By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
ON THE DOCKET: Two potentially transformative cases about gay marriage will be argued at the Supreme Court this week. Justices have set aside two days to hear arguments and will release audio arguments the same day, reports ABC's Ariane De Vogue. Both cases will be decided by the end of June. First up is a challenge to California's Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Although the court could rule more narrowly, this case asks the big question of whether there is a fundamental right to gay marriage. The Supreme Court will also hear a challenge to a federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as between one man and a woman. The law denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in their states. Unlike the Prop 8 case, the DOMA challenge does not address whether there is a fundamental right under the Constitution to gay marriage. http://abcn.ws/15Kp51S
THE PROP. 8 HURDLE: The original sponsors of Prop 8 - a group called Protectmarriage.com - are defending the law because California officials refused to do so. The Supreme Court will explore whether the proponents have the legal right to be in court. If the court finds that the original sponsors have no "standing," then the case comes to a screeching halt, and the court will not reach the merits of the case. Opponents of Prop 8 argue that "standing" requires an injury and proponents of Prop 8 cannot show they will be harmed if same-sex couples marry. "Proponents have never contended - and do not contend before this Court - that they would personally suffer any injury if gay men and lesbians were permitted to marry in California," write lawyers Theodore B. Olson and David Boies on behalf of gay couples who are challenging Prop 8. More details on the merits of the Prop. 8 case http://abcn.ws/15Kp51S and DOMA http://abcn.ws/YP8mXb from ABC's Ariane De Vogue.
KARL ROVE: 'I COULD' IMAGINE A GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SUPPORTING GAY MARRIAGE. Former George W. Bush deputy chief of staff Karl Rove told ABC's George Stephanopoulos Sunday on "This Week" that he can imagine a future Republican presidential candidate supporting gay marriage. When asked, "Can you imagine the next presidential campaign, a Republican candidate saying flat out I am for gay marriage?" Rove responded "I could." The vast majority of Republicans in Congress do not support same-sex marriage. Portman is the only sitting Republican senator to support same-sex marriage. http://abcn.ws/11AD5yF
THE BACKDROP: An ABC News-Washington Post poll released last week found that 58 percent of Americans support legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples, and in the past month, two heavy hitters in politics - former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio - announced their support of same-sex marriage.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: There's no use trying to take the real world out of the high court this time. Added to the fact that the nine justices themselves have quintessentially modern American families - divorces, single life, adopted kids - is the Los Angeles Times' report that Chief Justice John Roberts' lesbian cousin will be attending this week's hearings on gay marriage cases. Then there's the real political world, with Karl Rove saying on ABC's "This Week" yesterday that he can see a Republican candidate for president endorse gay marriage in time for 2016. The public has been dragging political leaders along on the issue for years now; recall it was less than a year ago that President Obama himself still opposed gay marriage. The Supreme Court is more insulated from societal shifts, but it's not immune from them, either. More of my analysis on the gay marriage issue: http://abcn.ws/16Slm5K
ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE: This week gay rights advocates will head to the Supreme Court to hear Theodore Olson, a lawyer opposing Prop 8, argue for marriage equality at the Supreme Court. Olson's argument is as broad as can be, asking the court to recognize a right to gay marriage. But many gay rights advocates, who have worked behind the scenes for years, initially disagreed with Olson's strategy to take a challenge to a state ban (Prop 8, California) on gay marriage to the Supreme Court. They thought he was asking for too much too soon. Last week Linda Greenhouse, who won a Pulitzer prize for her New York Times coverage of the Court, said Olson was right, that his lawsuit has in fact had the effect of "speeding and enhancing public understanding" and support for marriage equality. She says this is due in part to the fact that the lower court held a trial on the issue and gave people the time to think through the issues. When asked about the early schism between gay rights advocates on a conference call last week, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign said the disagreement "is really water under the bridge." http://abcn.ws/11CbQUr
ABC's DEVIN DWYER: The coffin has been opened; autopsy performed. Now it's time for the Republican Party to start aggressively amassing new Twitter followers and Facebook friends like there's no tomorrow. So say two millennial conservatives and high-tech entrepreneurs leading the charge on the GOP makeover after Mitt Romney's failed 2012 campaign. "Whether it's Facebook, whether it's Twitter, whether it's something that isn't even popular yet, sort of augmented reality glasses - doesn't really matter what the tool is, it has to go toward the strategy of educating people and then getting them to the polls," Bret Jacobson, 33, a co-founder of the digital strategy group Red Edge, a told ABC News/Yahoo! News "Power Players" series. "I think it's really going to come down to the next presidential candidate," he added. "Probably the fastest way to reinventing a party is through sort of an insurgent candidate." Who is that candidate? Get their take: http://yhoo.it/ZkzDEk
ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Over the weekend I spoke to Tomas Young and his wife Claudia Cuellar. After being paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Iraq nine years ago Young has decided to end his life in the next few weeks. They are both astonishingly open and at peace with the process, only hoping to change attitudes about death and dying as well as continue to shine a light on their anti-Iraq war activism. A 33-year-old who has served his country bravely is not the type of person who should be out of options, but after nine years of struggling, he is simply sick of suffering. It was a heartbreaking interview, Young's voice is quite blurred and his wife jumps in when needed, but it is an incredibly important story about the aftermath of war.
