By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court sided on Tuesday with adoptive parents in a divisive custody fight over a Native American child after the biological father asserted his parental rights.
The justices, by a 5-4 margin, said the adoption by a white couple was proper and did not intrude on the federal rights of the father, a registered member of the Cherokee tribe, over where his daughter, Veronica, 3, would live.
The court said the father could not rely on the Indian Child Welfare Act for relief because he never had legal or physical custody at the time of adoption proceedings, which were initiated by the birth mother without his knowledge.
Justice Samuel Alito said when "the adoption of an Indian child is voluntarily and lawfully initiated by a non-Indian parent with sole custodial rights, the (law's) primary goal of preventing unwarranted removal of Indian children and the dissolution of Indian families is not implicated."
By Josh Levs, CNN
(CNN) - Celebrity chef Paula Deen, facing allegations of racism that have caused parts of her empire to crumble, slammed what she called "horrible, horrible lies" about her in an emotional, nationally televised interview Wednesday.
"I believe that every creature on this Earth, every one of God's creatures, was created equal," she told NBC's "Today" show. "... I believe that everyone ought to be treated equal."
Deen was raised to never be unkind to anyone, she said.
"I've had to hold friends in my arms while they've sobbed," Deen said, crying. "Because they know what's being said about me - it's not true. And I'm having to comfort them, and tell them it's going to be all right. If God got us to it, he'll get us through it."
The accusations against Deen stem from a lawsuit filed by a former manager of Deen's restaurants in Savannah, Georgia. Lisa T. Jackson's lawsuit alleges that Deen and her brother, Bubba Hier, committed numerous acts of violence, discrimination and racism that resulted in the end of Jackson's five-year tenure at Deen's Lady & Sons and Uncle Bubba's Oyster House eateries in Savannah.
Deen rejects the allegations.
What do you think? Sound off in a video on CNN iReport.
By Bill Mears, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A deeply divided Supreme Court has limited use of a key provision in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, in effect invalidating federal enforcement over all or parts of 15 states with past history of voter discrimination.
The court said it is now up to congressional lawmakers to revise the law to meet constitutional scrutiny.
"Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to the current conditions," said Chief Justice John Roberts for the 5-4 conservative majority.
Section 4 of the law was struck down, the coverage formula used by the federal government to determine which states and counties are subject to continued oversight. Roberts said that formula from 1972 was outdated and unworkable.
By Josh Levs, CNN
(CNN) - Celebrity chef Paula Deen's sons staunchly defended their mother Tuesday, saying allegations of racism are false "character assassination."
"Neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted toward any other person for any reason," Bobby Deen told CNN's "New Day" in an exclusive interview with Chris Cuomo.
"Our mother is one of the most compassionate, good-hearted, empathetic people that you'd ever meet," he added. "These accusations are very hurtful to her, and it's very sad."
In a recent lawsuit deposition, Deen admitted having used the "N-word" long ago. The suit alleges discrimination and racism at two of Deen's restaurants.
But the Deen sons - also chefs with TV shows, and part of their family's restaurant businesses - insisted the depictions of their mother are an effort by the plaintiff to get a chunk of the family fortune.
"I'm disgusted by the entire thing, because it began as extortion and it has become character assassination," Bobby Deen said.
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court side-stepped a sweeping decision on the use of race-conscious school admission policies, ruling Monday on the criteria at the University of Texas and whether it violates the equal protection rights of some white applicants.
The justices threw the case back to the lower courts for further review.
The court affirmed the use of race in the admissions process, but makes it harder for institutions to use such policies to achieve diversity. The 7-1 decision from the court avoids the larger constitutional issues.
By Chelsea J. Carter and Carolyn Sung, CNN
(CNN) - Celebrity chef Paula Deen's contract with The Food Network will not be renewed, the network said Friday, the latest fallout over revelations this week that she admitted to using a racial epithet in the past.
Deen's contract with The Food Network, which airs three shows featuring the chef, expires at the end of the month, the network said.
The Food Network's announcement followed reports earlier this week that Deen acknowledged in a lawsuit deposition to using the "N word," but denied telling racial jokes.
It also came the same day that Deen apologized in video statements posted online for "the wrong that I've done."
"I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I've done," Deen said in the video statement. "I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable. I've made plenty of mistakes along the way but I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness."
What do you think Paula Deen should do now? Are there meaningful ways – words or actions – to recover from racism? How are they different if the person is high-profile, like Deen?
Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and check the latest updates on the story here.
by Dana Bash and Ted Barnett, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Washington (CNN) - A bipartisan amendment intended to increase Republican support for a Senate immigration bill would require 20,000 more border agents, completing a 700-mile fence on the frontier with Mexico and taking other steps before undocumented immigrants can get green cards, conservative Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday.
The proposal, negotiated by a group of senators from both parties known as the "Gang of Eight," also calls for deploying $3.2 billion in technology upgrades sought by the border patrol. Additionally, it seeks worker verification and border entry-exit controls before the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States can get full legal residency, according to the South Carolina Republican.
He noted it would take "a couple of years" to train and deploy the new agents in an expansion that would almost double the current force, and that the Department of Homeland Security would verify when the triggers for improved border security had been met to begin issuing green cards.
Graham, one of the four Republicans in the "Gang of Eight" that put together the compromise bill, also said the measure would include increased fees and other mechanisms to pay for the cost expected to exceed $20 billion.
Other GOP members of the "Gang of Eight" said they supported the plan.
By Alan Duke, CNN
(CNN) - Celebrity chef Paula Deen denies she's ever told racial jokes, but she did acknowledge using the "N" word, according to her deposition in a lawsuit.
A former manager at Deen's restaurants in Savannah, Georgia, is suing her and her brother for sexual and racial harassment.
LIsa T. Jackson's lawsuit alleges that Deen and Bubba Hier committed numerous acts of violence, discrimination and racism that resulted in the end of her five-year employment at Deen's Lady & Sons and Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House eateries in Savannah.
Deen's lawyer called the allegations false.
"Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable," her lawyer, Bill Franklin said. "She is looking forward to her day in court."
Deen was questioned by Jackson's lawyers in May and the deposition was just filed with the court.
By Ted Barrett, CNN Senior Congressional Producer
(CNN) - The Senate is to vote later Tuesday to begin debate on immigration reform, an emotionally charged proposal with huge political stakes that may never get through Congress despite years of negotiation and major compromise.
It aims to create a 13-year path to citizenship for most of the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants, a bipartisan proposal hammered out by the so-called "Gang of Eight" senators this spring that has the backing of President Barack Obama.
Polls show many Americans also favor some form of immigration policy overhaul, depending on the details of legislation.
GOP leaders have signaled their support for starting debate, so a procedural motion aimed at doing so is expected to receive the 60 votes necessary to take that next step even if the fate of the legislation is uncertain.
Obama and congressional Democrats are anxious to fulfill a long-delayed pledge to Latino voters to pass reforms to the troubled immigration system. Passage could pay political dividends for their party for many years.
Republicans are in a more difficult bind.
Latinos backed Obama over Mitt Romney by a 44-point margin in November and GOP strategists are concerned about the party's long term viability in national elections if that trend is not reversed.
Some congressional conservatives say opposing the "Gang of Eight" plan is a matter of principle and they won't bend. They remain skeptical about any measure offering a path to citizenship. A lot of them consider it amnesty.
Editor's note: Erica Williams is a social impact strategist and World Economic Forum Young Global Shaper. She is the CEO of EWS Strategies, a social impact consulting firm that works with high-impact businesses and next generation leaders.
By Erica Williams, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Millennials have gotten a bad rap lately.
Despite much evidence to the contrary, we are seen as selfish and entitled, with little regard for the actual values that we espouse and the socio-economic context in which we live.
But a recent Telefónica-Financial Times Global Millennial Survey - which spoke to more than 12,000 adult millennials, including 1,000 Americans - adds insight to not only what millennials believe, but also what they are doing as a result of their beliefs.
In a world with unrepresentative governments, rising economic gaps in a fluctuating economy, and persistent gender gaps, millennials are blending new ideas about work with their desire to change the world to confidently face harsh societal realities and realize their vision for a brighter future.
As a millennial woman who works to help businesses and young leaders do good and implement innovative social change projects, I have spent the better part of my career working with ambitious, mission-driven millennials.
I know all too well the economic, societal and environmental pressures that this generation faces.
For almost a decade, I worked as an advocate and young nonprofit leader, tackling these and other issues and had begun to achieve professional success
But a year ago, I began to feel an itch. I started to ask myself a series of questions that became louder day by day: Am I fighting these obstacles and pursuing justice as creatively as I know how? Are there new – better and faster – ways to change the world? Am I really making a difference – and doing so in a way that allows me to live a full, financially stable life?
These questions – about money, creativity, work-life balance, and innovation – are often regarded as entitled and self-centered.
But they are far from it. They are a logical and empowered response to a world in which amazing tools are at our fingertips and unprecedented pressures are on our shoulders. FULL POST
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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