TPM News

A federal judge ruled today that part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

Judge Joseph Tauro, of U.S. District Court in Boston, issued rulings on two separate cases today.

"This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the Commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights, and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status," Tauro wrote in the decision for Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has a new TV ad attacking his Republican opponent, former state Rep. Sharron Angle, for allegedly not caring about people's jobs.

The ad features a construction worker in an American flag-themed hardhat, decrying Angle's past laissez-faire statements that creating jobs would not be her job as a U.S. Senator. "Not her job?" the man asks. "To me, it seems like the only job Sharron Angle wants to fight for is hers."

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Angle a lead of 46.0%-40.8%.

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Leaders of yet another anti-domestic violence advocacy group come forward to say that they personally worked with Brent Furer on women's issues, the former aide for Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) who was known for two years to have attacked a girlfriend with a knife.

"We know first-hand that Brent Furer, a perpetrator of domestic violence, worked on women's issues in Senator Vitter's office," reads a statement from Sue Else, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. "Even if Furer didn't work on women's issues, he should have been fired for violently attacking an intimate partner. Senator Vitter should have fired Furer when he first learned about the case.

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A judge has ordered that the Apache County Attorney's Office in Arizona be stripped of its prosecution powers, after one of its criminal investigators allegedly pressured a murder suspect to plead guilty, implying if he didn't he would face the death penalty.

The investigator was former county sheriff Brian Hounshell, who had earlier been stripped of his sheriff duties after he was convicted of felony theft in a corruption case.

If they're not careful, Arizona sheriffs might start to get a bad name...

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The NRSC is firing back at Harry Reid's reposting of Sharron Angle's old website -- by posting a fake Harry Reid website as a parody.

After she won the Republican primary a month ago, Angle's campaign took down most of its website, and later replaced it with a relaunched version that toned down her right-wing positions. But the Reid campaign saved the old version, and put up a website called "The Real Sharron Angle," reproducing the old content. Then last Friday, the Angle campaign sent them a cease-and-desist letter, alleging violation of copyrights and that the site was Angle's intellectual property. In response, the Reid campaign briefly took down the site -- then made some slight modifications, and put it right back up again. And in response, Angle is still threatening legal action.

Now the NRSC has come out with "The Real Harry Reid," taking the current layout and overall look of Reid's website, but with headlines about high unemployment and the national debt.

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West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw (D) has issued a legal opinion saying that there can be a special election this year for the Senate seat formerly held by the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd. This decision will likely set the process in motion for an election, with the possibility of an interim appointment made by Dem Gov. Joe Manchin -- who would also be the Democrats' strongest possible candidate.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) announced last week that there would not be an election, but instead a gubernatorial appointment to last through November 2012, when the term would have been up anyway. This result struck many people as odd or counter-democratic, but was actually the product of the state's very confusing statute on the subject, and in fact had a binding legal precedent from the 1990s.

However, Tennant herself stated her disagreement with this outcome, and Manchin sought the legal opinion from McGraw on the subject, with Manchin also preferring to hold an election this year and to potentially change the law if necessary. Manchin has categorically ruled out appointing himself, but with this ruling he could potentially appoint another person and then run for the election this November.

At a press conference announcing his recommendation of Gen. Jim Mattis to lead U.S. Central Command today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates addressed the memo he recently issued regarding the military's interactions with the media.

The memo, issued last Friday, requires top level military personnel to notify the public affairs office before interviews "with possible national or international implications." It was issued in the wake of a Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, in which the general and his aides publicly trashed members of the Obama administration. McChrystal has since been relieved of his command.

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Can you guess why eight Republican senators -- including one who backed her for solicitor general -- are opposing Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court? In the year of the tea party, it's perhaps not so hard to figure out. Most of them are facing, have faced or might eventually face voters who think that they aren't conservative enough.

Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and James Inhofe (R-OK), both of whom announced their opposition already, were probably always going to vote against Kagan anyway. But the other senators who have made their disapproval public have, at times, been considered of a more moderate persuasion. Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John McCain (R-AZ), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have something in common besides their already announced "No" votes on Kagan -- political targets on their back.

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In an interview on Israeli TV, President Obama said that his middle name -- "Hussein" -- was one cause of distrust that some Israelis feel toward him.

"Some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion," the president said.

On the other hand, he also pointed out, his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's middle name is "Israel."

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