A good Tuesday morning to everyone. There are two big stories this morning: the Baltimore riots and the arguments before the Supreme Court today on same-sex marriage. As usual, I will be updating this post with new content as the morning progresses. We’ve lined up a great show on Morning in America today:

6:30am EST: Ryan Anderson explains what’s at stake at the Supreme Court today regarding the institution of marriage.

7:30am EST: Bill Kristol discusses the big week in politics, from the Baltimore riots to marriage before the Supreme Court to the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

8:05am EST: Gary Bauer weighs in on the future of marriage before the Court.

8:30am EST: Heather Mac Donald will provide expert commentary on the situation in Baltimore and what should be done about it.

Baltimore Riots: Watching the rioting, looting, and destruction of Baltimore on live television broke my heart. My family has close ties to the area and I’ve always respected Baltimore for being a tough, blue collar city. The area was devastated by the recession and has yet to fully recover. Inner city Baltimore was particularly hurt. Unemployment is chronically high and the area boasts one of the worst murder rates in the country (though it’s gone down in recent years). Baltimore is a hard city, but with some real, genuine people who care about their city. Yesterday, these people watched thugs and criminals loot, vandalize, and burn their city.

A few initial thoughts:

1. The police are in a lose-lose situation. If they retreat and show restraint, like they initially did yesterday, then they are criticized for allowing the rioters to run wild. If they overreact and show too much force, they are criticized for being militarized and over-aggressive.

2. The peaceful protests were hijacked by thugs and criminals who don’t know and don’t care about Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray’s cause was lost in all the chaos. The image that best captured this was the man caught on camera cutting and slicing a fire hose as firefighters attempted to save a CVS that was set on fire.

3. Is this the new norm? Every time there is a controversy involving a minority and the police will we see riots like we had in Ferguson and New York City and now have in Baltimore?

Here are some of the latest headlines from Baltimore to catch you up to speed:

Baltimore mayor announces weeklong 10 p.m. curfew to quell riots; National Guard Activated

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a weeklong, citywide 10 p.m. curfew starting Tuesday night to quell riots and looting that broke out on Baltimore’s west side Monday.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and requested the U.S. National Guard to assist Baltimore police and several other state and local agencies in enforcing the curfew.

The latest curfew is in addition to the juvenile curfew instituted last year requiring children younger than 14 to be indoors by 9 p.m. on school nights.

15 Officers Injured, Businesses Looted, Fires Set As Violent Riots Plague Baltimore

Fifteen Baltimore City police officers were injured, multiple vehicles were vandalized and set on fire, and businesses were looted as a massive group of rioters ran wild along North Avenue early Monday evening.

As a result, a city-wide curfew was put in place in an effort to restore order.

It’s believed the riots may be a result of fliers that were apparently shared over the weekend on social media asking high schoolers to rally at Mondawmin Mall. It was supposed to be a peaceful march for Freddie Gray that extended from Mondawmin Mall to The Avenue.

Instead, things quickly spiraled out of control.

Police said the hurt officers suffered injuries from flying debris in the melee as rioters began attacking them unprovoked. At least one was knocked unconscious. Two officers remained hospitalized Monday night. Twenty-seven suspects were arrested.

Police: Baltimore Gangs Threaten To ‘Take Out’ Officers

The Baltimore Police Department has received information that a number of Baltimore area gangs have joined forces to “take out” officers.

According to a press release from the Baltimore Police department, members of the Black Guerilla Family, Bloods and Crips have partnered to harm law enforcement officials.

Police are taking this as a credible threat.

“Law enforcement agencies should take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of their officers,” the statement says.

National Guard: There was some controversy yesterday about what took so long for Baltimore to mobilize the national guard to come to the aid of the city police. In some states, the governor is in charge of activating the national guard. However, from the stories below that I gathered, it appears that the city of Baltimore had to call up and request the national guard from the governor.

Maryland governor glad Baltimore mayor ‘finally’ requested state aid

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said at a Monday night press conference that his administration was glad that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had “finally” requested that the National Guard step in as police and citizens clashed in parts of the city over the arrest and fatal injury of 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray.

“When the mayor called me, which quite frankly we were glad that she finally did, instantly we signed the executive order,” he said.

He said that the use of the National Guard “represents a last resort in order to restore order.”

