demonstrations and riots in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, “my first reaction was profound sadness, sadness for the loss of life, erosion of trust, for the sadness and despair that the community was feeling.”

The federal investigation comes just a few months after the Justice Department’s report on the Ferguson, Mo. police department following the death of Michael Brown last year, an investigation that uncovered a pattern of racist comments within the police department and led to the resignation of Ferguson’s chief of police.

The Attorney General acknowledged the recent federal investigations into police departments accused of civil rights violations, noting that “we’ve had a number of situations that have highlighted this fracture in various communities.” She added that she hopes these reports can help other jurisdictions maintain a fair law enforcement system.

“Our hope is that other jurisdictions, cities large and small, can look at these reports and say ‘are these the issues that I face?’” she said. “Our goal is to be a resource and a guide, but not to be a hand reaching into police departments…We truly believe that cities and police departments, they know these issues best.”

TIME justice

Baltimore Police Chief Welcomes Mayor’s Request for Federal Probe

Anthony Batts, Kevin Davis
Patrick Semansky—AP Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Anthony Batts, center, approaches a news conference before announcing that the department's investigation into the death of Freddie Gray was turned over to the State's Attorney's office a day early on April 30, 2015.

Anthony Batts embraces call for civil rights review of the “patterns and practices” of the city's police department

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Thursday he welcomed “with open arms” a request by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for a Department of Justice civil rights review of his department.

“We have never shied away from scrutiny or assistance,” Batts said in a statement. “Our work is ongoing and anyone who wishes to be a part of helping the department better connect with the community will always be welcome.”

Rawlings-Blake asked for a full-scale civil rights review of the “patterns and practices” of the Baltimore police department in the wake of 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death. Gray died from injuries sustained while in police custody and his death sparked outrage across the city. Six police officers were charged last week in Gray’s April 19 death.

“We need to have a foundation of trust,” Mayor Blake said at a Wednesday press conference. A “collaborative review” of the Baltimore police department by the Department of Justice is already ongoing, but that doesn’t carry the weight of the full-scale civil rights investigation Mayor Blake has asked for.

Batts noted Thursday the Baltimore Police Department was already attempting to address some of these issues, and said as a result of changes they began implementing over two years ago, there was a “54% reduction in discourtesy complaints, a more than 40% reduction in excessive force complaints and a dramatic drop in lawsuits.”

TIME justice

Attorney General Loretta Lynch Meets with Freddie Gray Family

Attorney General Lynch speaks with congressmen and faith leaders after meeting in private with Freddie Gray's family at Baltimore University in Baltimore
Jose Luis Magana—Reuters Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks with congressmen and faith leaders after meeting in private with Freddie Gray's family at Baltimore University in Baltimore, MD. on May 5, 2015.

Just days after the city's prosecutor announced officers would face charges in Gray's death

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made a stop in Baltimore Tuesday, as tensions have begun to cool following a week of unrest and uncertainty.

Lynch, who is one week into her new role as the nation’s top prosecutor, met with community and faith leaders and politicians just days after the Baltimore City prosecutor announced charges against six Baltimore police officers in Freddie Gray’s death. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Elijah Cummings were reportedly in the room.

“This is a flashpoint situation,” Lynch said at the meeting. “We lost a young man’s [life] and it begins to represent so many things.”

The death of 25-year-old Gray, who died due to injuries he sustained while in police custody, was the match that lit the proverbial flame in Charm City, leading to days of protest that at one point turned violent. Lynch met with the family of Gray around noon on Tuesday. The meeting was closed off to press. Later in the afternoon, Lynch is expected to meet with Baltimore police and the mayor.

The new Attorney General is following in the footsteps of the now-retired Eric Holder in her visit to a city where a young black man’s death shined new light on mistrust between the community and police. Following the death of Michael Brown in Missouri, Holder traveled to Ferguson to meet with local leaders.

TIME Crime

How the Feds Went Soft on Baltimore

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts MARSHALL PROJECT
Alex Brandon—AP Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Anthony Batts surveys the corner of North and Pennsylvania avenues during protests in the city on April 30, 2015.

