Affirmative ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions today, saying voters had a right in 2006 to prohibit state universities from using race as a factor in acceptance decisions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote an impassioned, 58-page dissent that was longer than the combined four opinions written by those who voted in the majority. Sotomayor said the court’s decision trampled the rights of minorities, even though Michigan voters adopted the law in a democratic process. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sided with Sotomayor. Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the 6-2 decision, presumably because she had worked on the case during her time at the Justice Department.
Under who? A New Jersey family is suing its local school district in a bid to have “under God”removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. The American Humanist Association filed the suit on the family’s behalf. The suit claims referencing God discriminates against atheists, humanists, and anyone else who doesn’t believe in the Divine. Although their children could just opt out of the pledge, the family claims doing so forces them to choose between being patriotic and being religious. Apparently the stigma of being unpatriotic is worse than the stigma of being irreligious. The phrase “under God” was not part of the original pledge, written in 1892, but was added in 1954.
Traditional marriage support. The Family Research Council released a survey today showing more than two-thirds of Republican voters still support traditional marriage, despite widespread claims that the national attitude toward same-sex marriage has become more accepting. According to the national survey, conducted by Wilson Research Strategies, 82 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed disagree that “politicians should support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.”
The Russian armed bandit? Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Kiev today to show support for the Ukrainian government. Biden told Russia it was time to put up or shut up—“stop talking and start acting,” in diplomatic speak—and pledged an additional $50 million from the United States to help Ukraine with political and economic reforms. Russian is widely thought to be encouraging pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country, who have occupied government buildings and are threatening to overthrow regional governments. Biden urged Russia to tell the separatists they need to address their grievances politically, and not militarily. Ukraine’s acting prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, was more blunt in his assessment, calling Russia an “armed bandit.” “Russia should stick to its international commitments and obligations,” he said. “They should not behave as gangsters in the modern century.”
Courthouse shooting. A U.S. marshal shot and killed a man on trial for assault, conspiracy, robbery, and weapons offenses after he lunged at a witness testifying against him. Siale Angilau, 25, was the last of 17 gang members to be tried in a case that started in 2010. The witness, who was not injured in the shooting, was testifying about gang initiation practices. Angilau rushed at him with a pen in a “threatening manner,” officials said. People present in the courtroom said the marshal fired at least six shots.