iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked same-sex marriages from going forward in Virginia, putting on hold a lower court ruling from last month that struck down the state’s strict ban on gay marriage.

The action by the high court means that gay marriages, which were set to begin Thursday, will not go forward while supporters of the state ban appeal the issue to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court acted on an application filed by Michele B. McQuigg, a state clerk who had petitioned for a stay pending appeal.

In an one-page order, with no noted dissents, the Supreme Court granted the request.

Here is the text of the order:

ORDER IN PENDING CASE 14A196 MCQUIGG, MICHELE V. BOSTIC, TIMOTHY B., ET AL. The application for stay presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is granted, and the issuance of the mandate of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in case No. 14-1167, is stayed pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court.

While Mark R. Herring, Virginia’s attorney general, has argued that the state ban is unconstitutional, he urged the Supreme Court to grant the stay. In court briefs, Herring said it was “painful to keep Virginia’s same-sex couples and their children waiting,” but that the “balance of hardships” favored a stay.

Herring expressed concern that if gay marriages were allowed to go forward and then the Supreme Court were to ultimately uphold Virginia’s ban, hundreds or thousands of marriages would be “rendered doubtful.”

“Not only might their marriages have to be unwound,” Herring argued, “but all of the legal relationships and transactions of third parties who pass through their orbit would have to be untangled.”

The court granted a similar request regarding Utah’s ban in January.

So far this year, two federal appeals courts have struck state bans on gay marriage.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Stewart F. House/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to two felony charges on which he was indicted relating to a 2013 veto threat.

Perry’s attorneys entered the not guilty plea Wednesday morning and waived his formal arraignment scheduled for Friday morning.

“The waiver of arraignment contains the plea of not guilty,” David Botsford, an attorney for Perry, said.

Perry turned himself in to authorities Tuesday at the Travis County Courthouse, getting his fingerprints taken and smiling for a mug shot.

The two felony counts — abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official — originate from Perry’s threat to veto $7.5 million in funding for Texas’ public integrity unit after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign following a 2013 DWI conviction.

Perry will travel to Washington, D.C., Thursday for a speech on the border crisis before heading to New Hampshire, where he has events scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Travis County Sheriff’s Office(AUSTIN, Texas) — Mobbed by cameras and supporters chanting “Perry, Perry, Perry,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry sidled up to a podium outside the courthouse before turning himself in late Tuesday following an indictment filed against him last week for two felony charges.

“I’m here today because I believe in the rule of law and I’m here today because I did the right thing. I’m going to enter this courthouse with my head held high, knowing that the actions that I took were not only lawful and legal but right,” Perry said to cheers outside the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in downtown Austin, Texas. ”And if I had to do so, I would veto funding for the public integrity unit again.”

“I’m going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being. And we will prevail. And we’ll prevail because we’re standing for the rule of law,” he added.

The Texas governor then proceeded inside the courthouse where he was set to be fingerprinted and have his mugshot taken. Perry stood in front of a light blue background as he had his mugshot taken. He took off his glasses and appeared to be smiling ever so slightly, with no teeth showing.

Following his booking, Perry spoke to reporters again, calling the indictment a “political act.”

“This indictment is fundamentally a political act that seeks to achieve in a courthouse what could not be achieved at the ballot box,” he said.

Perry’s booking comes just four days after he was first indicted on two felony counts – abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official. The charges originate from Perry threatening to veto $7.5 million in funding for the state’s public integrity unit unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned following a DWI conviction in 2013.

Perry’s arraignment is currently scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Friday, the same day he’s scheduled to appear in New Hampshire.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is taking a deeper look into the longstanding program which allows that Pentagon to transfer excess equipment and weapons to local police given the images coming from Ferguson, Missouri, in recent days.

During a Tuesday briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said that Hagel had “asked for some more information so that he can have a more informed opinion” about the program. Kirby also outlined the equipment the Ferguson Police Department has received since 2007 — including two Humvees, one generator and one cargo trailer. Other police departments in St. Louis County have received six pistols, 12 rifles, 15 weapon sights, an EOD robot, three helicopters, five Humvees and two night-vision devices.

While the Pentagon does hold spot checks to ensure local police departments keep proper inventory of the equipment received from the Pentagon, they “do not legislate, we don’t dictate, we don’t – we don’t mandate any kind of certain use,” Kirby said.

Still, Kirby noted, the Secretary of Defense has the power to rescind donations of equipment given to local police departments, and that not all requests are approved. “We don’t push equipment on anyone,” Kirby said, “There’s a lot of due diligence here. Just because they ask for a helicopter doesn’t mean they are going to get a helicopter.”

Kirby did note that the program also affects counterdrug and counterterrorism activities in a positive way. “Some of this equipment saves lives,” he noted, “Let’s be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A State Department spokeswoman pushed back against countries like Egypt, Iran and China that have chided U.S. law enforcement for its handling of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police shooting death of unarmed Michael Brown.

Marie Harf said such countries, which, at best, have mixed records on human rights and free speech, should avoid comparing themselves to the United States.

“We here in the United States will put our record for confronting our problems transparently and honestly and openly up against any other countries in the world,” Harf said. “When we have problems and issues in this country, we deal with them openly and honestly. We think that’s important, and I would encourage the countries you named particularly to do the same thing.”

