Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 5:03 pm
The Obama administration will stop enforcing two sections of a law that lays out benefits for U.S. veterans. The sections define marriage as between a man and woman and deny legally married same-sex couples Veterans Affairs benefits like health care and disability payments.
The Justice Department had in 2012 decided not to defend the statute in court. On Wednesday, in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, Attorney General Eric Holder explained the executive branch was going a step further.
A customer rolls a joint made of half marijuana and half tobacco to smoke inside of Frankie Sports Bar and Grill in Olympia, Wash., in December 2012.
Credit Nick Adams / Reuters/Landov
Federal prosecutors are being told by Attorney General Eric Holder to focus on cartels, criminal enterprises and those who sell the drug to children, not on casual marijuana users, a Justice Department official tells NPR's Carrie Johnson.
Holder today informed the governors of Washington and Colorado — two states that recently legalized the sale of marijuana for personal use — about the new guidelines for prosecutors, the official adds.
Bu the new guidelines will apply to all states, not just Washington, Colorado and those where "medical marijuana" is legal.
The sun sets behind a guard tower at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.
Credit Scott Olson / AFP/Getty Images
(We put a new top on this post at 1:40 p.m. ET.)
Arguing that it is "well past time to address persistent needs and unwarranted disparities," Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday laid out more of the Obama administration's thinking on changes it wants to make to the way nonviolent offenders are prosecuted and how they are punished.
"Our system is in too many ways broken," Holder told the American Bar Association at its annual meeting in San Francisco. "The course we are on is far from sustainable."
Sit down with the attorney general to ask him about his priorities, as NPR did earlier this year, and he'll talk about voting rights and national security. But if you listen a bit longer, Eric Holder gets to this: "I think there are too many people in jail for too long, and for not necessarily good reasons."
This is the nation's top law enforcement officer calling for a sea change in the criminal justice system. And he's not alone.
Edward Snowden, seen during a video interview with <em>The Guardian</em>.
Credit Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras / EPA/Landov
"The United States would not seek the death penalty for Mr. Snowden should he return to the United States," Attorney General Eric Holder has told his Russian counterpart in a letter about the "NSA leaker" who remains in legal limbo at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.