Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:
President Joe Biden signed into law the Respect for Marriage Act, a landmark bill to provide federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.
- The law requires the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, and it also requires states to recognize any legal marriage from another state. However, the law does not mandate a state to issue a marriage license, such as for a same-sex marriage, that is contrary to state law. The bill stops short of codifying the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
- The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 61-36, with 12 Republicans joining nearly all Democrats to support the measure. (One Democrat and two Republicans did not vote.) Republican senators who voted in favor of the bill included, among others, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Lisa Murkowski. The bill was passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 258-169. 39 Republicans joined the entire Democratic caucus to vote in favor of the bill. Republican representatives who voted in support of the bill included, among others, Liz Cheney, Elise Stefanik, and Nancy Mace.
- Biden held an event on the White House South Lawn to celebrate enacting the law. During his remarks, Biden said, “Marriage is a simple proposition. Who do you love? And will you be loyal to that person you love? It’s not more complicated than that.” He continued: “For most of our nation’s history, we denied interracial couples and same-sex couples from [federal] protections…And now, this law requires an interracial marriage and same-sex marriage must [sic] be recognized as legal in every state in the nation.”
The January 6 Committee is nearing the end of its investigation.
- With Republicans preparing to control a majority of the House of Representatives starting in January, the January 6 Committee will soon be disbanded. Before then, the Committee will release a final report detailing its findings. The report is expected to be released on Wednesday, December 21, and it is likely to include the information detailed in the Committee’s public hearings as well as previously undisclosed information.
- Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said that on Monday, December 19, the Committee would vote on whether to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. At this time it is unclear what charges the Committee might recommend, but CNN recently reported that former President Donald Trump and four of his allies were being considered, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and former law professor John Eastman.
- Meanwhile, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the expected incoming Speaker of the House, has vowed to launch a Republican-led investigation into January 6 once Republicans control House committees. McCarthy also indicated that Republicans would investigate the work of the current January 6 Committee.
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