federal courts

No ghosts here: Faith in the 'Vindication' of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

No ghosts here: Faith in the 'Vindication' of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

There was big news in Virginia on Thursday.

The banner headline atop today's Richmond Times-Dispatch makes that evident.

This is the straight-news, inverted-pyramid version of what happened:

Federal prosecutors on Thursday moved to drop their corruption case against former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, bringing to a close a case that gripped the state capital, tarnishing the former governor’s reputation and the state’s.
In a brief motion, federal prosecutors asked the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to send the case back to a district court. There, the U.S. will file a motion to dismiss the indictment against Bob McDonnell — once touted as a potential Republican candidate for national office — and against Virginia’s former first lady.
“Today is a great day in which my family and I rejoice,” Bob McDonnell said in a statement. “More than 3½ years after learning of an investigation, the final day of vindication has arrived.”
The Justice Department said in a brief statement: “After carefully considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision” overturning Bob McDonnell’s convictions “and the principles of federal prosecution, we have made the decision not to pursue the case further.”
In September 2014, a federal jury in Richmond convicted Virginia’s 71st governor and the former first lady on corruption charges stemming from their acceptance of more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., then-CEO of Star Scientific, in exchange for promoting the company’s dietary supplement, Anatabloc.

So where is the religion angle in this long-running political drama? Why highlight this story here at GetReligion?

Because there's a strong faith component to the former governor's reaction to the dropped charges — and the Times Dispatch absolutely nails that focus in its coverage.

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Trans commotion again: USA Today skips religious angles in bathroom-showers ruling

Trans commotion again: USA Today skips religious angles in bathroom-showers ruling

Religious conservatives cheered this week when a federal judge blocked the Obama administration's effort to force schools to allow transgendered people to use bathrooms of their choice.

Um … they did, didn’t they? (Squinting at article) Ummm, I could have sworn they would.  But they're not in the report by USA Today on the ruling.

This story, which was also distributed by Religion News Service, does cover a lot of ground in some 700 words. It reviews the lawsuit, brought by 13 states and two school districts, protesting Obama's directive. And it adeptly summarizes both the basic question and the mechanics of enforcement:

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s 38-page order said federal agencies exceeded their authority under the 1972 law banning sex discrimination in schools. The injunction applies nationwide, and follows a number of other recent court rulings against transgender students and employees.
The Texas ruling, issued late Sunday, turned on the congressional intent behind Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which requires that "facilities provided for students of one sex shall be comparable to such facilities provided for students of the other sex."
"It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex" in that law "meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth," the judge wrote. "Without question, permitting educational institutions to provide separate housing to male and female students, and separate educational instruction concerning human sexuality, was to protect students’ personal privacy, or discussion of their personal privacy, while in the presence of members of the opposite biological sex."

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Lovers and labels in coverage of same-sex marriage ruling (updated)

Lovers and labels in coverage of same-sex marriage ruling (updated)

Update: Yikes! One of the drawbacks of media-criticism-on-the-go is the possibility of writing a post that, in retrospect, makes you sound really stupid. Such is the case with this one, which prompted reader Sarah Morriss to comment:

You do know that “Virginia is for lovers” is the tourism and travel slogan used by the Commonwealth of VA, and thus the headline is likely a play on that, no?

Nope. I didn’t know that. But a quick Google search finds a Wikipedia entry describing the slogan as “one of the most iconic ad campaigns in the past 50 years.” Uh, somehow I missed it.

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Wind of change comes sweeping down the plain

My home state of Oklahoma made big news Tuesday when a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The New York Times noted that the ruling occurred in the “heart of the Bible Belt,” while The Associated Press characterized Oklahoma as “the buckle of the Bible Belt.” (Religion angle, anyone?)

For the Tulsa World — whose banner headline today proclaimed “Gay marriage wins” — the ruling hit especially close to home, and not just because a Tulsa-based judge made the ruling. Two of the four plaintiffs are World editors, a connection that — to its credit — the Tulsa newspaper made clear in its story.

A friend of mine who works for the World remarked on his Facebook page that “it’s not often you walk into the newsroom and watch news happen in front of your face. Like national news kind of stuff.”

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