BALTIMORE SUN:

Col. Charles Kohler, a National Guard spokesman, said before Hogan’s statement that the National Guard had been monitoring events in Baltimore since Saturday through the news and had been notified to be prepared but had not received any specific requests for help.

A formal request for help would have to be made by city officials to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the governor makes the final decision to call up the National Guard, Kohler said.

Questionable Tactics: Anyone who watched the live television coverage of the riots and looting yesterday could easily tell that the Baltimore city police were outnumbered and unable to quell the situation. The genesis of this situation may have been some very questionable tactics for containing the protests, as explained by Baltimore’s mayor below. Her office has since insisted she misspoke and didn’t mean this. Regardless, it’s a bad mistake and even if she meant to say “protest” instead of “destroy” I still think it’s bad policy to give oxygen to sparks. As we saw, those sparks burst into flames yesterday.

The odd tactic of giving Baltimore protesters ‘space’ to destroy property 

AUDIO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_5KQC7k8Lc

…What no one expected is what Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake admitted in a press conference on Sunday: that she asked the Baltimore Police Department to “give those who wished to destroy space to do that.”

“We work very hard to keep that balance [between free speech and destructive elements], and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate,” she said.

…Despite her comments about creating a “space” for more destructive elements in protests, Mayor Rawlings-Blake expressed disappointment on Sunday night at the “outside forces” who she said were “inciting some of the ‘shut this city down’ sort of messaging,” according to the Baltimore Sun.

Community Leaders: In all the horribleness of the riots, many citizens of Baltimore were fed up with the violence and looting, like this one Vietnam veteran that CNN found. We need more community leaders like this man.

Baltimore Resident: These Kids Need To Get Their Butts Home And Study; I’m Not Black, I’m An American

While covering the riots in Baltimore, CNN’s Joe Johns caught up with a man securing his neighborhood from agitators. The man, a Vietnam War vet, said the young rioters need to “have their butts home” and be “studying.”

The man, identified as Robert Valentine, is black but said he does not consider himself “black, white, red, yellow, or nothing,” but an American.

“I did 30 years, okay, came out a Master Sergeant,” Valentine told CNN’s Joe Johns. “I’ve seen more than all this. I’ve been through the riots already. This right here is not relevant. They need to have their butts at home. They need to be in their home units with their families studying and doing something with their life. Not out here protesting about something that is not really about nothing.”

“They do not respect this young man’s death. You know. Now, mama and daddy lost a child. That could be them. So I’m very pissed,” Valentine also said.

“I love my country,” Valentine said. “I love my Charm City. I’m an American. I’m not black, white, red, yellow or nothing. I am American.”

SCOTUS and Same-Sex Marriage: The other huge story today is gay marriage before the Supreme Court. At stake is the fundamental right of the people of a state to vote on and decide its own definition of marriage.

Ryan Anderson has a good primer on what’s at stake today and here’s a helpful explanation from NPR:

Legal Battle Over Gay Marriage Hits The Supreme Court Tuesday

As of now, gay marriage is legal in 36 states. By the end of this Supreme Court term, either same-sex couples will be able to wed in all 50 states, or gay marriage bans may be reinstituted in many of the states where they’ve previously been struck down.

Tuesday’s Supreme Court arguments focus on two questions: First, whether bans on gay marriage are constitutional; and second, if they are, whether those states with bans may refuse to recognize out-of-state gay marriages performed where they are legal.

The court has scheduled an extraordinary 2 1/2 hours of argument and will make the audio available online later Tuesday.

Four states — Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky — are defending their bans. They won their case in the lower court, and because other appeals courts threw out bans enacted in other states, the Supreme Court now must resolve the conflict.

Religious Freedom: The Supreme Court did issue some encouraging news yesterday. In a case similar to Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor, the Court again found that religious institutions should not be forced to abide by the contraception mandate in Obamacare.

SCOTUS Strikes Another Blow against HHS Mandate

The Supreme Court has defended religious freedom once again, striking another blow against Obamacare’s contraception mandate.

On Monday, the justices ordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit  to reconsider a ruling that denied a group of Catholic ministries in Michigan the freedom to follow their faith. 

The Michigan Catholic Conference and other Catholic ministries took their request to the Supreme Court after a surprising lower court decision that would have allowed large IRS fines against the ministries.

Based on their religious beliefs, these ministries cannot provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans.

 

Photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/l9dee7x