- - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Officials in the law enforcement community opposed to legalizing marijuana are urging Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to speak out before Election Day against three state ballot initiatives that would do just that.

In response, Justice Department spokeswoman Allison Price said the department would not speculate about the outcome of the various ballot initiatives in each of the states — Colorado, Washington and Oregon.

Peter Bensinger, a former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, told reporters that it is important for the public to know the dangers of legalizing marijuana and for the Justice Department to address the issue now.

Among the participants at the news conference were former directors of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Federal law prohibits production, possession and sale of marijuana.

HOUSE

Democrats pan legal spending to defend marriage act

The House’s top two Democrats are criticizing Republicans for spending nearly $1.5 million over the past 15 months on outside attorneys to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland say House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio is wasting taxpayer money in defending the 1996 law.

The legislation, signed by President Clinton, denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and affirms the right of states to refuse to recognize such marriages. President Obama announced last year that the Justice Department no longer would defend the constitutionality of the law. After that, Mr. Boehner convened the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to defend it. Several federal courts this year have ruled against the law.

FLORIDA

No quick appeals review of state’s voter purge case

MIAMI — The legal fight over Florida’s plan to purge almost 200 voters from the rolls because they aren’t citizens will have to wait until after the election.

Two Florida federal judges had ruled that the planned purge of 198 people could go forward despite claims it violates a federal law against removing voters within 90 days of an election. The judges decided that the 90-day rule doesn’t apply to noncitizens.

A challenge to their ruling was made to 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court decided Tuesday that it would not review the challenge before the Nov. 6 election.

OHIO

High court rebuffs GOP, won’t block early voting

COLUMBUS — The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for voters in the battleground state of Ohio to cast ballots on the three days before Election Day, giving Democrats and President Obama’s campaign a victory three weeks before the election.

The court refused a request by the state’s Republican elections chief and attorney general to get involved in a battle over early voting.

CAMPAIGN

Obama has big support in too-young-to-vote crowd

President Obama has long enjoyed strong support from young Americans, and it turns out that even the ones who are too young to vote are in his corner.

Mr. Obama was declared the winner Tuesday in the Scholastic Student Vote, a promotion that saw almost 250,000 children cast unofficial votes in this year’s presidential race and choose the president over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, 51 percent to 45 percent.

Scholastic, a children’s book publisher, has conducted a student mock vote in every presidential election since 1940, and students have correctly picked the winner in every year other than 1948 — when Harry S. Truman lodged his famous upset over Thomas Dewey — and 1960, when John F. Kennedy defeated Richard M. Nixon.
This year’s poll found that students prefer Mr. Obama in several swing states, including Florida and Ohio, where he won by 9 and 7 percentage points, respectively.

MISSOURI

Paul stepping up for embattled Akin

JEFFERSON CITY — Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is coming to the aid of Rep. W. Todd Akin, a Senate candidate in Missouri, with an advertising campaign.

Mr. Paul’s political action committee plans to begin running an ad Wednesday against Sen. Claire McCaskill. The one-minute ad criticizes the Democrat’s vote against a Paul amendment last month that would have blocked foreign aid to Egypt, Libya and Pakistan.

Mr. Paul’s committee is running similar ads against Democratic senators in several states.

Mr. Akin, a Republican congressman from suburban St. Louis, also called for the U.S. to suspend aid to Egypt after a recent attack on the U.S. Embassy.

Ms. McCaskill is saying the U.S. should be mindful of the consequences of suspending foreign aid during an already tense situation in the Middle East. Her campaign notes just 10 senators voted for Mr. Paul’s amendment.

JUSTICE

Officials want lawsuit dismissed over Holder

The Justice Department is seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit by the Republican-led House demanding that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. produce records about the botched law enforcement probe of gun-trafficking called Operation Fast and Furious.

President Obama has invoked executive privilege and the attorney general has refused to turn over documents that might explain what led the Justice Department to reverse course after initially denying that federal agents had used a controversial tactic called gun-walking in the failed law enforcement operation.

In a court filing Monday night, the department said that the Constitution does not permit the courts to resolve the political dispute between the executive branch and the House committee that is seeking the records.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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