Morning Briefing: April 5, 2012

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News admitted that a top executive approved the hacking of emails, claiming it was “justified and in the public interest.” Email hacking is a violation of British law, but the managing editor approved it on at least two instances.

A challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act went before a U.S. appeals court for the first time yesterday, potentially leading to a Supreme Court decision next year on whether legally married same-sex couples are entitled to equal benefits under federal law. A three-judge panel from the First Circuit Court in Boston heard the oral argument.

The latest USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 swing states shows Mitt Romney losing support among independent voters. Romney has dropped 10 points among independents since the fall, while President Obama is up by nearly the same amount. Independent women in particular prefer Obama to Romney by a wide margin.

A judge yesterday gave a sentence of up to 65 years in prison to the the five police officers who shot unarmed citizens in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and tried to cover up the incident. In the aftermath of the sentencing, New Orleans is looking to clean up its police department.


Connecticut is set to become the fifth state in the last five years to abolish the death penalty after the state Senate passed a bill early this morning. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass as well. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Job cuts are down significantly from this time last year. Bloomberg reports that “planned firings fell by 8.8 percent from March 2011 to a 10-month low of 37,880” and that “job cuts at government and nonprofit agencies were down 86 percent last quarter compared with the same period in 2011.”

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum told a crowd in Pittsburgh on Wednesday that his home state primary on April 24 is a must-win for his presidential campaign. Those words may prove to be prophetic, as a new poll from Public Policy Polling shows a 23 point swing in favor of Mitt Romney over the last month. Romney now holds a 6 point lead in the state.

President Barack Obama signed legislation barring members of Congress for trading stocks on privileged information, saying the STOCK Act is an embodiment of the “notion that the powerful shouldn’t get to create one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for everybody else.”

And finally: President Obama flashed the Vulcan salute with Lt. Uhura, or at least the actress who played her, Nichelle Nichols. Nichols posted a photo of her and Obama doing the iconic hand gesture from “Star Trek” in the Oval Office from a recent visit.