The week at a glance...United States

United States

Morgan Hill, Calif.

Flag T-shirt ruling: An appeals court dismayed conservatives and free speech advocates last week when it ruled that a California school acted properly in barring students from wearing American flag T-shirts on the Mexican-American holiday Cinco de Mayo. The case dates back to May 5, 2010, when the principal of Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill told students wearing the T-shirts to turn them inside out or take them off. A panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the school’s decision was correct given the “ongoing racial tension and gang violence within the school,” and that school officials had “presciently avoided an altercation.” William Becker, a lawyer for one of the students, lambasted the decision, saying it “upheld the rights of Mexican students celebrating a holiday of another country over U.S. students proudly supporting this country.” He said he would seek a rehearing of the case.


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Primary results: Establishment Republicans dealt a blow to some of their Tea Party challengers in a series of Texan primaries this week. Sen. John Cornyn routed right-wing fringe candidate Steve Stockman, a Texas representative whose campaign bumper stickers read, “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted,” while Rep. Pete Sessions defeated challenger Katrina Pierson, winning more than two thirds of the vote. But the Tea Party did score some state victories, with incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst—who was knocked out of the 2012 Senate race by Ted Cruz—forced into a May runoff by conservative talk show host Dan Patrick. In another race, George P. Bush, the 37-year-old nephew of former President George W. Bush and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, won his debut election for land commissioner. Gubernatorial candidates Wendy Davis, a Democrat, and Republican Greg Abbott easily won their primaries, setting up a November face-off.


Gay marriage: Democratic Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear this week said that he would hire outside attorneys to defend the state’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages, after the state attorney general refused to do so. Attorney General Jack Conway said he wouldn’t appeal a federal judge’s February decision to overturn Kentucky’s voter-imposed ban on recognizing the unions. “I would be defending discrimination,” he said. “That I will not do.” After opponents of same-sex marriage accused Conway of “spiking the case,” Beshear said he had acted so that the Supreme Court would ultimately decide the issue. Plaintiff Michael Deleon, who married Gregory Bourke in Canada, said he was “dumbfounded” by Beshear’s decision.

Washington, D.C.

Unlawful executions?: The Supreme Court this week implied that Florida was unconstitutionally executing “mentally retarded” inmates through its use of a controversial IQ test. The state currently uses a rigid IQ standard of 71 to determine whether a death row inmate is eligible for execution. Lawyers for death row inmate Freddie Lee Hall, who was convicted of beating, raping, and killing a 21-year-old pregnant newlywed in 1978 and has an IQ score of 71, told the court that Florida’s criterion fails to take into account the margin of error endemic in all IQ testing, and excludes other assessments that found Hall to be “mentally retarded” since childhood. Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared to agree, accusing Florida of failing “to follow the standards that are set by the people that designed and administer and interpret the tests.” A ruling is expected by June.

Morristown, N.J.

Daughter loses against parents: A New Jersey judge refused this week to order a couple sued by their estranged teen daughter to give her $650 week in expenses and pay her private high school tuition. Rachel Canning, 18, claims her parents kicked her out of their house and then refused to pay for her Morris Catholic High School education after they demanded she stop seeing her boyfriend. But Sean and Elizabeth Canning say Rachel left voluntarily after refusing to follow their house rules concerning curfew and chores. The student and her parents met in court this week for the first time in five months, days after Rachel filed a lawsuit for expenses, private school fees, and future college tuition. The family court judge denied the girl’s initial request for support, but will rule on the lawsuit after a second hearing in April.

New York City

Terror trial: Jury selection began this week in the terrorism trial of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, the highest-ranking al Qaida figure to face trial on U.S. soil since the 9/11 attacks. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was captured in Jordan last year and flown to New York City, where he faces federal charges of conspiring to kill Americans and supporting terrorists in his role as al Qaida’s spokesman. Government prosecutors reportedly intend to open the trial by showing jurors a picture of Abu Ghaith with bin Laden on Sept. 12, 2001, as well as videos of subsequent speeches promising more attacks on the U.S. “The Americans must know that the storm of airplanes will not stop, God willing, and there are thousands of young people who are as keen about death as Americans are about life,” Abu Ghaith said in an October 2001 speech.

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