The city's involvement in a Justice Department program shows the softer side of intervention

This story was written by Simone Weichselbaum for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for their newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.

Six months before Baltimore exploded in anger at the city’s police, Justice Department officials were already busy examining the record of brutality and misconduct that had plagued the force for years.

But unlike other cities that have come under investigation by the department’s Civil Rights Division after complaints of excessive force, Baltimore, found its way into a less-onerous and adversarial Justice program that emphasizes cooperative support for local law-enforcement agencies. In fact, Baltimore requested the intervention.

That Justice program, called the Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, was created in 2011 by the department’s Office of Community Oriented Police Services, or COPS. Compared to the avenging lawyers of the Civil Rights Division, the program’s consultants might be considered the good cops.

Where the Civil Rights Division is known for filing lawsuits in the federal courts to compel recalcitrant police agencies to stop discriminatory practices or the excessive use of force, the COPS plan offers expertise and training to help change-minded police departments implement new policies on their own.

“There are 18,000 police departments in this country, and the idea that we can sue our way into reform, or put every police department under a consent decree, is just not viable,” the director of the COPS office, Ronald L. Davis, said in a telephone interview with The Marshall Project.

(On Friday, Baltimore’s chief prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced she had filed criminal charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who was arrested on April 12 for allegedly carrying a switchblade knife and died a week later from injuries he suffered while in custody.

The Baltimore police chief, Anthony W. Batts, had known Davis for years when he telephoned him last fall to ask for the COPS program’s help. The call came just days after the Baltimore Sun reported that the city had paid out $5.7 million in court judgments and settlements to resolve more than 100 police misconduct lawsuits since 2011.

Before taking over the Baltimore department in 2012, Batts had been the police chief in Oakland, Calif. At the time, Davis – a 19-year veteran of the Oakland force – was leading the police department in East Palo Alto, a small city 31 miles across the San Francisco Bay.

Davis said he had only a professional relationship with Batts, but knew his work as a chief in Baltimore, Oakland and Long Beach, Calif. Davis also emphasized that while the Collaborative Reform program necessarily gives priority to police agencies that are eager to change, it does not offer them an end-run around the Civil Rights Division.

In Baltimore’s case, Davis said, he consulted with officials of the division’s Special Litigation section to make sure they had not begun a preliminary investigation into a “pattern or practice” of discriminatory policing there. He added that the Civil Rights Division can also step in later, if a police force fails to make good on its promises to make changes in the collaborative program.

“The COPS office is not an investigatory body,” he said. “If we don’t see the same earnest effort that you committed to, we will cease and desist our program and turn everything we have over to Civil Rights.”

Batts and the Baltimore mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, announced within days of the Sun article that they, too, had sought the Justice Department’s intervention, and they issued a 41-page reform plan that they described as a set of parameters for change. The steps in that plan included increasing accountability for rogue officers, tracking misconduct more closely, and possibly providing body cameras to record officers’ actions.

But some local officials remained unconvinced. The City Council president, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, had written to then-Attorney General Eric Holder on Oct. 1 requesting “a full review of the Baltimore City Police Department’s policies, procedures and practices.” Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young, said the councilman had specifically sought the involvement of the Civil Rights Division and would submit a new request to Holder’s successor, Loretta Lynch.

Officials of the Civil Rights Division said in recent interviews with The Marshall Project that while they have stepped up their enforcement efforts in recent years, they continue to struggle with the limitations of a Special Litigation staff of only about 50 attorneys, some of whom work on issues other than police accountability.

“Would the Civil Rights Division and the country benefit from having more people to focus in on these issues? Absolutely,” the acting assistant attorney general who heads the division, Vanita Gupta, said in an interview. “I would be an idiot to say that I don’t want more people.”

The Collaborate Reform Initiative represents what is effectively a second track on which the Justice Department can push for change with local law-enforcement agencies. But — particularly in cases like that of Baltimore, in which a force might be looking for some relief from public criticism — it requires careful vetting, current and former department officials said.

“The COPS program doesn’t have any enforcement authority,” noted William Yeomans, a former Civil Rights Division official. “So the department has to conclude that here is a police department that can take voluntary measures to improve itself. You have to have confidence in the leadership of the police department.”

