Wednesday night, the charismatic leader of the world’s newest religious movement was bouncing manically around a rehearsal room in the basement of the Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington, DC, herding his flock into chairs. Freddie Mercury’s dulcet tones thumped out of the speakers. The congregation—a motley crew of four dozen twenty-somethings wearing tie clips and middle-aged hippies in patterned fleeces—shambled to the front of the room as Sanderson Jones, the man of the hour, warned them that he was going to make us sing. “When they killed Richard III, a group of people did it so they didn’t have to take responsibility for what happened,” said Jones, a tall man sporting enormous black-rimmed glasses with a wrap-around band—the kind you give toddlers or athletes to keep from falling off. “It’s the same with singing.”
Ken Cuccinelli wasn’t even supposed to be running. Among Virginia Republicans, everyone knew the order of succession—after Governor Bob McDonnell wrapped up his term in office, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling was supposed to be next up. That was the bargain the two men struck in 2009 to avoid a messy primary battle. But no one had consulted Cuccinelli, the attorney general and the state’s social conservative darling, and he wasn’t content to wait his turn. In December 2011, Cuccinelli, the man who made his name fighting against abortion and gay rights, announced his candidacy.
In 1999, when John Auburger was elected supervisor of the Town of Greece, he decided to introduce a change of policy. Instead of opening the Rochester, New York suburb’s monthly town board meetings with a moment of silence, Auburger invited a rotating slate of local religious leaders to give an invocation. For the following nine years, every chaplain who delivered the opening prayer was a Christian. In February 2008, two Greece residents, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, sued the town, arguing that the prayers violated the First Amendment by endorsing Christianity.
On November 6, the case, Town of Greece v. Galloway, will go before the Supreme Court. It’s the first time in three decades that the Court has taken up a case on legislative prayer. In Marsh v. Chambers, a 1983 case that tackled the constitutionality of prayer before legislative sessions, the Court upheld the practice of using taxpayer funds to pay state chaplains.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court handed down a ruling that will help determine how the U.S. Supreme Court handles its next big abortion case. But Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice hasn’t been scheduled for oral arguments just yet. The law in question, which deals with abortion-inducing drugs, was messily written, leaving room for considerable doubt about whether the state of Oklahoma intended to require doctors to follow a particular set of dosage requirements (the state attorney’s argument)—or ban the use of the drugs for abortion entirely (the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice’s argument).
On Tuesday afternoon, the Internet suddenly flowered with an abundance of pot jokes. The catalyst for this glut of stoner wit was a new poll from Gallup, showing that 58 percent of Americans favor marijuana legalization. It’s the highest level of support Gallup has seen since it started asking the question back in 1969, and confirms a trend that the Pew Research Center noted back in April, when it found that 52 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. Both polls show that Americans have had an extraordinary change of heart about weed in a very short period of time; just three years ago, support for marijuana legalization was hovering around 40 percent.