Featured Current Event
September 15, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Court Rules Guantánamo Detainees Are Not Entitled to Due Process
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court panel has ruled for the first time that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are not entitled to due process, adopting a George W. Bush-era view of detainee rights that could affect the eventual trial of the men charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks...
September 10, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Pilgrims, Principles, and Politics
Additional Current Events
September 10, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Citing ongoing outbreak, Johnson County officials don’t plan to resume jury trials just yet
Citing the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Johnson County, officials plan to continue to postpone jury trials here until positivity rates come down across the county.
The Iowa Supreme Court ordered that courts could start resuming jury trials Sept. 14 after they were halted in March due to the pandemic...
September 14, 2020 | Student Rights
Transgender students score victories in landmark lawsuits
WASHINGTON — Transgender teen Andrew Adams used the boys bathroom, which aligned with his gender identity, when he enrolled as a freshman in 2015 at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
Then two girls lodged a complaint and school authorities ordered Adams to use a gender-neutral or girls restroom instead. In 2017, he filed suit against the St. Johns County School Board...
September 9, 2020 | Separation of Powers
DeSantis vetoes vaping bill, calls the practice less dangerous than cigarettes
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night vetoed a controversial bill that would have raised the age to buy tobacco to 21 and imposed new regulations on vape shops and e-cigarette manufacturers...
September 8, 2020 | Property Rights
Fewer civil asset forfeiture seizures in 2019, but advocates push for more reform
(The Center Square) – The 2019 civil asset forfeiture report released by Michigan State Police shows that more than $12 million in cash and other assets were forfeited to local governments and police agencies last year by people accused, but not necessarily convicted of, a crime.
A 2019 measure signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that went into effect Aug. 7, 2019, required a criminal conviction before some property seized under the Public Health Code can be forfeited...
September 3, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Governor eases travel quarantine order
SANTA FE – New Mexico’s 14-day quarantine mandate for most incoming travelers, one of the strictest orders of its kind in the nation, is getting a facelift.
Under a revised order issued by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that takes effect Friday, most individuals entering New Mexico from 36 different states – including Arizona and Texas – and all foreign countries will still be subject to a revised travel quarantine order...
August 31, 2020 | Gun Rights
First Richmond gun show since new gun control laws took effect sees ‘record demand’
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Thousands turned out this weekend for the first gun show in Richmond since a new universal background checks laws took effect earlier this summer.
It was also the first event of its kind since the coronavirus pandemic began back in March, according to the Virginia Citizens Defense League...
September 4, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
Trump Shutting Down 159-Year-Old Stars And Stripes, Newspaper For Troops
The Pentagon sent a memo ordering Stars and Stripes, a newspaper for American troops that dates back to the Civil War and is funded by Congress, to begin preparations to “dissolve” by September 15, in what amounts to the latest attack by President Trump’s administration on the free press...
August 30, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Ben Shapiro loses free speech lawsuit against UMN over venue change
A judge determined Friday that University of Minnesota officials were driven by safety concerns in conservative speaker Ben Shapiro’s freedom of speech lawsuit, according to the Pioneer Press.
Shapiro and the groups that sponsored his campus visit – Young America's Foundation and Students for a Conservative Voice – filed a lawsuit in July 2018, alleging that the University held the event on a smaller venue on the St. Paul campus instead of a larger venue on the Minneapolis campus due to political bias...
August 31, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Oakland PD raided this church. And took all their drugs.
Religion means different things to different people. For the members of the Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants in Oakland, it means communing with God through a fog of cannabis smoke and hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Dave Hodges leads the unconventional church, preaching in a pot leaf-patterned robe while his congregation of up to 100 parishioners gathers every Sunday at 4:20 p.m. and smokes communal joints. Hodges elaborates on the teachings of Terence McKenna and shares spiritual experiences he’s had while taking up to 30 grams of mushrooms at once, 10 times a typical dose, and enough to make even the most fervent atheist see heavenly beings...
August 30, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Unlawful assembly declared as protesters clash during Pro-Trump rally in Beverly Hills
Over two hundred people gathered in Beverly Hills for a Pro-Trump rally Saturday afternoon.
This is part of a weekly Freedom Rally that has been held at Beverly Gardens Park since late July...
August 27, 2020 | Federalism
Hurricane Laura: More emergency federal aid could be coming for states hit by storm
WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The White House says it is monitoring Hurricane Laura’s destruction closely. President Donald Trump visited FEMA Thursday to get an update on the storm and its impact.
Officials in Washington, D.C. are preparing for the worst as the storm moves inland...
August 24, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
TikTok Sues Trump Administration, Claims Ban Violates Its Right To Due Process
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — TikTok is answering a federal ban Monday with a lawsuit, alleging President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop the company from doing business in the United States violates its right to due process...
August 27, 2020 | Citizen Juries
COVID-19 concerns cause months long delays for jury trials
ATLANTA - Jury trials and most grand jury proceedings have been paused since March in Georgia due to concerns about spreading COVID-19.
Alan Holcomb, an attorney with The Law Center, and his clients have no choice but to wait...
August 24, 2020 | Student Rights
Black student alleges racially hostile environment at Ann Arbor high school in civil rights complaint
ANN ARBOR, MI - A Black high school student has filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights alleging she and other Black students face a racially hostile environment at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School.
The complaint was filed in conjunction with a 14-page letter describing in detail the alleged racism the student and other Black students have faced at the school, and how it has interfered with their education. Another complaint was filed by a Pioneer student with the U.S. Department of Education alleging a teacher’s violations of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act...
August 21, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Michigan Court of Appeals backs Whitmer on use of emergency power
LANSING — The Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court ruling that said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has not exceeded her emergency powers under the Emergency Powers of Governor Act during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We hold that the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency, her extension of the state of emergency, and her issuance of related executive orders fell within the scope of the governor’s authority under the EPGA," the court said in a 2-1 opinion...
August 25, 2020 | Property Rights
Controversial law allows police to seize and sell cars of non-lawbreakers, keeping the proceeds
A controversial law that allows police in Minnesota to take and sell someone's personal property is coming under more scrutiny after the state patrol seized a woman's car during a drunk driving stop late last year, even though she was not driving or charged with a crime.
Emma Dietrich recently paid thousands of dollars to buy back a 2013 Chevy Camaro that she had already paid off...
August 17, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Governments have collected large amounts of data to fight the coronavirus. That’s raising privacy concerns
Technology has enabled the world to respond quickly to the coronavirus pandemic — but solutions through mass data collection have also raised questions about privacy rights. Digital check-in systems, wristband trackers and mobile applications are just some examples of the surveillance technology implemented by governments to monitor and track the movement of people as they seek to stem the spread of the virus...
August 19, 2020 | Gun Rights
Trump and Biden on guns: Far apart on policy and perspective
The candidates change; the divide on guns remains the same. The surprise will be if the contest between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican President Trump unearths much beyond what voters have come to expect from the two major parties on gun policy in recent elections.
August 15, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
Hong Kong journalists harassed, arrested and lose press freedoms under new China law
HONG KONG — Once known for fierce independence and exposing the misdeeds of the political elite, iCable has had the sting taken out of its reporting as the Chinese Communist Party tightens its grip on this city by arresting journalists and raiding newsrooms.
The broadcaster’s new director of news, Oscar Lee, is best known for being a television anchor and a parenting influencer. He was widely mocked on social media after a recent interview with the police chief, which critics said was overly fawning and deferential...
August 14, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Federal judge sides with wedding photographer, says Louisville law violates free speech
A federal judge has ordered Louisville not to enforce the Fairness Ordinance against a local photographer.
Chelsea Nelson sued Louisville November 2019, she argued the ordinance violates her constitutional rights by making it illegal to refuse her services for same-sex weddings. She also said Louisville made it illegal for her to explain her beliefs against same-sex marriage on the studio’s website...
August 12, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Bend, Oregon activists block ICE bus, prompting federal agents’ response
Federal agents in Bend, Ore., clashed with hundreds of protesters late Wednesday night after an hourslong standoff sparked by the arrest of two men by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, who said they were a "threat to the public."
August 12, 2020 | Federalism
State responds after more than a dozen California parents sue Governor Newsom to reopen schools
More than a dozen California parents are suing Governor Gavin Newsom over his school closure order. The lawsuit aims to reopen schools across the state, but the state is fighting back.
"This is a human rights crisis. Our children are being denied a fair and appropriate education,” said Christine Ruiz...
August 12, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Coronavirus Negotiators Remain ‘Miles Apart,’ Pelosi Says
WASHINGTON—A dayslong standoff between Democrats and Republicans over another coronavirus-relief bill showed no signs of abating Wednesday, as negotiations threatened to stall until next month, when lawmakers must reach an agreement to keep the federal government funded.
August 12, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Oregon judge: Cities cannot fine people for living outside
GRANTS PASS — An Oregon city has joined Boise in eliciting a precedent-setting court ruling that could change how cities nationwide cite and fine people living outside.