Another former Justice Department official, Robert Driscoll, who served in the George W. Bush administration, said he was suspicious of how the Obama administration had decided on the less-invasive option for Baltimore, a city governed by Democrats.

“That is a nice way out of a difficult problem, when people say, `What are you going to do in response to the Baltimore Sun article?’” he said. “The difficulty of the way this is being handled is figuring out who gets the COPS approach and who gets a full-blown (Civil Rights Division) investigation.”

Baltimore is one of eight cities that have been or are being “assessed” – not investigated – by the Collaborative Reform Initiative. In Las Vegas and Philadelphia, teams of federally funded consultants have recommended dozens of reforms in such areas as use of force guidelines, internal investigations, firearms training and the recording of witnesses to shootings by the police.

“It is really an alternative,” a Justice spokesman, Kevin Lewis, said. “Before it gets to a place that it is so escalated that you need a pattern and practice (lawsuit), what the Department of Justice is doing is providing an option.”

But the department’s softer side is not always welcomed, either.

After a series of police shootings in Las Vegas, the ACLU of Nevada requested an investigation by the Civil Rights Division. When the Justice Department decided it would use the COPS program instead, ACLU lawyers wrote to the Justice Department expressing dismay. “We were very apprehensive,” said Tod Story, ACLU of Nevada’s executive director. “We thought what was happening here was worthy of a full-scale civil rights investigation.”

Ronald Davis, the COPS director, said he had no illusions about the extent of the challenges that police reformers faced in Baltimore.

“The powder keg that exploded in Baltimore has been simmering for generations,” he said. “And the idea that us starting an assessment in October somehow would have stopped that – I think I would disagree with.”

TIME justice

This Facebook Post About Baltimore Cost a Prosecutor Her Job

Facebook Removes Feeling Fat
Bloomberg via Getty Images The Facebook Inc. logo is seen on an Apple Inc. iPhone in London, U.K., on May 14, 2012.

“Solution. Simple. Shoot em. Period. End of discussion."

A woman in Michigan has lost her job after posting a note on Facebook that called for violent protesters to be shot.

Teana Walsh, an assistant prosecutor with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, resigned on Friday, the Detroit News reports.

On Wednesday, her Facebook account included a post that has since been taken down about the violence rocking Baltimore:

“Solution. Simple. Shoot em. Period. End of discussion. I don’t care what causes the protestors to turn violent…what the ‘they did it because’ reason is…no way is this acceptable. Flipping disgusting.”

Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller said the post did not reflect her colleague’s true character. “During her tenure in the office, Teana Walsh has been known for her great work ethic and her compassion for victims of crime and their families,” she said. “Her post was up online briefly and she immediately took it down. The post was completely out of character for her and certainly does not reflect the person that we know.”

Walsh was not the only public official to find herself in hot water as a result of an insensitive post on social media. On Thursday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson told reporters that the director of a city community relations board, Blaine Griffin, had been reprimanded after the board’s twitter account asked if the city should be “burned down like” Baltimore.

[Detroit News]

TIME millenials

Poll: Millennials Distrust Justice System, Soften on Democrats

Youth still favor Democrats, Clinton, but margins tighten

Nearly half of young American voters do not have confidence in the justice system, according to a new Harvard survey of millennials.

The poll of 18-29 year olds released Wednesday by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) found an even 49%-49% split among the age group on the question of the system’s “ability to fairly judge people without bias for race and ethnicity.” The nationwide #BlackLivesMatter movement finds broad support among millennials, but less so among white 18-29 year olds, of whom only 37% support the demonstrations. Less than a majority believe the protests will result in effective change to policing practices.

Millennial voters overwhelmingly support efforts to require police officers to wear body cameras to record interactions with their communities, while 60% support policies to require police departments to demographically reflect the neighborhoods they serve. But the age group is split 49%-49% on whether eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses would make the system fairer.

Despite growing up in an age of two wars, 57% of 18-29 year olds would support deploying ground troops to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). The poll also found a significant bump in favor of American interventionism among the age group, though a majority still believe that the UN and other countries should take the lead in handling international crises.