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged authorities to use “restraint” against protesters, mimicking a similarly worded statement released by the White House in July 2013 when the United States advised Egypt to use discretion when dealing with supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Iran’s top religious figure, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, has posted frequently about Ferguson on his Twitter and Facebook pages in recent days, including a post Sunday that read, “You are not alone in your complaint against the oppressive govt of US; the US has oppressed many nations. #Ferguson.”

And China’s state-run newspaper Xinhua published an op-ed urging the United States to stop criticizing other nations, like China, for its human rights and free speech abuses.

“Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others,” it read.

Harf declined to address each country’s critique individually.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Attorney General Eric Holder will have company when he travels to Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday amid the ongoing clashes between protesters and police there following the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., will both join Holder in the St. Louis suburb, aides to both senators confirm.

President Obama is sending Holder to Ferguson to meet with FBI and Department of Justice officials working the case.

When asked by ABC News Radio’s White House correspondent Ann Compton why he doesn’t go to the city, Obama replied on Monday, “The DOJ works for me when they are doing an investigation and I got to make sure I don’t look like I’m putting thumb on the scales one way or the other.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A Pew research poll finds wide differences between black and white Americans over various aspects of the shooting of unarmed Ferguson, Missouri, teenager Michael Brown, who witnesses say was gunned down by a local cop.

Overall, 44 percent of the 1,000 respondents questioned say the case that has resulted in civil unrest in Ferguson raised important issues about race. Eighty percent of blacks concurred with that assessment, compared to 37 percent of whites.

Meanwhile, four in 10 of Pew respondents believe the incident is getting too much attention. Just 18 percent of blacks and 47 percent of whites agreed with that statement.

As for the police response to the protests over Brown’s death, blacks by a two-to-one margin over whites feel law enforcement has overreacted. Twenty percent of blacks and 32 percent of whites contend the police response has been justified.

Regarding the investigation into the shooting, 76 percent of blacks and a third of whites don’t have confidence in the probe up to now, while 52 percent of whites and 18 percent of blacks say they have either a great deal or fair amount of confidence.

Breaking it down by party lines, Republicans are more apt than Democrats to say the case has gotten too much attention and that the police response has been justified. GOP voters are also more confident in the investigation of the case than Democrats.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The public perception of the tension between police and residents in Ferguson, Mo. and shows a noticeable racial divide, according to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center.

The latest survey was conducted between August 14 and 17 and included 1,000 adults. Pew says that results showed that generally, adults are divided: 44 percent believe that the shooting of Michael Brown, “raises important issues about race that require discussion,” while 40 percent think that the issue of race, “is getting more attention than it deserves.”

However, those opinions show a clear racial divide as well. Among African-Americans, 80 percent say that the shooting raises important racial issues, compared to 18 percent who think otherwise. Among white Americans, only 47 percent believe the racial issues are important, compared to 37 percent who believe the topic of race is receiving more attention that it deserves.

Additionally, Pew’s survey results indicate that while 65 percent of African-Americans believe the police have “gone too far” in the aftermath of the shooting, whites are far more split. Among whites, 33 percent believe police have gone too far, while 32 percent say the police response “has been about right.”

The survey also indicated something of a political divide in terms of reaction to the ongoing tension. Among those respondents who self-identified as Republicans, just 22 percent believe that the shooting raises important racial issues, with 61 percent saying that the topic is getting too much attention. Among self-identified Democrats, 68 percent believe that there are important racial issues raised by the death of Michael Brown and just 21 percent believe that aspect of the nationwide conversation is getting too much attention.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Feng Li/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Hillary Clinton is going back to Iowa for the first time in six years.

The former secretary of state will headline Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry in Indianola next month, making her first visit to the state since 2008.

Bill and Hillary Clinton will be on hand for Harkin’s final steak fry, a representative for the couple confirmed. It’s a long-standing tradition that launched a young Barack Obama back in the fall of 2006. This year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 14.

Hillary Clinton’s decision to headline the steak fry, which “might promise to be the best ever,” according to Harkin’s website, could be seen as a swift political move for the former New York senator as she continues to mull a second run for president.

The former presidential candidate has not stepped foot in Iowa since she came in third in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 4, 2008. And when she skipped the state during her nationwide book tour this summer, some in Iowa started to feel neglected.

The Gazette, an Iowa newspaper, practically begged Mrs. Clinton to visit last month.

“We’ve watched as you have flexed your muscles on the international stage and have been impressed with your ability to connect,” the Gazette editorialized. “But as Iowans, we need to see that connection in action. Our hope, if you are really considering a 2016 run, is that you have learned from your experience and come to Iowa intent on having true conversations about what matters to our state and the fine people in it.”

The Des Moines Register was first to report the news of Hillary Clinton’s upcoming Iowa appearance Monday. It has been confirmed to ABC News by a top Iowa Democrat with long ties to Harkin, who plans to retire next year at the end of his fifth term.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., passed away Monday morning at the age of 80, a former aide to Jeffords confirmed to ABC News.

Jeffords, who once was a Republican before becoming an independent and caucusing with Democrats, was in declining health and died at the Knollwood Military Retirement Residence in Washington, D.C. around 7 a.m.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., weighed in on Jeffords’ death in a statement to ABC News.

“He was a partner in our work for Vermont, and he was a friend. He was a Vermonter through and through, drawn to political life to make a difference for our state and nation. Part of his legacy will also stand as an enduring chapter of the Senate’s history,” Leahy said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →