It’s decision time for the supreme court. 30 cases await final opinions some of them on major, controversial issues from affirmative action to same sex marriage. And the answers to these cases could have a big impact on the lives of millions of Americans. CNN's Senior Political Analyst and the Editorial Director for the National Journal Ron Brownstein weighs in on these upcoming decisions.
CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin previews the Defense of Marriage Act case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
FROM CNN WIRES:
Washington (CNN) - It's not often that people camp out for days waiting on a courtroom seat. Then again, it's not often that a court case offers the blend of emotional drama, legal significance and widespread social impact promised by Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court arguments on same-sex marriage.
At stake: nothing less than how America defines marriage.
People who have camped outside the Supreme Court building in frigid temperatures and snow - some since Thursday - will file inside Tuesday morning to watch attorneys argue for and against California's Proposition 8.
The voter-approved ballot initiative banned same-sex marriage in California.Activists on both sides of the issue will stay outside to stage competing rallies.
On Wednesday, justices will hear arguments in a separate case involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which, like the California law, defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
This morning on "Starting Point," California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom weighs in on the arguments before the Supreme Court, and explains why he still thinks there is a lot of work to be done for marriage equality.
READ MORE: Same-sex marriage: A potential Supreme Court blockbuster
CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin previews the same-sex marriage arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Daniel Leffew is a very passionate 12-year-old who wrote a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts urging him to support same sex marriage. Daniel and his father Bryan are on "Starting Point" to talk to John Berman and Christine Romans about how deeply this issue effects their family.
Daniel and his 8-year-old sister Salina were adopted by their two gay dads when Daniel was 5-years-old. When he heard that Chief Justice John Roberts also had two adopted children, he decided to write the letter. Daniel believes that everyone has a different opinion on family, and both he and Justice Roberts “know that no matter if you are blood related, family is people who love and take care of you.”
Daniel suffers from a genetic disorder called Goldenhar syndrome, which affects the whole left side of his body. When he was in foster care he was frequently told he was un-adoptable because of his condition.
Daniel writes this letter a week before the Supreme Court is set to hear the case determining the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in California. Daniel's family lives in California, and while his dads' marriage was grandfathered and not "annulled when they upheld prop 8” he still hopes that Chief Justice Roberts “makes the right decision and sees our family like any other.”
She rose to the Supreme Court after a tough life growing up in the projects in the Bronx. In her new book, Sonia Sotomayor talks about the path and the people who helped her become the woman she is today. She writes about it in her new book, called "My Beloved World."
Today, part two of Soledad's sitdown interview with Justice Sotomayor reveals her thoughts on motherhood and parenting.
Transcript available after the jump.
From growing up in the projects with an alcoholic father to graduating from Princeton University, where she was accepted thanks to a new affirmative action program at the time, Sonia Sotomayor's journey to the Supreme Court was not an easy or traditional one. She chronicles her life in her new book "My Beloved World."
Soledad sits down with Justice Sotomayor to talk about her world and her past.
EDITOR'S NOTE: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor sits down with CNN's Soledad O'Brien to talk about her new memoir, her views on being an affirmative action student and now a judge ruling on those cases, the differences between her and Justice Clarence Thomas, and her view that working mothers can't have it all. The interview will air in two parts on "Starting Point" on Monday, Jan 21st and Tuesday, Jan 22nd at 7aET only on CNN.
By "Starting Point" host Soledad O'Brien
Before my interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she ushered me into her expansive office. It's upstairs from the rest of the justices. You wouldn't know it, but Justice Sotomayor can be loud. She likes to party, she likes noise, laughter and music. The offices downstairs…they tend to be quieter.
As I walk in, I notice a plaque on her front door and take a picture of it. “Well-behaved women rarely make history,” it says. I ask her if I could tweet the photo. She obliges, saying it's a sign that really embodies her and that most reporters miss it.