Young Americans remain a solidly Democratic constituency, but by smaller margins than previous cycles. The poll found that 55% of the age group would prefer a Democrat to win the White House next year, with 40% supporting a Republican for the post. The gap between the parties is significantly smaller than President Barack Obama’s 2012 margin with the same cohort of 60% to 37%.

In the primaries, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds an overwhelming lead with the age group, while millennials are widely split on the Republican side, with Ben Carson leading with 10%, followed by Sen. Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Obama’s approval rating among the age group jumped 7 points from October, to his highest approval rating since 2013.

While trust in government institutions has declined since 2010, millennial trust of the military, the Supreme Court, the president, the UN, the federal government, and Congress all increased from 2014 by a significant margin—with the military the only entity with a rating above 50%.

The web-based poll of 3,034 18-29 year olds was conducted by the IOP and KnowledgePanel from March 18 through April 1 and has a margin of error of ±2.4 percentage points.

TIME justice

Baltimore Picks Up Pieces, Wary of Another Night of Violence

After a night of violence, a city tries to turn the page

At the corner of North and Pennsylvania Avenues in West Baltimore, volunteers carried blackened shelves out of the scorched CVS pharmacy. Kids wearing surgical masks against acrid fumes loaded bags of trash into the bed of a truck. Motorcyclists in leather vests patrolled the crowd for signs of unrest. Students in college sweatshirts and peacekeepers in matching black tees linked arms to form a human chain separating the cops from the furious community they are paid to protect.

The scene in Baltimore on Tuesday might seem surreal if it weren’t sadly familiar by now. The riots that broke out here Monday torched buildings and stores, injured at least 20 officers and left a stricken community without faith in police or politicians searching for ways to channel the chaos into change. As night fell, the city braced for a return of violence, with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan overseeing a deployment of 2,000 National Guard troops and 1,000 more police to protect the city.

A Baltimore-wide curfew went into effect at 10 p.m., until 5 a.m., but groups of people around the city were still seen in the streets near lines of officers. Just before midnight, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told reporters that only 10 arrests had been made. “The curfew is, in fact, working,” he said. “The city is stable.”

The death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died this month of severe injuries incurred while in police custody, may have been the spark that set this city ablaze. But the kindling has been piling up for decades, a combustible combination of crushing poverty, joblessness, segregation, poor schools and a police department with an ugly record of abuses. Baltimore, residents say, was ready to burn.

“We’ve reached a boiling point,” says Michael Coleman, 38, a leader of the Baltimore social-justice organization United Workers. “This isn’t the first case of police brutality, abuse or murder. It’s systematic.”

MORE: Baltimore Mayor Defends Handling of Riots

The list of grievances runs long in this stretch of West Baltimore, where groups of youths linger on corners and the gritty commercial strips are a blur of chop shops, check-cashing stores, beauty salons and carryout joints. Unlike in Ferguson, Mo., or New York City, where communities made martyrs last year of unarmed black men who died at the hands of police, Gray’s name was on few people’s lips. The unrest, people conceded, bore little connection to the man whose death catalyzed it.

“Behind your actions, you have to have something to say,” says Destiny Morning, 20. “It started off with a good message: justice.” But the Walmart employee—who said she wanted “a real protest, not riots”—saw the cause sidetracked by senseless destruction. Instead of mourning Gray or campaigning to reform police practices, a band of high-school kids threw bricks and snapped selfies in front of smoldering squad cars—macabre trophies in a city whose absence of hope or jobs can make kids feel like revenge is reward enough.

The causes of the unrest are similar in many ways to the structural problems afflicting hollowed-out communities around the country. But Baltimore, local residents say, is just a little different—grittier and angrier, a major city fierce with pride but plagued by gangs and largely bereft of opportunity for the impoverished. “Baltimore is a victim of its own insecurity,” says Gerard King, a 25-year-old hip hop artist. “This is something poverty breeds, specifically in men. Nothing makes you feel like a man more than being able to make a living.”

Even many people who condemned aspects of the rioting said they understood it on some levels as an expression of rage and hopelessness at an unequal society. “Some of it is necessary,” argues Michael Battle, 17, who said he supported the looting of stores but did not condone violence or setting fires. “It sends a bigger message.”