WHAT WE'RE READING
"CHIEF JUSTICE'S LESBIAN COUSIN WILL ATTEND PROP. 8 HEARING," by the Los Angeles Times' Maura Dolan. Jean Podrasky, 48, a lesbian who wants to marry her partner, will be at Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Proposition 8 in seating reserved for family members and guests of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. 'I am so excited,' said Podrasky, an accountant and the first cousin of the chief justice on his mother's side. 'I feel quite honored and overwhelmed.' Roberts is a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005. Podrasky, who is more liberal, said she rooted for his nomination to be approved by the U.S. Senate. 'He is family,' she said. Podrasky lives in San Francisco and usually sees Roberts only on family occasions. His mother is her godmother, whom she adores. She said Roberts knows she is gay and introduced her along with other relatives during his Senate confirmation hearing. She hopes he will meet her partner of four years, Grace Fasano, during their Washington visit. The couple flew to Washington on Sunday. 'He is a smart man,' she said. 'He is a good man. I believe he sees where the tide is going. I do trust him. I absolutely trust that he will go in a good direction.'" http://lat.ms/YyPvU8
"THIS WEEK" WEB EXTRAS:
-JIM MESSINA REFLECTS ON 'WHITE KNUCKLE' MOMENTS OF 2012 OBAMA CAMPAIGN. Jim Messina, President Obama's 2012 campaign manager, sat down with ABC News' MICHAEL FALCONE and answered viewer questions from Facebook in a Web exclusive after his appearance on the "This Week" roundtable yesterday. Messina looked back at the "white knuckle" moments of the 2012 campaign, reports ABC's Kaye Foley. "I think [it was] after the August debt-limit crisis, and August 2011 where our numbers were, you know, historically low, and then of course after the first debate when everyone was very, very concerned," he said. "Even then I believed we would win, both times, but there were definitely some white knuckle moments." Even as he reflects on the past year, it's clear he's also keeping an eye on the next presidential campaign and the potential Republican contenders. Watch the full Q&A with Messina: http://abcn.ws/16RJvJC
ABC NEWS: Looking ahead to 2016, do you think Republicans have a deeper bench to work with in terms of potential presidential candidates than the Democrats?
MESSINA: "I don't. I think their bench is problematic. If you look at the current standing of the Republican Party nationally, it's the lowest it's been in 30 years, in part because of positions they've taken on the issues. If you look at the 2012 primaries, Governor Romney was forced to go so far right in the primaries because of who the base of the Republican Party is that by the time he got to the general election, he couldn't get to the center. He took positions on immigration reform, on social issues like contraception that were incredibly damaging to him. And I think until the Republican Party deals with its internal fights, their nominees are going to have real problems."
-KARL ROVE SUGGESTS STEPHEN COLBERT MAY NEED 'ANGER MANAGEMENT. Karl Rove, Fox News contributor and former deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, says of comedian-satirist Stephen Colbert's interactions with Rove's bespectacled canned-ham likeness, "Ham Rove,": "He's an entertainer so he gets to be funny and exaggerate things and so forth. Though I have to admit, when he took out the knife and started stabbing it, I think he might need a little bit of professional counseling on his anger management issues."Rove joked "I don't know whether that was working out his inner feelings, or encouraging maybe someone to maybe mimic him or just sort of being funny. But there was a little bit of anxiety in his stabs there." Before joining the "This Week" roundtable, Rove sat down with ABC News' BENJAMIN BELL, answering a variety of viewer questions from Facebook, including what he thinks of George W. Bush's paintings, his career and his thoughts on the Iraq War 10 years later. Watch the full Q&A with Rove: http://abcn.ws/16RR0Al
ABC: What do you think of President Bush's paintings?
ROVE: "I have one. I have one of the original, first forty-threes. He painted my wife and our dogs. And he's pretty good. Particularly, I called him when Barney died. And he'd painted a picture of Barney, which I thought was really, you know, clearly from the heart."
