TIME Courts

Kentucky Judge Rejects State’s Gay Marriage Ban

The judge put the ruling on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court considers a similar challenge

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) — A Kentucky judge has ruled in favor of two same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses but put the ruling on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court considers a similar challenge to gay marriage bans.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate on Thursday ruled that Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional right to equal protection.

Oral arguments on challenges to gay marriage bans in Kentucky and three other states are scheduled before the Supreme Court on April 28.

A federal district judge in Louisville struck down the state’s gay marriage ban last year. His ruling was overturned by a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, paving the way for the Supreme Court appeal.

The case before Wingate involved two Lexington couples who were denied marriage licenses by the Fayette County clerk in 2013.

TIME Media

ESPN Suspends Reporter Britt McHenry Over Leaked Parking Lot Video

Britt McHenry, a Washington D.C.-based bureau reporter for ESPN, has been suspended one week by the network following the release of a video tape on Thursday in which she is seen berating a towing company worker. “I’m in the news, sweetheart,” says McHenry on the video. “I will f—— sue this place.”

In what appears to be an edited tape, the woman at the towing establishment then threatens to play the video of the interaction. McHenry is shown on the tape responding.

“I wouldn’t work in a scumbag place like this,” she says. “That’s all you care about, taking people’s money. With no education, no skill set, just wanted to clarify that. Do you feel good about your job?… So I can be a college dropout and do the same thing?… Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh?… I’m in television and you’re in a f—— trailer, honey.”

The video ends with McHenry telling the attendant to, “Lose some weight, baby girl.”

As of this writing, McHenry has not responded to an email from SI.com but did release a statement on Twitter:

“In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things,” McHenry said. “As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.”

The Busted Coverage website identified the worker as Gina Michelle and posted a piece on her here.

Prior to joining ESPN in 2014, McHenry worked as a sports reporter in Washington, D.C., at ABC7/WJLA-TV and at News Channel 8. She began her career in Washington as a community reporter and weekend morning-show anchor. McHenry earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and holds a bachelor’s degree from Stetson University, where she was a member of the school’s soccer team.

At the time of McHenry’s hiring, ESPN senior vice president and director of news Vince Doria praised her newsgathering abilities.

“In a relatively short time, Britt has established a reputation for strong, aggressive reporting in the D.C. area, and an ability to land big interviews,” said Doria. “Her presence there will be a great benefit to ESPN’s newsgathering, and, as with all of our bureau reporters, she will be assigned to high-profile stories around the country.”

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

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TIME Courts

Jameis Winston’s Sex Assault Accuser Files Lawsuit

Rose Bowl - Oregon v Florida State
Jeff Gross—Getty Images Quarterback Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles reacts after losing 59-20 to the Oregon Ducks at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in California.

Lawsuit stems form alleged assault in late 2012

The woman who accused former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexual assault in December 2012 has filed a lawsuit against Winston, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

According to the Times, the lawsuit is over claims of sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment and “intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of forcible rape.” It was filed Thursday in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial District.

The accusers’s attorney provided a statement to the Times, calling Winston “an entitled athlete who believes he can take what he wants.” From the statement:

“Over the past two years, this survivor of sexual violence has had to endure a delinquent police investigation, a hostile FSU athletic department, and Mr. Winston’s bullying lawyer. But the more these forces sought to silence her, the more determined she has become to step forward and hold Jameis Winston accountable for his actions. With the support of her family, she is prepared for this fight and for the counterclaims and the smear campaigns that will surely follow.”

The accuser previously filed a federal civil lawsuit against Florida State university trustees in January.

Winston was accused of sexual assault in December 2012. No charges were filed, but in November 2013, the state’s attorney announced that it was opening an investigation into the accusation. The investigation was completed a month later, and again no charges were filed.

The quarterback faced a Student Code of Conduct case at FSU in December to determine if he violated up to four school student conduct codes. Winston was cleared by an arbitrator after a two-day hearing, which included Winston reading a five-page statement denying the allegations against him. It was the first time he publicly gave his side of the story regarding the allegations.

In October, a Fox Sports report based on its own investigation of the case alleged that FSU administrators and Tallahassee police took steps to “hide and then hinder” the Winston investigation.

The accuser discusses her allegations against Winston in The Hunting Ground, a documentary that premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival.

Winston could be drafted No. 1 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the upcoming NFL draft, which begins on April 30.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Crime

Copter Pilot to Be Charged With Violating Restricted Airspace

Gyrocopter lands at US Capitol
Bill Clark—AP A man was arrested after landing a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on April 15, 2015.