A U.S. judge decided last month that Grants Pass violated its homeless residents’ Eighth Amendment rights by excluding them from parks without due process and citing them for sleeping outside, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported...
August 10, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Pittsburgh dem proposes citizen police review boards
Counties would be allowed to create citizen police review boards under legislation proposed recently in the state Legislature.
Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, introduced House Bill 2691 to amend state law allowing second through eighth class counties to create the boards, which would have nine members. Members would reflect the geographic and cultural diversity of a county, according to the legislation, with membership made up of two members from a borough, two members from a first class township, two members from a second class township and one member from the county at-large...
August 7, 2020 | Student Rights
Pajamas ban for students learning from home draws mixed response
Students in one central Illinois district are barred from wearing pajamas while taking online classes, with education officials there saying sleepwear is "not acceptable school apparel."
The Springfield Public Schools Board of Education this week approved the district's new student handbook, which included language that applies in-person dress codes to remote instruction...
August 9, 2020 | Separation of Powers
What’s in Trump’s Executive Actions on Coronavirus Aid—and What’s Not
President Trump signed four executive actions Saturday to provide additional jobless aid, suspend the collection of payroll taxes, avoid evictions and assist with student-loan payments. Mr. Trump made the moves as talks in Congress over a broad new coronavirus aid package remained deadlocked and are seen as potentially accelerating talks...
August 2, 2020 | Property Rights
A rental car owner wanted to help police solve a drug crime. Instead they took his car.
A middle-aged executive of a supply chain management company was driving a black Chevrolet Malibu west on the interstate on a hot evening in April when he caught the eye of a Hancock County Sheriff's Deputy.
The deputy allegedly clocked the sedan at going at least 8 mph above the speed limit, flicked on his blue lights, and pulled behind the black Malibu, which had Texas license plates...
August 6, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Judge sides with Louisiana governor, upholds virus rules
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana judge Thursday upheld Gov. John Bel Edwards' statewide mask mandate and bar restrictions as legal and enforceable, rejecting claims from Jefferson Parish business owners that the Democratic governor overstepped his legal authority in enacting the coronavirus rules...
August 4, 2020 | Gun Rights
After a gunman killed 9, Gov. DeWine heard chants of ‘Do something!’ and rolled out a plan. A year later, Ohio laws haven’t changed a bit.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The day after a gunman killed nine people and injured 27 more, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine stood on the brick-lined streets of the Oregon District in Dayton and started to speak.
The former prosecutor turned Republican governor remarked about the crowd size and then a voice cried out: “Do something!”...
August 3, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
American journalist tops ‘10 Most Urgent’ list of press freedom cases
NEW YORK — The One Free Press Coalition, a united group of pre-eminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide, today issued its 18th “10 Most Urgent” list of journalists whose press freedoms are being suppressed or whose cases are seeking justice...
July 31, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Princeton professor pushes back on cancel culture on campuses: ‘First Amendment is for all of us’
The right to free speech in America needs to be protected, Princeton University jurisprudence professor Robert George stated Friday. According to reporting from WLIX, when Greg and Kjersten Offbecker created the St. Johns inn -- named The Nordic Pineapple -- they installed the flag, hanging an American flag alongside it...
August 3, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Could the state enforce the Safe Start plan for religious organizations?
YAKIMA COUNTY -- Some local churches are holding indoor services despite the governor's order, but would the state really fine a church for not obeying?
August 2, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
New Mexico governor nixes door-knocking, but not protests — then clarifies
Hundreds of people gathered and marched on Saturday in Portland, Oregon, marking the 66th night of Black Lives Matter protests in the city, according to the Portland Police Bureau.
Police said hundreds of people gathered at the federal courthouse Saturday night to protest and hear speeches before marching through downtown. That march was peaceful, police said...
July 29, 2020 | Federalism
Federal Agents Agree to Withdraw From Portland, With Conditions
Federal tactical teams that have clashed with protesters in Portland in recent weeks will soon begin leaving the city, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon said Wednesday.
Under an agreement between Ms. Brown and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the governor’s office said the Oregon State Police will provide security for the exterior of the city’s federal courthouse, while the usual team of federal officers that protects the courthouse year-round will continue to provide security for the interior of the building...
July 28, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
End ‘no-knock’ warrants? Fully fund body cameras? SC lawmakers tackle police reform
South Carolina has left police officers without the training or equipment needed to handle people dealing with the challenges of homelessness, drug addition, mental health, school discipline and more, experts told a S.C. House panel Tuesday.
“Yet, largely, that is what we rely on them to do,” testified Seth Stoughton, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, who before becoming an expert on better policing was a police officer and investigator in Florida...
July 28, 2020 | Citizen Juries
State Supreme Court throws out jury tampering conviction
DETROIT (AP) — Who is a juror?
Not someone who is simply told to report for jury duty, the Michigan Supreme Court said Tuesday as it overturned the jury tampering conviction of a man in western Michigan.
Keith Wood was distributing pamphlets in 2015 outside the Mecosta County courthouse in Big Rapids. He told two women they could choose their conscience over the law if they were picked to serve on a jury.
July 20, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Committee OKs $5 million to settle class-action lawsuit by motorists denied due process after vehicles seized in drug cases
Chicago taxpayers will spend nearly $5 million to compensate motorists denied due process after their vehicles were seized in connection with suspected drug-related offenses.
The City Council’s Finance Committee signed off on the $4.95 million settlement to resolve a class-action lawsuit filed in March 2015...
July 15, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Courts get creative to restart jury trials amid pandemic
It was New Mexico's first jury trial since the pandemic crippled the U.S. criminal justice system, and defense attorney Roberta Yurcic was nervous.
The court had erected a plexiglass panel on the defense table as a shield against the coronavirus, and Yurcic could communicate with her client by passing notes through a hole in the barrier. But the man charged with drug trafficking could not read or write, so she felt she had choice but to get close...
July 14, 2020 | Student Rights
Students may face suspension or expulsion for hosting parties, gatherings
Syracuse University students may face disciplinary action for holding social gatherings of more than 25 people, leaving the central New York area or not participating in mandated coronavirus testing during the fall semester, the university announced Tuesday.
In a “Stay Safe Pledge” released Tuesday, the university outlined the health behaviors it expects students to follow to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus this fall. Students who violate the guidelines could be referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities for a conduct violation even if they did not sign the pledge, said Rob Hradsky, vice president for the student experience, in a campus-wide email...
July 22, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Legal analysis: Is Trump stretching the law to deploy federal police power in cities?
WASHINGTON — The federal government has broad power to enforce the laws of the United States, but not to police the streets or maintain order in a city if protests lead to violence.
That has been how the separation of powers between states and the federal government has been understood. The Constitution leaves the “so-called police power” in the hands of state and local officials. It is one of the “powers not delegated the United States” and instead is “reserved to the states,” as the 10th Amendment says...
July 16, 2020 | Property Rights
Pompeo Says Human Rights Policy Must Prioritize Property Rights and Religion
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a divisive speech on Thursday calling for the United States to ground its human rights policy more prominently in religious liberty and property rights.
Mr. Pompeo’s speech, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, came as he announced the release of a report created by a panel he commissioned last year to suggest how American human rights policy could better reflect the “nation’s founding principles.”...
July 22, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Three More Wisconsin Cities To Require Masks In Most Public Spaces
Green Bay, Racine and Superior will soon be among the cities that require masks in businesses and many other public spaces.
All three cities passed ordinances Tuesday night, hours after state health officials announced a single-day record of 1,117 new coronavirus cases.
Green Bay's Common Council approved its ordinance 7 to 5, after several hours of debate. Most of the residents who spoke to the council ahead of the vote opposed the requirement, but Alder Barbara Dorff said the ordinance makes a number of exceptions that should address their concerns...
July 23, 2020 | Gun Rights
Bloomberg’s gun control group spends $15M on campaigns in eight swing states
Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control organization funded by Michael Bloomberg, announced Thursday it is spending $15 million on a digital ad campaign in eight swing states to help boost former Vice President Joe Biden and Democrats in competitive Senate races...
July 14, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Trump calls Confederate flag ‘freedom of speech,’ gives heated response on police brutality
President Trump said Saturday that the Confederate flag should be protected under the First Amendment and treated as freedom of speech, despite the intense backlash surrounding the symbol in recent months...
July 8, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Supreme Court says Trump administration can let religious employers deny birth control coverage under Obamacare
The Supreme Court on Wednesday voted 7-2 to uphold Trump administration rules to allow employers with sincere moral or religious objections to deny employees access to free contraceptive coverage.
The rules broadened a carve-out to the contraceptive coverage mandate included in the Affordable Care Act, the health-care overhaul commonly known as Obamacare. According to government estimates, the religious exemption would lead to possibly as many 125,000 women losing their coverage...