DISSECTING OBAMA'S 'EVOLUTION' ON GAY MARRIAGE: In an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts in May, President Obama stated his personal support for same-sex marriage, becoming the first president to back marriage publicly for gay and lesbian couples. "For me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," Obama told Roberts in May of 2012. While voicing his support at the time, the president said that he had no intention to "nationalize" the issue and hoped it would be left up to the states. In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos earlier this month, the president said he hopes the Supreme Court will grant same-sex couples the right to marry. When asked whether he could think of a compelling reason for states to bar same-sex marriage, he said "I can't, personally. I cannot." More from ABC's Arlette Saenz: http://abcn.ws/10cd43u
BLOOMBERG, NRA BRACE FOR SENATE SHOWDOWN ON GUNS. With the U.S. Senate slated to consider comprehensive gun legislation next month, two powerful voices on different sides of the gun debate - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre - are bracing for the upcoming legislative showdown on guns, notes ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ. Bloomberg's gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, announced this weekend that it will pour $12 million into advertising in 13 key states to convince potentially persuadable Democratic and Republican senators to vote in favor of gun legislation, specifically focusing on the controversial universal background checks; a measure that an ABC News-Washington Post poll found is supported by 91 percent of the public. "We're trying to do everything we can to impress upon the senators that this is what the survivors want, this is what the public wants," Bloomberg said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "If 90 percent of the public want something, and their representatives vote against that, common sense says, they are going to have a price to pay for that." http://abcn.ws/ZhlszU
WOUNDED IRAQ VET PREPARES TO DIE. Tomas Young is "ready to go" as he puts it. After nine years of suffering and with his body quickly deteriorating he has decided to end his struggle. ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports that Young, 33, was paralyzed from the chest down by a sniper's bullet in a battle in Sadr City, Iraq on April 4, 2004, less than a week after he got to the country. He had joined the Army just two days after September 11, 2001 and assumed he would be sent to Afghanistan. Now nine years after that battle he is choosing to end his suffering. He is in hospice care and getting ready to die. "I just decided that I was tired of seeing my body deteriorate and I want to go before it's too late," Young said in phone interview with ABC News from his home in Kansas City, Missouri. "I've been doing this for the past nine years now…and I finally felt helpless every day and a burden to the people who take care of me and that's why I want to go." Young and his wife Claudia Cuellar are receiving guests for a few more weeks. During that time, Young will say goodbye to friends and family and then will stop receiving medications, nourishment and water. They don't know how long it could be after that time he will die, but they believe it will be one to three weeks, but it could be as long as six weeks. Young and Cuellar have decided to go public with their story. First, in an article in the Kansas City Star because they want to change the perception on death and dying in this country as well as continue to shine a light on the anti-Iraq war activism Young has been focused on since becoming paralyzed. http://abcn.ws/10ctZmt
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: ASHLEY JUDD HINTS AT SENATE RUN. Ashley Judd made a rare reference to her possible political aspirations today, saying her mother, country star Naomi Judd, can't wait to turn her garage into campaign headquarters. According to Cincinnati station WXIX-Fox 19, Judd spoke about her future while giving the keynote address at the American Counseling Association's 2013 conference at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, which borders Kentucky. Judd also tweeted about her speech, saying, "Heartfelt thanks to American Counseling Assoc for having me as your Keynote Speaker today. Thank you for your dedication to hope & healing." According to the station, Judd referred to her potential campaign against Mitch McConnell and what is likely to be a large budget of attack ads, saying when she started counseling she didn't like to hear criticism, which she said was ironic because she's "about to get $40 million worth of it." http://abcn.ws/14i1xp1
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX
" JOBS PACKAGE A GOOD DEAL FOR ALL NEW MEXICANS," an Op-Ed by The Albuquerque Journal by GOP New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. "At the beginning of the session, I called on the Legislature to pass reforms making New Mexico more competitive with neighboring states. The mandatory cuts in Washington, D.C., will disproportionately hurt our state and while we will always fight to protect our labs and bases, we must simultaneously work to diversify our economy by building a stronger private sector. I'm pleased that by passing the New Mexico Jobs Package, we reached a bipartisan compromise that will help our economy grow by leveling the playing field with surrounding states. The New Mexico Jobs Package cuts the business tax rate from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent. The 7.6 percent rate is the highest in the region and at 5.9 percent, New Mexico will be more in line with neighboring states. This will help attract new job-creating businesses to our state and help existing businesses grow." http://bit.ly/14iSDY7
@kakukowski: Interesting read from WaPo and the RNC report being start of new beginning http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/can-republicans-learn-from-the-democrats/2013/03/22/ed980f40-9312-11e2-ba5b-550c7abf6384_print.html …
@CrowleyTIME: Feels like we're seeing more and more leaked stories about US/CIA assistance to Syrian rebels-without much real escalation of involvement.