California Judge Rules the Death Penalty Unconstitutional

A U.S. District Court judge declared the death penalty "unconstitutionall" in the State of California.

In the ruling that was released today, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney wrote that, an "inordinate and unpredictable delay has resulted in a death penalty system in which very few of the hundreds of individuals sentenced to death have been, or even will be, executed by the State."

NBC Bay Area first reported the ruling:

In his 29-page ruling on the Jones vs. Chappell case, Carney wrote that when an individual is condemned to death in California, the sentence carries with it the promise that it will actually be carried out.

That promise is made to citizens, jurors, victims and their loved ones and to the hundreds of individuals on death row, he wrote.

However, Carney argues, “for too long now, the promise has been an empty one.”

Read the full story here.

Gay Marriage Fight Shifts to the States

Photo courtesy RNS.

LGBT supporter at the Supreme Court on June 26. Photo courtesy RNS.

The legal battle over same-sex marriage has shifted from the Supreme Court to state capitals and lower courts as supporters seek to build on their recent victories and opponents hope to thwart that progress.

Armed with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, lawyers representing same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and vowed to follow with others in North Carolina and Virginia.

Those cases will be added to at least 11 pending from New Jersey to Hawaii.

Boston College, ACLU Clash Over Condom Giveaway

An effort by Boston College administrators to shut down a student-run program to distribute condoms and provide information on safe sex could end up in court, according to Boston media outlets.


School officials sent a letter this month threatening disciplinary action to students behind “Safe Sites,” the network of dorm rooms serving as outlets for condoms, lubricants and other material.

The students were told the effort conflicts with the “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”

Race the Driving Factor Behind Arizona’s SB 1070?

E-mails from former Sen. Russell Pearce purportedly reveal the motivations behind SB 1070, claims the ACLU:

"The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has released thousands of e-mails that it says proves Arizona's controversial immigration law was racially motivated.

The e-mails, acquired through a public records request to the state Legislature, are to and from former senator Russell Pearce, who authored Senate Bill 1070."

Read the full story HERE.

A Spirituality of Privacy

Facebook screenshot, Annette Shaff /

Facebook screenshot, Annette Shaff /

Politically, the right to online privacy seems like a no-brainer. Just as employers, and the government, shouldn’t be allowed to snoop through one’s personal diary or journal, the privacy of our digital records should be likewise respected, in law and in practice.

But biblically, theologically, and spiritually, it gets more complicated. For instance, what would a “spirituality of privacy” look like? At the core of spirituality is a connection with the divine. That begins in our heart of hearts and is by necessity a private, solitary practice. But it doesn’t end there. Genuine, life-transforming spirituality is personal, but never “private,” in the sense of “restricted to me alone.” Rather, spirituality is about the connection between a person and the divine and about the connection between a person and other people. In other words, there is an essential communal, public aspect of spirituality. Genuine spiritual enlightenment leads not only to an enriching of our connection with God, but with one another as well. Thus in some ways the distinction between a “private” spirituality and our public face is an artificial one, and at our best these two aspects of our being will be in harmonious synchronicity.

NYPD Did No Wrong in Secretly Surveilling N.J. Muslims, Attorney General Report Says

RNS photo by Noah K. Murray/courtesy The Star Ledger NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) Islamic

New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa speaks in January, 2012. RNS photo by Noah K. Murray/courtesy The Star Ledger

Islamic leaders say they are shocked that a review by New Jersey's state attorney general into the New York Police Department’s secret surveillance operation targeting Muslim businesses and mosques in New Jersey found the NYPD did nothing wrong.

The three-month probe, ordered by Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa, concluded there was no evidence to show the NYPD’s activities in the state violated New Jersey’s civil or criminal laws.

"Based on what we saw, their conduct was permissible," said one of the officials involved with the review who was not at liberty to discuss the report publicly. "There was no evidence of illegal wiretaps or search and seizures. We’re not seeing any violations of law."