When we sit down for the interview, the first thing we talk about is Sunday's swearing in of Vice President Biden for his second term. I asked her what she thinks of that historic opportunity, since she would be the first Hispanic judge to administer the oath. I also wondered if she felt added pressure, especially after Chief Justice John Roberts famously fumbled President Barack Obama's oath in 2009.
“When you read my book you know that I practice everything I do over and over again," Justice Sotomayor says. "So I have been saying the oath out loud for a couple of weeks now a couple of times a day but I won’t be relying on my memory either. I’ll have a card with me.”
What's clear is that Justice Sotomayor has a natural ease, which comes across in person and in her new memoir, "My Beloved World." The book recounts her life in the Bronx and her rise through her career, but it ends when she is nominated to her first judgeship on New York's Federal court and doesn't include much about her Supreme Court seat.
Her book also focuses a lot on her roots, her tight-knit Puerto Rican family and growing up in poverty in a public housing project in the Bronx, NY. She went on to college at Princeton and Yale, then worked as a lawyer until she was appointed to her first judgeship in 1991. Despite her rise, she never forgets where she came from.
An important theme she makes in the book is that she doesn't try to glamorize her great successes. Sotomayor makes a point of explaining the lessons she's learned through the challenges she's faced along the way. She recounts what it was like to attend Princeton in 1972, the 3rd year of classes for women at the school. At the time, there were virtually no Latinos at the school but she was still able to observe the plusses, challenges and ultimately the lessons learned from what was at times an isolating experience.
In her first year on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor says she was terrified. She points to her colleagues around her as the ones she relied on for mentoring. Though in reading her memoir and talking with her, it's clear that her drive to 'make it' is evident throughout her life. Even though she says she feels unprepared and not ready for her various experiences, she always manages to take a lay of the land and not only succeed but also outcompete everyone else.
She didn't shy away from talking openly about her diabetes and the importance of staying fit for her health. She felt she had an opportunity in the book to be an example for others.
Justice Sotomayor may be a new kind of Supreme Court Justice, one who knows her power as a role model and as someone who people can relate to. When talking with her in the interview, it's clear her friendliness and warmth makes it's easy to forget she holds a seat on the highest court in the country.
At the end of the interview, I introduced Justice Sotomayor to Erica Ramos, a recent college graduate from the Bronx. Sotomayor embraced Erica, who was trembling from joy, and autographed a book for her.
Sotomayor offered her some advice: You have so many great opportunities. Take them.
CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin takes a closer look at the competing visions between President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts in his new book, “The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court.”
“[Obama and Roberts] are six years apart in age, both products of the Chicago area, both products of Harvard law school, [and] the Harvard law review, but fundamentally in terms of what matters, incredibly different,” Toobin says on Starting Point today. “[One] really wants to change the constitution and the other doesn’t. I think most people would be surprised that it’s actually Roberts who is the candidate of change when it comes to the Supreme Court.”
Toobin's new book compares the Supreme Court's goals with those of the White House, specifically exmaining Chief Justice Roberts' strategy and decision on crucial cases, like the Affordable Care Act.
Mitt Romney is officially aligning himself with the Republican party, calling the health care law's individual mandate a "tax." Days after the Supreme Court ruling, Romney's top strategist said the candidate disagreed, and felt the provision was a mandate. But the court's decision to call the mandate a tax is likely to have one unexpected impact on every single American.
Jack Abramoff, a former Washington lobbyist, says the Supreme Court has opened up an opportunity for Congress to tax Americans on "inactivity," and says this precedent could change the way Congress looks at new laws.
Abramoff, author of "Capitol Punishment: The hard truth about Washington corruption," explains how lobbyists could exploit the health care ruling on "Starting Point" this morning.
In the additional clip below, New Yorker's Ryan Lizza challenges Abramoff on his claim.
Starting Point airs weekdays from 7am to 9am ET on CNN. Check in often to join the daily conversation.