Douglas Hughes flew an aircraft onto the U.S. Capitol lawn on Wednesday

Douglas Hughes, the pilot who flew an aircraft onto the U.S. Capitol lawn, will be charged with operating an unregistered aircraft and violating restricted airspace, federal authorities said Thursday.

The first charge carries up to three years in prison, the second charge up to one year. Hughes was released on bond and ordered back to court May 8.

Hughes, a mail carrier who wanted to protest money in politics, flew the aircraft, an open-cockpit contraption known as a gyro-copter, onto the West Lawn of the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Tennessee

Push to Make the Bible Tennessee’s Official Book Derailed Amid Legal Questions

But it may not be the last we've heard of the Bible as a state book

Legislation to make the Bible the official state book of Tennessee was beaten back by the state Senate on Thursday, but even if the measure had become law, it would have been on constitutionally shaky ground, legal experts said.

The state Senate voted to “refer” a bill passed by the state House back to a legislative committee because of questions over its constitutionality, and Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Haslam has also criticized the bill.

Even though the Tennessee measure appears to be scuttled for now, this may not be the last the country sees such laws floated. On the heels of a quickly withdrawn attempt last year to make the Bible the official state book of Louisiana, a similar bill was introduced earlier this year in Mississippi. It fizzled in committee, but state Representative Tom Miles, a Democrat, said he plans to introduce it again next session. “We feel like if it would have hit the floor, we had the votes,” he told TIME.

As these states weigh measures on the Bible—and as religious exemption laws sparked concerns in Indiana and other states over potential discrimination against gays—the question of how much states can wade into issues of religious freedom is coming to the forefront. In some cases, proposed laws are clashing with the Constitution, experts said.

The Tennessee bill likely violates not just the state’s constitution—as a prohibited endorsement of religion by the government—but also the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on laws “respecting the establishment of religion,” legal scholars said.

To test whether a law violates this clause in the Constitution, judges look to whether it’s an “endorsement” of a particular religion, or whether it is fundamentally secular, said Suzanna Sherry, a law professor at Vanderbilt University. For example, it’s easier to defend the inclusion of “under God” in the pledge of allegiance in schools because of the phrase’s history, but it could be more difficult to defend a law that a state adopts amid controversy.

Robert Blitt, a law professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, said choosing an official state book is such a clear endorsement of religion that it would be hard for a state to defend. “I don’t think one could make a distinction that this is about invoking a generic god or having a national prayer breakfast. I think there is something substantively different making the Bible the official book of the state. Are they going to be printing copies of the official state book? Hosting the state book on government websites? That gets into entanglements that are problematic.”

But as a practical matter, a case against the Bible as a state book might be surprisingly difficult to win.

The issue is that anyone who wants to challenge the constitutionality of a law must show that they were harmed by it, and there is a question of who specifically would be harmed by the Bible becoming a state book. It’s easier to challenge laws that subsidize religion, as well as public religious displays like a nativity scene, because they clearly affect individuals.

No matter what happens to the Tennessee bill, its success in the state’s House has given legislators who support these bills, like Miles in Mississippi, something to celebrate. “I’m proud they were able to get a vote for it, because I think that’s great impact,” he said.

TIME Hillary Clinton

How Barack Obama’s Trade Deal Puts Hillary Clinton in a Bind

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with local residents at the Jones St. Java House in LeClaire, Iowa on April 14, 2015.
Charlie Neibergall—AP Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with local residents at the Jones St. Java House in LeClaire, Iowa on April 14, 2015.

Sen. Marco Rubio is rarely on the same side as President Obama. But the Florida Republican, who is running for president in 2016, recently drafted a letter to the White House in support of Obama’s signature free-trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Congress is expected to vote on this term.

This odd-bedfellows moment backs Hillary Clinton, who announced this week that she is running for President, into a particularly uncomfortable corner — sandwiched between Republicans and centrist Democrats on one side, and the Democrats’ liberal, activist base on the other.

So far, Clinton has kept quiet about whether she supports the deal.

Most Republicans, the Obama administration and a powerful coalition of business interests, some of whom have donated to Clinton’s campaign, would like to see the former Secretary of State champion the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They argue that the sweeping, 12-nation free trade pact, the largest-ever for the United States, would been a boon for the U.S. economy.

“We stand ready to work with you to ensure quick consideration and approval of legislation to renew TPA,” Rubio wrote in the draft letter to Obama, which was obtained by TIME, in reference to the Trade Promotion Authority, the so-called fast track bill designed to facilitate the passage of the trade deal. “We must work together to ensure that goods and services created by U.S. workers are able to enter and effectively compete in overseas markets.” Rubio’s office declined to comment on the letter.

Meantime, an increasingly vociferous coalition of liberal lawmakers, labor leaders and grassroots populists, whose support Clinton will need during the primary campaign, have warned Clinton that they deeply oppose the pact, which they describe as a job-killing sweetheart deal for global corporations.

“People feel a lot of urgency and tension around this moment,” said George Goehl, the executive director the the National People’s Action, a network of progressive, grassroots organizations nationwide, in a press call Thursday morning.

“This is not a theoretical question for [Clinton] to answer,” he added. “It’s real-life right now and people want to know where she stands.”

On Wednesday night, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a potential Democratic presidential candidate who has been one of the loudest voices in Congress in opposition to the deal, rallied members of the progressive organization, Democracy For America, against the bill during a conference call. “The only way a member pays the price [for supporting TPP] is if the poeple are educated and organized,” he said, adding later that “What we have got to do is rally the American people and educate them and put pressure on vulnerable members.

“Keep the emails coming, put the pressure on,” he urged.

Clinton’s silence about the Trans-Pacific Partnership has sent both supporters and critics into spirals of speculation.

In her most recent memoir, Hard Choices, published last year, Clinton expressed limited support for the deal. “It’s safe to say that the TPP won’t be perfect,” she wrote. “No deal negotiated among a dozen countries ever will be — but its higher standards, if implemented and enforced, should benefit American businesses and workers.”

But during her 2007 run for the White House, she explicitly distanced herself from the last big free trade deal, the North American Free Trade Agreement which her husband signed in 1994, and said she would not pursue any new trade deals for a while.

After supporting NAFTA as first lady and in her 2003 memoir, Living History, Clinton said in an interview with CNN in 2007 that it “was a mistake to the extent that it did not deliver on what we had hoped it would, and that’s why I call for a trade timeout.”

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a liberal Democrat who has been outspoken about his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, refused to speculate on Clinton’s position on trade. “I’m not going to go there. Hillary’s got a history. I’m pretty sure she was against fast track, against CAFTA. [She] spoke out in ’08 that we should renegotiate NAFTA,” he said Thursday. “So you make an assumption that Hillary is bad on trade but you would be wrong, I’d think.”

The Senate Finance Committee proposed a fast-track bill on Thursday afternoon that would give Obama the power to submit the trade pact to Congress for a simple up-or-down vote with no amendments. Supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership say such legislation is crucial as it assures other countries that Congress won’t significantly change the deal during debate.

Opponents, including Sens. Brown and Elizabeth Warren, have called the fast track undemocratic, in part because it makes it easier for negotiators and lobbyists to insert provisions into the trade deal that Congress would not approve individually.

The populist base has also railed against the non-transparent, and sometimes downright secretive, process surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation process. As of last fall, a network of 566 stakeholders, 85% of whom represented industry and trade groups, were given limited access to the draft trade agreement, according to the Washington Post. Although more stakeholders have since been invited to access the document through a secure website, the details of the agreement, which will include twelve nations in the Asia-Pacific region, have not been made public or provided to the press. Even lawmakers have not been given copies of the draft plan.

In the coming weeks, Clinton will be asked, probably repeatedly, to take a strong position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If she opposes it, she risks alienating a slew of powerful, corporate interests. But if she doesn’t, she risks the rage of the populist left. And if she does nothing, she’ll lose points with both sides and be criticized by pundits for ducking a major issue.

“It’s a choice between a corporate vision of a world economy and a vision in which … workers’ rights and sustainable development is allowed by the legal system,” Roger Hickey, the co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, said on a press call Thursday morning. “It’s a big issue.”

TIME Religion

Tennessee Plan to Make Bible State’s ‘Official’ Book Thrown Off Course

Some say the Bible is far too sacred to be deemed an "official state book"

A plan to make the Bible the official state book in Tennessee has been derailed and will almost certainly not be approved this year.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted Thursday to send the measure back to a committee that has been closed, effectively killing it.

The bill has divided Republicans in conservative Tennessee. Some say the Bible is far too sacred to be deemed an “official state book.” Conversely, others believe it’s an integral part of the state’s history. Constitutional questions have also been raised.

Despite those worries, the GOP-controlled House approved the bill on Wednesday.

Other opponents include Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and the Republican speakers of both chambers.

Similar proposals failed in Louisiana and Mississippi.

TIME Crime

Ohio Man Said to Train in Syria Charged With Plotting U.S. Attack

Authorities said he received training on breaking into houses

Federal charges have been filed against an Ohio man, accusing him of going to Syria to get terrorist training, then returning to the United States with the intention of killing police or soldiers.

Authorities accuse Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 23, of Columbus, of leaving the U.S. in April 2014 “for the purpose of training and fighting with terrorists in Syria.”

They say Mohamud, a naturalized citizen, got a passport and bought a one-way ticket to Greece. He did not take a connecting flight from Istanbul to Athens and instead “completed pre-arranged plans to travel to Syria,” they alleged.

Once there…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC news

TIME National Security

Helicopter That Landed at Capitol ‘Literally Flew in Under the Radar,’ Homeland Security Chief Says

Capitol Aircraft
Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP A member of a bomb squad checks a small helicopter after a man landed on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Police arrested a man who steered his tiny, one-person helicopter onto the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, astonishing spring tourists and prompting a temporary lockdown of the Capitol Visitor Center. Capitol Police didn't immediately identify the pilot or comment on his motive, but a Florida postal carrier named Doug Hughes took responsibility for the stunt on a website where he said he was delivering letters to all 535 members of Congress in order to draw attention to campaign finance corruption. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said it was too soon to say whether safety procedures should change

(WASHINGTON)—The gyrocopter that landed on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol “apparently literally flew in under the radar,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Thursday, as concerned lawmakers questioned how it was allowed to happen and why.

Johnson said it’s too soon to say whether Wednesday’s incident should prompt changes in security procedures. “I want to know all the facts before I reach an assessment of what can and should be done about gyrocopters in the future,” he said.

But lawmakers said the incident exposed a gap in security, especially amid revelations that the pilot, Florida postal worker Doug Hughes, was interviewed by the Secret Service almost two years ago. The agency apparently determined he did not pose a threat, said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Cummings spoke Thursday with the Secret Service director.

“I think that there’s absolutely a gap, and it’s a very dangerous gap, with regard to our airspace,” Cummings said. “I don’t want people to get a message that they can just land anywhere. Suppose there was a bomb or an explosive device on that air vehicle? That could have been a major catastrophe.”

Johnson said the Secret Service passed along the information from the interview with Hughes, who was to appear in court Thursday afternoon, to “all of the appropriate law enforcement agencies.”

The tiny, open-air aircraft landed without injuries to anyone, but the incident raises questions about how someone could be allowed to fly all the way from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, right up to the Capitol. Hughes has said he was making the flight to publicize his concerns about the corrupting influence of money in politics, and deliver letters to all 535 members of Congress on the topic.

“We are a democracy. We don’t have fences around our airspace, so we’ve got to find the right balance between living in a free and open society and security and the protection of federal buildings,” Johnson told reporters on Capitol Hill. “And so we want to stay one step ahead of every incident like this, but then again, you don’t want to overreact, either.”

Still, lawmakers questioned why, if authorities had been in touch with Hughes, no action was taken to stop him.

“My concerns are the prior notice that he was going to do this and the lack of response,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

“These small aircraft or UAV devices concern me because they could go undetected and cause damage, so that’s something we’re taking a look at,” McCaul said, adding he might hold hearings on the issue.

Cummings and others also complained that they were not notified of the incident and that many first learned of it from the news media.

Johnson defended existing protocols for dealing with the restricted airspace over Washington, D.C., federal buildings and monuments.

“We’ve got a well-coordinated federal response to dealing with issues of those who penetrate the restricted airspace without permission,” he said. He said his first reaction on hearing of the incident was to ask, “What’s a gyrocopter?”

TIME Crime

Judge Orders ‘Suge’ Knight to Stand Trial on Murder Charge

Marion Suge Knight
Irfan Khan—AP Former rap mogul Marion "Suge'' Knight appears in a Los Angeles court, April 8, 2015, on charges that he and comedian Micah "Katt" Williams stole a photographer's camera in Beverly Hills.

The co-founder of Death Row Records is charged in a hit-and-run

(LOS ANGELES)—A judge has ordered former rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight to stand trial on murder and attempted-murder charges in a deadly hit-and-run.

The co-founder of Death Row Records has been charged with intentionally killing 55-year-old Terry Carter and seriously injuring Cle “Bone” Sloan by striking them with his truck outside a Compton burger stand in late January.

Knight’s attorney has said his client was ambushed and was trying to flee an attack by Sloan when he hit the men.

Los Angeles Superior Court Ronald Coen made the ruling Thursday after prosecutors presented some of their evidence against the 49-year-old Knight.

Coen’s decision came after hearing testimony from Sloan, who told authorities he attacked Knight but said Monday that he didn’t remember the fight or being hit by Knight’s truck.

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