MORE: Baltimore Mom Explains Why She Smacked Son at Riot

As residents braced for another night of chaos, community leaders sought to impart a sense of purpose and peace. With public schools closed, kids packed a community room at Empowerment Temple Church in the city’s Park Heights neighborhood. Hunched at plastic tables spread across yellow-and-green floors, they listened to a series of speakers and ate a pizza lunch donated by locals. “They riot with no purpose because we give them no purpose,” says Anthony Reliford, a minister at the church. “Everything has been set back another 10, 15, 20 years – in one moment.”

When you don’t trust the city’s institutions to govern you, you have to govern yourselves. For much of Tuesday, the emotional crowds seemed to be winning that battle. Locals said cleanup crews were on site at the epicenter of the rioting early Tuesday morning. By the afternoon a crowd of hundreds flooded the intersection under sunny skies, singing, praying, yelling, kibitzing—waiting for the mayhem to erupt again, as everyone expected.

Sure enough, scattered tumult erupted early, in the form of a fistfight and a few water bottles tossed at police. But the cops, aided by the crowd, stamped it out quickly. “It contradicts all the good we’re trying to accomplish here,” says Robert Baker, 45, president of the Baltimore chapter of the Ruff Ryders motorcycle club, and part of a motley array of groups that assigned itself peacekeeping duties.

Shaking his head, Baker wandered off into the crowd in search of partners. Nearby a group of teenagers stood on the corner in front of the burnt-out CVS. Propped next to the entrance was a hand-lettered sign that read: “It’s Your World.”

TIME Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s Conservatives Switch Sides in Gay Marriage Logic

Supreme Court Gay Marriage
Jose Luis Magana—AP Demonstrators stand in front of a rainbow flag of the Supreme Court in Washington on April 28, 2015.

Supreme Court justices met Tuesday for the second time in two years to debate the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. The case could lead to a decision that would outlaw the bans across the country this June

Should the Supreme Court take into account the opinions of the rest of the world when reading the Constitution? In the past, some conservative justices have argued it should not, but they seemed to take the opposite tack Tuesday when debating gay marriage.

“Do you know of any society, prior to the Netherlands in 2001, that permitted same-sex marriage?” Justice Antonin Scalia asked an attorney representing gay couples who wanted their marriages to be recognized. “You’re asking us to decide (whether to approve same-sex marriage) for this society when no other society until 2001 ever had it.”

Jumping off that question, Justice Samuel Alito noted that even though there have been cultures that “did not frown on homosexuality” — such as ancient Greece — they did not recognize same-sex marriage either.

And Chief Justice John Roberts talked about how limiting marriage to a man and a woman was “a universal aspect of marriage around the world.”

The implication was clear: Other countries haven’t recognized same-sex marriage, therefore the United States doesn’t need to either.

In the past, Scalia in particular has taken a dim view of that same logic when applied to other topics. In 2005, Justice Anthony Kennedy cited international law in a majority opinion which held that imposing the death penalty on Americans under the age of 18 was a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

“The overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty is not controlling here, but provides respected and significant confirmation for the Court’s determination that the penalty is disproportionate punishment for offenders under 18,” he wrote in a footnote to Roper v. Simmons.

That inspired a sharp rebuke in a dissenting opinion from Scalia, who argued that the court should not “take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures.”

“I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment … should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners,” he wrote.

In politics, this kind of reversal is typically greeted with condemnation, catcalls of “flip flopping” and hypocrisy. But Eugene Volokh, a constitutional law professor at UCLA, said that it wouldn’t be fair to level the same accusations against the justices.

Oral arguments like Tuesday’s hearing are more freewheeling, he said. The justices aren’t necessarily laying out eternal principles as they are trying on different arguments for size, seeing what kind of reaction they got. Sometimes, like guests at a long-running dinner party, they’re just trying to needle each other or make something akin to an inside joke with each other.

Volokh noted that Kennedy, who is expected to be the swing vote in favor of gay marriage in this case, had cited a decision in the European Court of Human Rights and a committee report to the British Parliament in a 2003 decision overturning sodomy laws, a key precedent in this case.

“There might be a little bit of tweaking going on here,” he said. “In a way he’s saying, you were willing to look at international matters there, are you willing to look at them here now?”

There’s also a substantive case to be made. Conservative justices such as Scalia believe that the Constitution makes America unique and separates our legal traditions from the rest of the world, which means the opinions of other countries don’t matter when you’re interpreting, say, the Eighth Amendment, but they might matter if you were trying to show that there’s nothing prejudiced about banning gay marriage.

Still, the accusation of flip flops stings in politics for a reason. Supreme Court justices can argue for American exceptionalism one week and for following world opinion in another, but it won’t help them in the truly highest court in the land: the court of public opinion.

TIME justice

Evangelicals Divided as Supreme Court Considers Gay Marriage

Supreme Court Gay Marriage
Andrew Harnik—AP A rainbow colored flag flies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, April 27, 2015, as the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage on Tuesday.

A longtime opponent of same-sex marriage, Pastor Samuel Rodriguez gave a benediction at the last Republican National Convention, sits on the executive board of the National Association of Evangelicals and will host two likely presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee, at a gathering of 1,000 Hispanic leaders in Texas on Wednesday.

But if you ask the founder of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference how Republicans should react if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to legalize gay marriage nationwide this year, he doesn’t toe a very hard line. “The Republican position will not be, ‘We will fight arduously to turn back what the Supreme Court has ruled,’ ” he said. “I don’t think you will hear that at all, as a matter of fact.”

Some of Rodriguez’s fellow Republican and social conservative leaders agree, but not all. In fact, it’s hard to find a single strategic plan for opponents of same-sex marriage, many of whom plan to gather Tuesday at the Supreme Court, where the justices will meet for the second time in two years to debate the constitutionality of gay and lesbian marriage bans. The case could lead to a decision that would outlaw same-sex marriage bans this June.

Tony Perkins, the head of the conservative Family Research Council, says that if the court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, the proper strategy is to mount a campaign against judicial overreach modeled after the pro-life campaign against the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which found women had a constitutional right to an abortion. Decades after the decision, opponents of abortion continue to make legislative gains in statehouses across the country. “That issue is far from resolved and this will continue to be an issue in the political world from presidential races all the way down,” Perkins says.

Others like Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, say that the right move is to elevate the issue of marriage in the coming Republican primary contest. “From our view a bad decision will only reinforce how important it is to elect candidates who are going to be wise in appointing judges and justices,” Moore told TIME. “I don’t think a candidate who supports gay marriage could be nominated by the Republican Party right now.”

There is a third group of Christian leaders that have been encouraging even more drastic action: An effort by governors and legislatures to resist a Supreme Court ruling that strikes down bans on same-sex marriage. “Lincoln did not enforce Dred Scott decision,” Huckabee wrote in a recent email distributed by evangelical activist David Lane, referencing a court decision on slavery that helped spark the Civil War. “[A]nd there are several cases where Presidents (Jefferson and Jackson for example, which must be a challenge to Dems who celebrate Jefferson/Jackson Dinners) determined that the courts were wrong and refused to surrender to one of the three branches of government.”

“I’m stunned at the sitting Senators and Governors (Republican no less) who act as if when the SCOTUS rules, it’s forever settled,” Huckabee continued, using an acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States. “The 3 branches are EQUAL. The judicial cannot make nor enforce law.”

Read more: New Strategy Against Gay Marriage Divides 2016 Field

Those views could make for some interesting conversation among participants at Rodriguez’s conference this week. For Rodriguez, who has also been focused on issues like prison and immigration reform, the best strategy forward is to move away from the court’s decision and to start working to protect religious people and institutions who will continue to define marriage as between a man and a woman. “The major pivot will be social conservatives will say, ‘The future of American Christianity is at stake,’” Rodriguez said. “We have been labeled as bigots and homophobes when we are not, and oh boy, this election is about religious liberty and the future of American Christianity.”

But that vision assumes social conservatives speak with one voice, an outcome that is far from certain on the eve of Supreme Court arguments.

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