July 15, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Texas protesters defy governor’s order, host mostly maskless rally at bar
Texas protesters defied Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) executive order shutting down bars by hosting a mostly maskless rally at a club near Houston over the weekend.
Demonstrators gathered at Chuters Dance Hall & Saloon in Pasadena, Texas, Sunday night for a “Texas Bars Fight Back Rally” after nightclubs were ordered to close amid the state’s coronavirus outbreak, The Houston Chronicle reported...
July 13, 2020 | Federalism
Federal judge says Georgia’s heartbeat abortion bill is unconstitutional
A federal judge has ruled Georgia's heartbeat abortion bill is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. The law essentially banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but makes exceptions for rape, incest, and the mother's health.
July 13, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Oregon bans indoor gatherings of more than 10 people, requires face masks in outdoor crowds
PORTLAND, Ore — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown announced a ban on indoor gatherings of more than 10 people in an effort to slow the spread.
The new rule does not apply to businesses at this time, Brown said.
Oregon will also expand face mask requirements outdoors. Starting Wednesday, July 15, face coverings will be required outside if people cannot keep a distance of more than 6 feet away from others...
July 13, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
17 Memphis restaurants sue Shelby County and health department over latest order to close
More than a dozen restaurants in the Mid-South are suing the Shelby County government and the health department after they were forced to shut down in a new health directive issued last week. The order from the health department forced limited-service restaurants to close after a spike in coronavirus cases countywide...
July 10, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Supreme Court rejects Trump claim of ‘absolute immunity’ from grand jury subpoena for tax returns
In a history-making decision on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled President Donald Trump cannot claim "absolute immunity" from criminal investigation while in office and may need to comply with a New York grand jury subpoena seeking his personal financial records...
July 9, 2020 | Student Rights
Lawsuits Aim to Block DeVos’s New Sexual Misconduct Rules
WASHINGTON — Students, women’s rights and education groups are suing to block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s campus sexual assault rules from taking effect next month, with plaintiffs as young as 10 joining arguments that the rules will harm students and burden institutions...
July 8, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Supreme Court strengthens religious protection from discrimination lawsuits
The Supreme Court on Wednesday strengthened legal protections that shield religious institutions from job discrimination lawsuits.
It was the court's second ruling this term intended to expand religious freedom. In a previous 5-4 ruling along traditional ideological lines, the justices said states cannot exclude religiously affiliated schools from state scholarship programs, a decision that further lowered the wall of separation between church and state...
July 6, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Navy updates order after religious freedom complaint from law firm, chaplains
The Navy updated its coronavirus restrictions after chaplains and a religious liberty law firm complained last week alleging that service members were being unlawfully prohibited from attending indoor religious services...
July 3, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Facebook, Twitter, Google Face Free-Speech Test in Hong Kong
HONG KONG—U.S. technology titans face a looming test of their free-speech credentials in Hong Kong as China’s new national-security law for the city demands local authorities take measures to supervise and regulate its uncensored internet.
Facebook Inc. and its Instagram service, Twitter Inc. and YouTube, a unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, operate freely in the city even as they have been shut out or opted out of the mainland’s tightly controlled internet, which uses the “Great Firewall” to censor information...
July 6, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Police release video from fatal police shooting in Maryvale; protests continue
The Phoenix Police Department is under scrutiny again after the fatal shooting by officers of a 28-year-old man in west Phoenix on the Fourth of July.
A witness' video footage depicting the killing was shared widely on social media over the weekend, leading to community protests.
On Monday, police, citing false claims on social media, released a 911 call that led to the confrontation and a 44-second body-camera footage of an officer who appears on the scene after the shooting...
June 30, 2020 | Federalism
Virginia’s new laws on LGBT rights, guns and abortion reflect state’s political makeover.
RICHMOND — Restrictions on guns tighten in Virginia on Wednesday while those governing abortion, marijuana and voting loosen under a raft of laws adopted earlier this year in a newly blue state Capitol.
As the calendar flips to July, new laws will take effect around the Washington region, bumping up the minimum wage in the District, expanding community college tuition assistance in Maryland and, in Montgomery County, implementing a first-in-the-state ban on certain driveway sealants...
June 30, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Supreme Court Strikes Down Montana Ban on State Aid to Church Schools
WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that states can’t exclude church schools from programs benefiting their private, nonsectarian counterparts, bolstering a conservative drive to expand public support for religious education.
“A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by fellow conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
July 1, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Kentucky’s Casey’s Law, involuntary treatment for the addicted, is challenged as unconstitutional
The constitutionality of a Kentucky law that allows families and friends of people with addiction to ask a court to order their loved one into involuntary treatment is being challenged.
The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention, a Kentucky law since 2004, better known as Casey's Law, is facing the challenge in a sealed court case in the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is defending the law...
June 29, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Jury trials can resume in West Virginia’s court system
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Jury trials can resume in West Virginia's court system.
The state Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for trials to resume starting Monday. Guidance given to judicial officers on Friday outlined ways that judges and circuit clerks can protect health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic, the court said in a news release...
June 29, 2020 | Individual Liberties
ASU professor says public health protection trumps civil liberties
PHOENIX — In a legal battle between protecting public health and free speech, one Arizona State University professor thinks the former would win.
Some have argued and protested against mandates enforcing masks in public, that they violate the First Amendment and civil liberties...
June 26, 2020 | Student Rights
University of Michigan doesn’t owe students refunds for semester affected by coronavirus, lawyers argue
ANN ARBOR, MI — The University of Michigan said in a court filing this month that it doesn’t have to give refunds to students for switching to online classes in March because universities can choose how classes are taught.
In April, two UM students — Kliment Milanov and Trenten Ingell — filed a class-action lawsuit against the university seeking restitution for everyone who paid tuition for the winter 2020 semester, everyone who paid the costs of room and board for the winter semester and everyone who paid unspecified fees for or on behalf of students enrolled for the winter semester...
June 29, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Supreme Court leaves consumer regulator standing but backs president’s ability to fire director
The Supreme Court in a ruling Monday allowed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to continue operating, but said that the director of the watchdog can be removed by the president of the United States “at will.”
The decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, agreed with a California-based law firm’s argument that the CFPB’s leadership by a sole director who was removable “only for cause” violated the separation of powers rule under the U.S. Constitution...
June 23, 2020 | Gun Rights
Gun rights activists sue to block Virginia’s universal background checks law
Gun rights activists have filed another lawsuit challenging Virginia’s soon-to-become-law gun control measures, this time challenging expanded background checks.
The lawsuit from the Virginia Citizens Defense League and five other plaintiffs was filed late Monday afternoon in Lynchburg Circuit Court. It argues that the law, which is set to take effect July 1, violates residents’ constitutional rights by making them subject to background checks.
June 24, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
Afghan Media Ask Government to Scrap New Rules They Say Could Hurt Press Freedom
KABUL — Afghan media companies complained on Wednesday that changes to a media law would be a setback for independent journalism, ahead of a meeting with officials to press for the government to abandon the plans...
June 16, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Google bans website ZeroHedge from its ad platform over comments on protest articles
Google has banned ZeroHedge, a far-right website that often traffics in conspiracy theories, from its advertising platform over policy violations found in the comments section of stories about recent Black Lives Matter protests.
Google also issued a warning on Tuesday to The Federalist over comments on articles related to recent protests...
June 22, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
US religious freedom commission condemns Turkish operations in N. Iraq
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has condemned the air and ground operations of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) near civilian areas in northern Iraq, according to a press statement issued on June 19.
USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin said the commission had called on Turkey to immediately cease “its brutal airstrikes in Sinjar, Iraq and to withdraw any ground troops. … These actions are particularly threatening to hundreds of traumatized Yazidi families attempting to return to Sinjar and to other civilians in northern Iraq.”...
June 22, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Protesters, police clash in Lafayette Square after trying to tear down Andrew Jackson statue
WASHINGTON — Some protesters remained in the area of Black Lives Matter Plaza early Tuesday morning, deeming it an autonomous zone following the overnight attempt to remove the Andrew Jackson statue.
Protesters first gathered in Lafayette Square Monday evening outside the White House trying then to tear down the statue that was commissioned in 1847...
June 21, 2020 | Federalism
All eyes on Roberts ahead of Supreme Court’s abortion ruling
Chief Justice John Roberts is under the microscope as the Supreme Court prepares to issue its first major ruling on abortion rights in the Trump era, which will give the clearest indication yet of the court’s willingness to revisit protections that were first granted in Roe v. Wade.
The tie-breaking vote may rest with Roberts, and the case stands to test his role as the court’s new ideological center as well as his allegiance to past rulings...
June 18, 2020 | Individual Liberties
An original ‘Juneteenth’ order found in the National Archives
The National Archives on Thursday located what appears to be an original handwritten “Juneteenth” military order informing thousands of people held in bondage in Texas they were free.
The decree, in the ornate handwriting of a general’s aide, was found in a formal order book stored in the Archives headquarters building in Washington. It is dated June 19, 1865, and signed by Maj. F.W. Emery, on behalf of Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger...
June 16, 2020 | Citizen Juries
D.C. Residents With Felony Convictions Can Now Serve On Some Juries A Year After Release
When the D.C. Superior Court fully reopens for trials once the coronavirus crisis has subsided, the court will have a broader pool of jurors to call on than in the past, thanks to new changes to its jury policies...
June 15, 2020 | Student Rights
Supreme Court Expansion of Transgender Rights Undercuts Trump Restrictions
The Trump administration’s socially conservative agenda has included a broad-based effort to eliminate transgender rights across the government, in education, housing, the military and, as recently as Friday, health care.
The Supreme Court most likely upended it on Monday...
June 18, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Supreme Court rules against Trump administration bid to end DACA program
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday against the Trump administration’s effort to end the Obama-era program that offers legal protections to young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
The court ruled that the administration's decision to rescind the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which sets out rulemaking procedures for federal agencies...
June 17, 2020 | Property Rights
Coronavirus brings an outbreak of trademark applications
The worst pandemic in modern memory has inspired a massive effort to harness intellectual property rights.
More than 1,500 trademark applications have been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for variations on the COVID-19 and coronavirus theme...
June 15, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Justices rule LGBT people protected from job discrimination
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment, a resounding victory for LGBT rights from a conservative court.
The court decided by a 6-3 vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against LGBT workers...
June 15, 2020 | Gun Rights
Supreme Court decides not to hear big gun-rights cases, dealing blow to Second Amendment activists
The Supreme Court on Monday said it will not hear appeals of a slew of cases involving gun laws, dealing a blow to Second Amendment activists who seek to expand the rights of gun owners.
In an order released Monday morning, the court denied petitions for appeals of 10 cases.
June 15, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
‘Facebook doesn’t care’: Activists say accounts removed despite Zuckerberg’s free-speech stance
Mark Zuckerberg has championed Facebook’s commitment to free speech as a reason not to act on incendiary posts from President Donald Trump about the Black Lives Matter protests.
It's a standard that activists and journalists in the Middle East wish extended to their accounts...
June 15, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Conservative Christians See ‘Seismic Implications’ in Supreme Court Ruling
WASHINGTON — For conservative Christian groups, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling protecting the rights of gay and transgender workers was not only the latest sign that they are losing the American culture wars over sexuality. It also caused widespread concern that it could affect how they operate their own institutions...
June 16, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Unrest at protests in 3 states leads to a shooting in Albuquerque and arrests elsewhere
Protests against police brutality in the US remained mostly peaceful Monday night, though demonstrations in three states ended in chaos, with a shooting, arrests and the closure of one city's downtown...
June 8, 2020 | Federalism
Amidst budget concerns in Kansas, advocates push for medical marijuana legalization
According to the Kansas Division of Budget, the state is expecting to face a $653 million shortfall in fiscal year 2021, including a projected $1.3 billion loss in tax revenue.
Proponents of legalizing marijuana in the state say marijuana sales tax revenue could help, KSNT reports.
“With a budget that’s just absolutely destroyed in the state of Kansas, it would be something that would very much help with multiple different things,” said J. Andrew Ericson Sr., president of the Kansas Cannabis Business Association.
June 9, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Confederate Vance Monument debate reignited amid George Floyd protests
A Confederate monument memorializing Zebulon Baird Vance towers 65 feet over Park Square in downtown Asheville.
The Buncombe County native it honors was North Carolina's governor during the Civil War, a slave owner and a documented racist. For years, people have debated whether a tribute to him should hold such a prominent place in Asheville. Several ideas have been floated, ranging from providing historic contextualization at the monument to outright removal.
June 10, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Remote Court Proceedings Useful in Emergencies, Lawyers Say
U.S. federal courts should loosen rules requiring live testimony and hearings in the event of another national emergency, attorneys told the federal judiciary in recently submitted comments.
Federal rules governing civil and criminal practice that restrict remote proceedings have been a hindrance for lawyers during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the event of another outbreak, attorneys said, there should be clearer language that trials and testimony in civil cases and certain criminal proceedings can be conducted through remote means.
June 9, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Does law enforcement need a citizen review board?
As protest continues across the country, many are demanding reforms in law enforcement. Some are demanding the creation of Citizen Review Board.
Recently Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway told a group he was open for a discussion on a Citizens Review Board. He had heard it works well in some areas, but others in law enforcement are very suspicious of how such a board would work and operate.
People have taken to the streets in protests over the death of George Floyd in custody of a Minneapolis police officer. Review boards can work according to the Chairman of the UAB department of Criminal Justice.
June 5, 2020 | Student Rights
Blind student files federal discrimination lawsuit against Duke University
Before Mary Fernandez enrolled at Duke University, she was assured she would be provided the accommodations for an equal education to her peers who aren’t blind.
Despite that assurance, Fernandez experienced barriers that permeated every aspect of her educational experience at Duke, according to a news release about a new federal lawsuit against the university...
June 9, 2020 | Separation of Powers
New bill would reopen gyms and bars, governor hints at a veto
RALEIGH — The North Carolina Senate plans to vote Tuesday, June 9, on legislation that would reopen gyms, bars, and expand in-person dining at restaurants. Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, tweaked existing and vetoed legislation so that Gov. Roy Cooper would sign it.
Cooper on Friday vetoed H.B. 536, which would have reopened private bars and clubs, as well as expanded outdoor seating in restaurants and brewpubs. The governor hinted at a Monday news briefing he wouldn’t let the tweaked legislation become law...
May 29, 2020 | Property Rights
Tennessee House committee advances civil asset forfeiture reform
(The Center Square) – A Tennessee House committee advanced legislation that would eliminate the requirement that someone post a $350 bond to appeal the seizure of assets seized via civil asset forfeiture.
Tennessee law permits police to seize money or assets if they have a preponderance of evidence that it was associated with criminal activity. Although money or assets can be taken without charging someone with a crime or giving that person a trial, current law requires a person post a $350 bond to appeal the seizure. Tennessee is one of three states with such a requirement.
May 29, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Missouri’s last abortion clinic will stay open after ruling ends contentious year-long legal battle
Missouri has narrowly avoided a return to a time before Roe v. Wade after an independent arbiter ruled that its last operating abortion clinic can continue offering the procedure.
June 1, 2020 | Gun Rights
Gun Cases Could Prompt Supreme Court to Bolster Second Amendment
The U.S. Supreme Court could act as soon as Monday on an array of calls to consider expanding gun rights, including appeals that seek a nationwide right to carry a handgun in public.
June 1, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
As U.S. Journalists Endure Assault And Arrests During Protests, Media Coalition Releases List Of ‘10 Most Urgent’ Press Freedom Cases Worldwide
Law enforcement officials have arrested and deliberately targeted journalists with rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray during recent protests held across the United States. These members of the press have been reporting on the protests, unrest and violence following the death of George Floyd caused by a Minneapolis police officer and more generally racism and injustice exhibited against the African American community...
May 27, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Twitter, other tech giants defeat free speech and censorship lawsuit by right-wing activist
Twitter and several other social media giants defeated a lawsuit by right-wing activist Laura Loomer and the conservative group Freedom Watch in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, in a case that highlighted Republican frustrations with what they perceive as pervasive online censorship -- and the challenges they face in doing something about it...
May 20, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
DOJ To Governor Newsom: Closing Churches Violates Religious Freedom
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Department of Justice sent a letter to Governor Newsom, telling him to open up places of worship now. The letter says not doing so violates the First Amendment...
May 28, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
‘We have to arm ourselves’: Black Michigan demonstrators protest brutality
Lansing — After a series of events where mostly white protesters carried guns at the Michigan Capitol and drew national attention, a group of armed black demonstrators hoped Thursday to send their own message.
"I want to present myself as an adult black man, fully armed and not a danger," said Stephen Alexander, 46, of Lansing, who carried a pistol outside the Capitol building during the event. "If you are not a danger to me, I am not dangerous...
May 13, 2020 | Federalism
Supreme Court Weighs Whether Electoral College Members Must Stick to State’s Popular Vote
WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court set out to clarify the nation’s age-old rules for the Electoral College system of selecting U.S. presidents, considering whether presidential electors can go rogue and ignore the voter-chosen candidate...
May 15, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
ACLU sues Betsy DeVos over new rules on campus sexual harassment and assault
The American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over the department's new federal regulations on how sexual assault and harassment allegations should be handled on school campuses. The lawsuit, filed Thursday, claims the changes will result in fewer institutions "taking much-needed affirmative steps to prevent sexual harassment and assault before it happens."...
May 18, 2020 | Citizen Juries
A court in Texas is holding the first jury trial by Zoom
A court in Texas is holding the first jury trial on Zoom. The news comes as court systems across the country face a choice between postponing trials until the pandemic ends or holding remote proceedings.
The case in Texas is an insurance dispute in the Collin County District, as reported by Reuters. Judge Emily Miskel live-streamed the jury selection process via her YouTube channel on Monday morning...
May 2, 2020 | Student Rights
UMN students sue the University over fee usage
A group of University of Minnesota students filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Board of Regents on Thursday for using student service fees to provide spaces for certain student groups in Coffman Union.
The group Viewpoint Neutrality Now!, along with students Evan Smith and Isaac Smith, claim the use of student fees to provide nine student cultural centers on the second floor of the Coffman Union with subsidized space is unconstitutional according to the First Amendment, per their attorney, Erick Kaardal.
May 4, 2020 | Separation of Powers
NJ Gov. Murphy vetoes funding bills, warns of ‘fiscal disaster’
NEW JERSEY — Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed on Monday a number of bills passed by the state Legislature as a “fiscal disaster” looms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the eight bills vetoed was a measure to provide equipment and expand access to technology for students in certain districts as the state moves forward with remote learning for the remainder of the academic year...
May 2, 2020 | Property Rights
Report: Kansas Law Enforcement Seized $3.35M in Property
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas law enforcement agencies seized more than $3.35 million in property during a six-month period last year, disproportionately from young black and Hispanic male drivers...
April 29, 2020 | Gun Rights
After sidestepping ruling on gun rights, Supreme Court win for gun control groups could be temporary
When the Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a dispute over since-changed New York City rules restricting the transport of handguns, it avoided issuing a major decision on the scope of the Second Amendment, handing a victory to gun control groups that advocate for stricter rules on firearms...
April 28, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
Authoritarian governments crack down on press freedoms amid COVID-19 pandemic: Report
The novel coronavirus is compounding preexisting threats to press freedoms around the world, according to a new report by the international watchdog organization Reporters Without Borders.
“The coronavirus pandemic illustrates the negative factors threatening the right to reliable information, with the pandemic itself an exacerbating factor,” Christophe Deloire, the organization’s secretary-general, wrote in the report...
April 29, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
U.S. judge strikes down prohibitions on political speech for 1,100 federal court workers
A U.S. judge Wednesday prohibited an administrative agency for the federal judiciary from barring its 1,100 employees from engaging in virtually all forms of partisan political activity outside the workplace. The judge called the ban an excessive effort to protect courts from “hyper-partisanship” and attacks from members of Congress.
April 28, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Religious freedom watchdog pitches adding India to blacklist
NEW YORK — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is urging that the State Department add India to its list of nations with uniquely poor records on protecting freedom to worship — while proposing to remove Sudan and Uzbekistan from that list.
April 27, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Republican firefight kicks off as protesters target GOP govs over closures
Republican governors are facing a new challenge as they fight to stop the spread of coronavirus: pressure from their own right flanks.
While the biggest protests calling for an end to stay-at-home orders and business restrictions have hit Democratic governors, conservative activists and groups are intensifying pressure on GOP governors they say are being too deliberative as their economies stagger and jobless rates spiral — part of a hyperaggressive effort on the right to reshape the debate over the financial ravages of Covid-19...
April 25, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Coronavirus-related business closing debate takes on political overtones
The mandatory closing of small businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic took on political overtones locally this past week, with a brouhaha over the shutdown, then reopening, of a Melbourne business called The Funky Mermaid Market.
The issue came to the public's attention with an April 17 Facebook post by Melbourne Vice Mayor and District 5 City Council Member Paul Alfrey.
April 20, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Supreme Court: Criminal juries must be unanimous to convict
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that juries in state criminal trials must be unanimous to convict a defendant, settling a quirk of constitutional law that had allowed divided votes to result in convictions in Louisiana and Oregon.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court that the practice is inconsistent with the Constitution's right to a jury trial and that it should be discarded as a vestige of Jim Crow laws in Louisiana and racial, ethnic and religious bigotry that led to its adoption in Oregon in the 1930s...
April 23, 2020 | Student Rights
Detroit students have the right to an education, federal appeals court rules
American children have a fundamental right to at least a basic education, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
In a ruling legal scholars said could affect disadvantaged children across the country, Sixth Circuit Court Judge Eric Clay wrote in an opinion siding with a group of Detroit students in their suit against the state of Michigan that education “is essential to nearly every interaction between a citizen and her government.”...
April 24, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Michigan Senate passes bills to curb Whitmer’s emergency powers; created government COVID-19 oversight committee
(The Center Square) – The Senate passed two bills by a 22-15 vote Friday that would curb Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers, but she’s vowed a veto.
Tempers flared at the Capitol as parties traded partisan accusations...
April 15, 2020 | Property Rights
Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer’s new stay-at-home restrictions spark fierce backlash
Michigan residents are calling Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) new restrictive stay-at-home measures into question as the state reckons with mounting coronavirus cases.
The new stay-at-home mandate, which Whitmer signed last week, includes prohibiting state residents to travel to in-state vacation homes, closing store areas that sell goods like carpets, flooring, furniture, garden centers and paint, prohibiting the advertising of goods that “are not groceries, medical supplies, or items that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and basic operation of residences,” among other restrictions...
April 17, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Not Every New Yorker is on Board with Cuomo’s Mask Mandate
NEW YORK - For many New Yorkers, wearing a face mask when out in public is something they already do voluntarily.
But when they’re jogging it’s usually mask-less...
April 10, 2020 | Gun Rights
Gun-Rights Groups Sue Massachusetts Over Gun Store Shutdowns
A collection of gun-rights groups filed a federal suit on Thursday against Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker (R.) challenging his order to close gun stores.
The gun-rights activists said the governor's shutdown order violates the Second Amendment by effectively banning the lawful purchase of guns and ammunition in the state. They asked the United States District Court for Massachusetts to strike down the order and allow gun stores to reopen...
April 14, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
Australian court says raid at heart of press freedom row unlawful
Australia's High Court ruled on Wednesday that a warrant used by police to search a journalist's home was unlawful but declined to order seized material destroyed, in a decision that received qualified praise from press freedom advocates.
The seven-member bench unanimously ruled that the warrant to search the home of News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst in June 2019 was invalid and that the police search and seizure of data from her phone and laptop were unlawful...
April 15, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Do coronavirus social distancing orders violate religious freedom? Local pastors say yes
On Easter Sunday at a church in Fontana, a pastor delivered a fiery sermon to worshipers who crowded the pews in defiance of government orders prohibiting in-person services even on this holiest of days.
The next day, the pastor, Patrick Scales of the Shield of Faith Family Church, filed a lawsuit contesting the stay-at-home orders as a violation of 1st Amendment religious freedom...
April 16, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
‘You Have to Disobey’: Protesters Gather to Defy Stay-At-Home Orders
As President Trump and some of his supporters push for a more rapid return to pre-coronavirus economic activity, protesters in several states took to the streets this week to urge governors to relax the strict rules on commerce, work and daily life that health officials have said are necessary to save lives...
April 10, 2020 | Federalism
The 115-year-old Supreme Court opinion that could determine rights during a pandemic
When a US appeals court ruled this week that Texas could prevent physicians from performing abortions because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the judges leaned heavily on a 1905 Supreme Court decision against a Massachusetts man who had refused vaccination during a smallpox outbreak.
That case could be invoked more in the months ahead. It is the high court's touchstone for state power during public health crises. But it is a decision with limits. The 1905 court warned against "arbitrary" or "oppressive" regulation and expressly connected mandatory vaccination to ending the spread of smallpox...
April 10, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Apple, Google debut major effort to help people track if they’ve come in contact with coronavirus
Apple and Google unveiled an ambitious effort Friday to help combat coronavirus, introducing new tools that could soon allow owners of smartphones to know if they have crossed paths with someone infected with the disease.
The changes the two companies announced targeting iPhone and Android devices could inject valuable new technological support into contact tracing, a strategy public-health officials say is essential to allowing people to return to work and normal life while containing the spread of the pandemic...
April 9, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Washington Supreme Court: No minimum wage for jurors
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Supreme Court says people are not entitled to make minimum wage for jury duty.
Three citizens who reported for jury duty or who served on juries filed a class-action lawsuit against King County, challenging their $10-a-day pay...
April 8, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Harris County judges, ACLU sue Greg Abbott over order limiting jail releases during pandemic
Gov. Greg Abbott’s order restricting the release of some jail inmates during the new coronavirus pandemic is facing a second court challenge arguing his order violates the constitutional separation of powers and discriminates against poor criminal defendants.
Harris County’s misdemeanor judges, criminal defense organizations and the NAACP of Texas sued Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday in Travis County district court. The plaintiffs are represented in part by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Fair Defense Project...
April 7, 2020 | Property Rights
Oceanfront landowners say Florida county’s beach ban violates property rights
(The Center Square) – Oceanfront landowners are demanding a federal judge block a Walton County ordinance that made all beaches off-limits, claiming the restriction does not legally apply to private property.
Arguing they are being prevented from using their backyards, the property owners filed the lawsuit and a request for an injunction Monday in federal court in Pensacola.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shut down beaches in three south Florida counties by executive order nearly two weeks ago, but his April 1 statewide stay-at-home directive did not shut down all state beaches, leaving that to local discretion...
April 7, 2020 | Individual Liberties
A ‘Liberty’ Rebellion in Idaho Threatens to Undermine Coronavirus Orders
SANDPOINT, Idaho — Inside an old factory building north of Boise, a few dozen people gathered last week to hear from Ammon Bundy, the man who once led an armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.
The meeting, which appeared to violate orders by Gov. Brad Little of Idaho to avoid group gatherings, was an assertion of what Mr. Bundy said was a constitutional right to peacefully assemble. But Mr. Bundy said he also hoped to create a network of people ready to come to the aid of those facing closure of their businesses or other interference from the government as a result of the coronavirus outbreak...
April 7, 2020 | Gun Rights
Buckling to pressure, many states deem gun stores ‘essential,’ allow them to remain open during pandemic
What's considered "essential?" Food, prescription drugs, sometimes liquor — and, in most states, firearms.
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, 42 states have issued some form of a stay-at-home order, mandating that nearly all nonessential businesses close. Gun retailers in at least 30 of those states, however, have been allowed to stay open amid pushback from gun groups and the federal government...
April 5, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
Journalists threatened and detained as countries on multiple continents restrict coronavirus coverage
When a flu-like virus tore through the world, killing tens of millions and infecting far more, the papers in Europe told readers of "Spanish flu." King Alfonso XIII of Spain was one of many stricken, they reported in 1918. What they didn't say was that their own populations were being decimated, too.
It was the largest pandemic in modern history, but due to wartime censorship in many European countries, few citizens would know it at first. Only Spain, a nation neutral in the fight, allowed its press to work largely uncensored, and so it was that stories of the contagion spread too...
April 1, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Law banning public worker picketing violates free speech, Missouri Supreme Court says
JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Supreme Court has dealt a blow to a controversial 2018 labor law restricting public employees’ right to picket.
In a unanimous decision issued Tuesday, the high court upheld a lower court ruling that struck down the picketing restriction. The statute in question requires labor agreements between unions and public bodies to prohibit any kind of picketing...
April 2, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Church vs. coronavirus: California pastor says stay-at-home orders violate freedom of religion
LODI, Calif. - The pastor of a church in central California is holding services and has no plans to stop, despite a stay-at-home order issued by the governor and the fact that other religious leaders have gotten arrested for doing the same.
That's also despite a report in the Sacramento Bee that nearly one third of Sacramento County’s coronavirus cases are connected to churches, which has prompted alarmed county officials to issue a special plea for congregations to stop holding services and prayer groups as Easter is approaching next weekend...
April 2, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Nurses in multiple states to protest over ‘lack of preparedness’
Nurses at hospitals in multiple states are protesting what they describe as one of the nation's largest hospital chains' "lack of preparedness" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Nurses Union, which represents 10,000 registered nurses at 19 hospitals managed by HCA Healthcare in California, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada and Texas, is demanding that the hospital chain provide optimal personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses and other staff...
March 30, 2020 | Federalism
Right to travel across state lines under scrutiny due to coronavirus
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Streets are far emptier than normal in cities and towns across America. It’s the most visual example of how the coronavirus is impacting daily life.
At the root of that: orders to stay home.
“The authority lies with the governor and in a number of jurisdictions that authority can also be devolved down to mayors,” said Meryl Chertoff, executive director of Georgetown Law’s Project on State and Local Government Policy and Law...
April 1, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Umatilla County Suspends Habeas Corpus Hearings Over Coronavirus Concerns
Umatilla County has canceled all habeas corpus hearings and trials until June. It’s the latest step taken by government officials to limit coronavirus contagion by avoiding gatherings of people.
The right of “habeas corpus” – meaning “have the body” – allows inmates to challenge or modify their detention on certain bases...
March 30, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Court: Grand jury records from lynching can’t be released
ATLANTA (AP) — The grand jury records from the 1946 lynching of two black couples in Georgia cannot be released despite their great historical significance, a federal appeals court said.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled 8-4 that federal judges don't have authority to disclose grand jury records for reasons other than those provided for in the rules governing grand jury secrecy...
March 24, 2020 | Student Rights
University of Michigan violated student’s ‘clearly established constitutional rights,’ judge says in ruling on sexual misconduct policy
ANN ARBOR, MI - A federal judge has determined the University of Michigan’s former sexual misconduct policy was unconstitutional, ordering that a student accused of sexual misconduct is entitled to a live hearing with the opportunity to cross-examine his accuser...
March 27, 2020 | Separation of Powers
House rushes back to Washington to try to pass $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill
House members are scrambling back to the Capitol on Friday morning as one member’s opposition to a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package threatens to delay its passage.
With few representatives in Washington this week as the outbreak tears across the country, the House hoped to approve the legislation quickly Friday without a recorded vote. But after Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., indicated he would oppose the bill, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office advised members Thursday night “that it is possible this measure will not pass by voice vote.”...
March 26, 2020 | Property Rights
Can Philly use eminent domain to take over Hahnemann hospital for coronavirus patients?
As Philadelphia officials negotiate to use the former Hahnemann University Hospital as quarantine or isolation space during the coronavirus pandemic, City Councilmember Helen Gym is calling for the city to consider seizing the property by eminent domain.
“My belief is that the city has the right to exercise some authority here and should be exploring all possible options,” Gym said Wednesday...
March 26, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Use of surveillance to fight coronavirus raises concerns about government power after pandemic ends
From Israel to South Korea to China, governments around the world are using technology to track the coronavirus outbreak as they race to stem its spread. But how long will it last and is this an infringement of privacy, rights groups have asked.
In China, government-installed CCTV cameras point at the apartment door of those under a 14-day quarantine to ensure they don’t leave. Drones tell people to wear their masks. Digital barcodes on mobile apps highlight the health status of individuals...
March 23, 2020 | Gun Rights
Gun-rights coalition sues New Jersey governor for closing gun dealers during coronavirus pandemic
A coalition of gun-rights activists Monday filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy for closing gun stores and suspending legally required background checks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit charges that Mr. Murphy’s actions violate the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms...
March 25, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
COVID-19 is spawning a global press-freedom crackdown
IN HIS REMARKS TO THE MEDIA and the public, World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom has regularly emphasized that accurate, timely information is essential to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet around the world, governments are cracking down on journalists and implementing sweeping restrictions under the guise of combating misinformation and “fake news.”...
March 27, 2020 | Federalism
COVID-19 Action Tracker
AEI is committed to tracking state level mitigation strategies for COVID-19. Please see the map below to see individual state responses. Maps are updated daily.
March 19, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Freedom-of-speech restrictions could worsen coronavirus crisis: Watchdog
An independent democracy advocacy organization is warning that authoritarian regimes are using the global coronavirus outbreak to suppress freedoms of speech and restrict fundamental rights outside of the scope of public health needs.
The nonpartisan Washington-based Freedom House said in a statement Thursday that they have observed “concerning signs” of efforts to increase surveillance and downplay failing responses to contain the spread of COVID-19 that could worsen the spread of the virus...
March 19, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Coronavirus gathering bans raise religious freedom questions
NEW YORK (AP) — On the first Sunday after the coronavirus began upending American life, some religious institutions – including two churches whose pastors are close to President Donald Trump – held in-person services amid public health worries over the pandemic. That picture already looks different this week...
March 20, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Hundreds of Israelis Protest Netanyahu’s Strict Measures
JERUSALEM — Hundreds of Israelis mounted a protest convoy on a main highway into Jerusalem on Thursday, demonstrating against what they called antidemocratic measures by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies that they said were taking the country down a path to dictatorship...
March 19, 2020 | Federalism
‘There have been a lot of tears’: Coronavirus threatens to shut schools until the fall
Skyler Buie, 17, wasn't all that interested in going to the prom at his high school in Gardner, Kansas. But graduation?
"It's a special thing that only really happens once," the senior at Gardner Edgerton High School said, "and now we don't get to experience it."...
March 17, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Coronavirus Latest: Philadelphia Police Department Modifying Arrest Procedures Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Police Department is changing its arresting procedures amid the coroanvirus outbreak. The department said Tuesday that officers will arrest people, process them and let them go for certain non-violent offenses...
March 15, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Delaware suspends all jury trials amid coronavirus fears
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — All civil and criminal jury trials in Delaware have been suspended until April 15 under an order aimed at protecting jurors, lawyer, judges and court staff from coronavirus.
The order was issued Sunday by Judge Jan Jurden, president judge of Superior Court in Delaware. It says anyone who has been summoned for jury duty is excused and should not report to court. The grand jury and other court proceedings that involve smaller groups of people will continue...
March 11, 2020 | Student Rights
When Should Schools Close For Coronavirus?
The spread of coronavirus has compelled hundreds of K-12 schools in the U.S. to close, affecting more than 850,000 students, according to an analysis by Education Week. And those numbers are certain to increase in the coming days, as concerned parents call for more school closures.
The growing health crisis presents school leaders with a painful choice. Closing schools — as has been done, so far, in China, Japan, Italy and elsewhere — is a proven measure that has been shown to slow the spread of disease and, in turn, save lives. But it also causes huge economic and social disruption, especially for children, millions of whom depend on the free and reduced-cost meals they get at school...
March 11, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Sen. Mike Lee urges Trump to veto House FISA bill
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Wednesday that he’ll do all he can to block the House's legislation to reform surveillance laws and is pushing President Donald Trump to veto it.
Lee’s move could sink efforts to renew provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which are expiring March 15. Lee and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are pushing for several changes to the law not currently included in the House’s version...
March 11, 2020 | Property Rights
Trump Administration Presses Cities to Evict Homeowners From Flood Zones
WASHINGTON — The federal government is giving local officials nationwide a painful choice: Agree to use eminent domain to force people out of flood-prone homes, or forfeit a shot at federal money they need to combat climate change...
March 11, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Your legal rights in a quarantine, explained
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Tuesday that the state would create a “containment area” in the city of New Rochelle, hoping to contain the spread of Covid-19, the coronavirus disease. The epicenter of this area is a synagogue believed to be connected to several cases of the disease. For now, the state plans to close gathering spaces near the synagogue.
It is unclear if New York or some other state will resort to more serious measures, such as mandatory quarantines. But can the government quarantine someone against their will?
March 11, 2020 | Gun Rights
Gun rights supporters sue Connecticut over 10-bullet max law
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gun rights supporters are suing Connecticut officials over the state’s 2013 ban on high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday cites the Second Amendment right to bear arms and the ability of people to better defend themselves with more bullets in their guns...
March 11, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
How much freedom of speech can your license plate have? New suit could decide
After an honorable discharge following four oversea tours, Paul Ogilvie bought a car and wanted to combine two of his nicknames to create a personalized license plate.
He decided on “OGWOOLF,” a combination of his military nickname, using the first two letters of his last name and “woolf,” an online screen name he’s used since 1999...
March 7, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
A Quebec Ban on Religious Symbols Upends Lives and Careers
MONTREAL — A Muslim lawyer who wears a head scarf has put aside her aspiration to become a public prosecutor.
A Sikh teacher with a turban moved about 2,800 miles from Quebec to Vancouver, calling herself a “refugee in her own country.”
And an Orthodox Jewish teacher who wears a head kerchief is worried that she could be blocked from a promotion...
March 11, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Police shooting of 26-year-old man sparks protests in North Carolina
An officer's shooting of a 26-year-old man in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday night sparked protests and a claim by police that misinformation about the incident was spreading online.
An officer shot Javier Torres in the abdomen by around 6:45 p.m. after police got a 911 call about a man with a gun, authorities said...
March 12, 2020 | Federalism
As Missouri Clinic Awaits Its Legal Fate, Abortions In State Have Virtually Halted
Missouri could soon become the first state in the nation without a clinic providing abortions, but Planned Parenthood officials say the last remaining one there has already all-but ceased performing the procedure.
The clinic, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, is at the center of a licensing dispute between the organization and Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson's administration. That clinic's future is in the hands of a state commission that is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks or months...
March 10, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Gabbard slams ‘the DNC and their corporate media partners’ for shutting her out of next debate
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) slammed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and "their corporate media partners" on Tuesday for not allowing her to participate in next week's debate that is slated to feature former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
The pushback from Gabbard comes after the DNC announced new qualifying standards on Friday for the March 15 Arizona debate that will be broadcasted on CNN and Univision...
March 11, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Harvey Weinstein breaks courtroom silence, claims “men are losing due process” as he is sentenced
Harvey Weinstein pleaded for mercy and attempted to explain himself before he was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison, breaking the silence he maintained in the Manhattan courtroom throughout his trial. After two of his accusers confronted him again, arguing his punishment in the landmark #MeToo rape case was long overdue, the 67-year-old former Hollywood mogul had a chance to make his statement to the judge...
March 10, 2020 | Citizen Juries
House Can See Mueller’s Secret Grand Jury Evidence, Appeals Court Rules
WASHINGTON — The House has a right to see secret grand-jury evidence gathered in the Russia investigation, an appeals court ruled on Tuesday in a victory for Congress’s power to gather information for an impeachment inquiry...
March 2, 2020 | Student Rights
Catholic school ‘blatantly’ violated fragile student’s rights by expelling instead of helping her, parents claim in lawsuit
A Harrisburg-area Roman Catholic school violated the civil rights of a teenage student by expelling her over her mental health and emotional issues, the girl’s parents claim in a newly-filed federal lawsuit.
Leaders of the Saint Margaret Mary School “disenrolled” the girl after claiming the school lacked the programs to support her needs, the complaint filed in U.S. Middle District Court states...
March 4, 2020 | Separation of Powers
State tells high court Flint suit would violate ‘separation of powers’
Lansing — The state of Michigan argued Wednesday that a class action lawsuit filed by Flint residents should not continue because the state had no official policy or deliberate aim to contaminate the drinking water of residents with lead.
Assistant Attorney General Nathan Gambill told the state's Supreme Court justices that the remedy Flint residents are requesting — one that is decided by the judiciary — violates the separation of powers doctrine. It also ignores the various aid residents have received from the Legislature and are likely to receive from other litigation, he said...
March 4, 2020 | Property Rights
Bill Would Halt Civil Forfeiture Until Conviction in Georgia
A bill proposed in the Georgia legislature would halt civil asset forfeiture proceedings until the conclusion of any criminal proceedings.
Civil forfeiture is a court process that enables a government entity to seize property and other assets belonging to individuals suspected of committing a crime...
March 3, 2020 | Gun Rights
Joe Biden promises to put Beto O’Rourke in charge of gun control
Moments after former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke — who promised in a September debate to take away legally purchased assault rifles if elected — endorsed Joe Biden’s White House run, the former vice president promised to name the Texan as his point man on gun control...
March 2, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
These Are the 10 ‘Most Urgent’ Threats to Press Freedom in March 2020
When Chinese authorities announced a lockdown on the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late January in an attempt to halt the spread of a deadly virus, millions of people fled the city, eager to escape before the enforced quarantine began...
March 4, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Judge rejects Tulsi Gabbard’s ‘free speech’ lawsuit against Google
Last July, Hawaii representative and longshot Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of violating her First Amendment rights to free speech when it briefly suspended her campaign's ad account. On Wednesday, California's Central District Court rejected the suit outright...
March 5, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Kentucky High School Removes Bible Verse After Atheist Group Complains
A school district in Whitesburg, Kentucky, removed several religious displays — including a Bible verse emblazoned on the wall of a high school locker room — after an atheist group complained. That group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote about it in a blog post this week. According to the organization, they were contacted by a resident who voiced concerns about Letcher County Public Schools following "multiple instances of the district promoting and endorsing religious messages."...
March 5, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Anti-protest bill wins Utah Senate OK
Protesters repeatedly found guilty of disrupting public meetings would face stiffer penalties under a bill that passed the Utah Senate on Thursday.
The proposal cleared the Senate by a unanimous vote after a couple Democratic lawmakers questioned its sponsor, Sen. Don Ipson, about whether it would have a chilling effect on public expression or put officials at risk of being sued for restricting speech...
March 3, 2020 | Federalism
Supreme Court Gives States Greater Rights to Prosecute Undocumented Immigrants
WASHINGTON—A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday boosted the ability of states to prosecute undocumented immigrants for identity theft when they provide false Social Security numbers or other information on job applications.
The court, in a 5-4 opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, reinstated convictions obtained by Kansas prosecutors against three restaurant workers for using other people’s Social Security numbers on forms given to their employers...
March 4, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Here’s Why Health Experts Want to Stop Daylight-Saving Time
Early Sunday morning, most people in America will spring forward and move their clocks one hour ahead to daylight-saving time.
It is good news for those who enjoy more daylight in the evening. But experts say a growing body of evidence shows that the annual time shift is bad for our health, disrupting our circadian rhythms and sleep and leading to a higher immediate risk of heart attacks, strokes, atrial fibrillation and potentially car accidents...
March 2, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Quandary for 2020 Democrats: Which Criminal Justice Changes Get Priority?
The very premise of the questionnaire would have been nonsensical a few years ago: that a presidential candidate might propose criminal justice overhauls so sweeping that it would become reasonable to ask them to prioritize.
Welcome to 2020, featuring an entire Democratic field that wants to reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, divert low-level offenders from jail, end or at least modify the cash bail system, change drug laws and remove an array of legal barriers that restrict people’s lives after they have served their time...
March 5, 2020 | Citizen Juries
2 Jurors Voted to Spare His Life. Alabama Is Set to Execute Him.
ATLANTA — Nathaniel Woods never pulled the trigger, but prosecutors said he was just as guilty as the man who did. He had been a mastermind, prosecutors said, luring police officers in Birmingham, Ala., into a house where three of them were killed.
Now, condemned to death row, Mr. Woods is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, as his supporters argue that the case against him was deeply flawed, and that no evidence existed of a plot to ambush the officers...
February 26, 2020 | Student Rights
Justice Department argues Harvard’s use of race in admissions violates civil rights law
The Trump administration is arguing that Harvard University discriminates unlawfully against Asian Americans when choosing an undergraduate class, siding this week with a group that challenged the Ivy League school’s admissions process through a lawsuit pending in a federal appellate court...
February 25, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Supreme Court Rules Border Patrol Agents Who Shoot Foreign Nationals Can’t Be Sued
There's no dispute on whether Jesus Mesa Jr. killed 15-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca.
He did. And there's a video of it.
In 2010 Mesa, an on-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent who was at the border in El Paso, Texas, shot Hernández at least twice — once in the face. At the time, the boy, a Mexican national, was on the southern side of the border in Ciudad Juarez...
February 25, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Vaccine debate ramps up one week before vote
PORTLAND (WGME) – CBS 13 saw an incredible response from Monday night’s town hall debate on whether to keep or repeal Maine's new vaccination law.
It's a hot topic that voters will be deciding on in one week.
A "Yes" vote on Question 1 would repeal that new law, and keep religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccines.
February 26, 2020 | Gun Rights
Virginia Senate advances two proposed gun control measures
The Virginia Senate has advanced two pieces of Gov. Ralph Northam's proposed gun-control measures after previously rejecting them.
The Senate voted Wednesday to advance legislation that would require gun owners to report to police any lost or stolen firearms and to toughen the penalty for leaving a loaded, unsecured firearm in a reckless manner that endangers a child...
February 26, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
AG William Barr laments ‘massively consolidated’ mainstream press; claims journalists now ‘less objective’
Attorney General William Barr, the focus of intense public scrutiny for revising a stiff sentencing recommendation for longtime GOP operative Roger Stone, took aim at the press Wednesday lamenting a "massively consolidated" media landscape in which journalists are increasingly abandoning objectivity.
In a speech before the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, the attorney general referred to the press as "remarkably monolithic in viewpoint," adding that journalists "see themselves less as objective reporters of the facts and more as agents of change."...
February 21, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Federal judge orders city to cease enforcing free speech restrictions at Millennium Park
People who want to pass out literature or evangelize in Millennium Park will now be able to do so after a federal judge has temporarily barred the city of Chicago from restricting free speech privileges there.
U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey granted a preliminary injunction Thursday that allows people to evangelize and campaign in the park...
February 24, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Supreme Court to Hear Case on Gay Rights and Foster Care
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether Philadelphia may exclude a Catholic agency that does not work with same-sex couples from the city’s foster-care system.
The city stopped placements with the agency, Catholic Social Services, after a 2018 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer described its policy against placing children with same-sex couples. The agency and several foster parents sued the city, saying the decision violated their First Amendment rights to religious freedom and free speech...
February 27, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Duval school board member explores letting students have day off to protest
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After one of the biggest school districts in the country decided to allow students to have an excused absence to participate in protests, a school board member is exploring bringing the idea to Duval County.
Duval County School Board Vice Chairwoman Elizabeth Andersen broached the topic during a school board workshop last week...
February 27, 2020 | Federalism
Congress Makes Lynching a Federal Crime After 120 Years of Failure
Since at least 1900, members of the House and Senate have tried to pass a law making lynching a federal crime. The bills were consistently blocked, shelved or ignored, and the passage of time has rendered anti-lynching legislation increasingly symbolic.
But on Wednesday, a measure to add lynching to the United States Criminal Code passed in the House. The Senate passed a version of the bill last year...
February 25, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
New Mexico governor signs red-flag gun bill, tells sheriffs to enforce law or resign
SANTA FE - New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a red-flag gun bill Tuesday that will allow state district courts to order the temporary surrender of firearms, and she urged sheriffs to resign if they still refuse to enforce it.
Flanked by advocates for stricter gun control and supportive law enforcement officials at a signing ceremony, Lujan Grisham said the legislation provides law enforcement authorities with an urgently needed tool to deter deadly violence by taking firearms from people who pose a threat to themselves or others...
February 25, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Federal judge rebukes Trump over Roger Stone jury comments
A federal judge swung back at President Donald Trump on Tuesday over his heated criticism of the Roger Stone case, warning that the president’s commentary about his longtime associate’s conviction had helped fuel threats to the jury...
February 20, 2020 | Student Rights
California will pay millions to settle suit claiming it violated children’s rights by not teaching them to read
The state of California today agreed to settle a years-long, high-profile lawsuit that accused the state of depriving low-income students of color of their constitutional right to a basic education — by failing to teach them reading skills.
Under an agreement reached with plaintiffs in the complaint, Ella T. v. State of California, the state will provide $50 million specifically to improve literacy in the 75 California elementary schools with the highest concentration of third-graders scoring in the bottom tier of the state’s standardized reading exam...
February 14, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Mayor Michael Hancock will veto the pit bull bill passed by Denver City Council
Mayor Michael Hancock said on Friday evening that he will veto a bill ending the city’s pit bull ban passed by Denver City Council earlier this week.
Hancock’s decision comes after his office received more than 900 emails and dozens of phone calls over the bill, according to a video statement Hancock released Friday afternoon. A group of residents also delivered a petition on Thursday requesting he veto the bill, citing concerns over public safety...
February 20, 2020 | Property Rights
India, US ink pact on intellectual property rights
NEW DELHI: India and the US have signed an agreement on intellectual property rights (IPR) ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit. The Cabinet Wednesday approved an MoU with the US on the issue of IPRs, information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said...
February 21, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Florida House sends parental rights abortion bill to DeSantis
TALLAHASSEE — Following emotional debate, a divided Florida House approved a parental consent requirement Thursday for minors seeking abortion — reviving a measure declared unconstitutional 30 years ago by the state Supreme Court.
The bill (SB 404) would force girls under age 18 to get notarized approval from a parent or guardian or, otherwise, seek a hearing and gain consent from a judge before terminating a pregnancy...
February 18, 2020 | Gun Rights
Virginia lawmakers reject Northam’s assault-weapons ban, as Dems balk
A bill backed by Gov. Ralph Northam that would ban the sale of assault-style weapons in Virginia failed on a committee vote Monday morning, setting back one of the biggest priorities for the newly minted Democrat-controlled government in the state.
A crowd of gun-rights activists packed into the committee room cheered as the vote came in, with four moderate Democrats joining Republicans to shelve the bill until next year. Heated exchanges over guns have dominated this year's legislative session. They were also a key topic of last year's legislative elections – particularly after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach claimed a dozen lives – and gun control groups heavily funded Democratic candidates...
February 21, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
Assange’s fate hangs in balance as UK court considers U.S. extradition bid
LONDON (Reuters) - Almost a decade after his WikiLeaks website enraged Washington by leaking secret U.S. documents, a London court will begin hearings on Monday to decide whether Julian Assange should be extradited to the United States...
February 21, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
How group led to ‘free speech booth’ at St. Louis airport
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (AP) - Tucked near a rarely used escalator in Terminal 1 at St. Louis Lambert International Airport is a blue sign that hangs over a nondescript stand announcing in all caps the spot’s purpose: FREE SPEECH BOOTH.
Underneath the sign on a recent morning sat Gregory Brown, 66, and Charles Ryskamp, 70, calling out to travelers and asking for donations in exchange for books about their Hare Krishna beliefs. Most passed without a second look...
February 10, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Clark County school board meetings to no longer begin with prayer following complaint
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — The Clark County School District is no longer beginning its Board of School Trustees meetings with an invocation, or a prayer asking for God’s help and blessing, after a complaint was filed by the Freedom of Religion Foundation.
The foundation said Monday, Feb. 10, that it learned the board began meetings with prayer in December, citing one meeting that month which it says started with the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation...
February 18, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Catholic school facing protests for allegedly forcing gay teachers out of their jobs
Students and parents were planning protests after a Catholic school outside of Seattle allegedly forced out two teachers for being gay. Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Washington, claims that both English teacher Paul Danforth and soccer coach Michelle Beattie "voluntarily resigned" shortly after they got engaged to same-sex partners.
In a statement to CBS News, Danforth's fiancé Sean Nyberg said his partner was "no longer employed specifically because he and I got engaged… This is not only personally painful, it also harms former students who looked up to them."...
February 19, 2020 | Federalism
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero speaks out against proposed sanctuary city ban in Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona lawmakers are debating legislation that would strengthen laws against sanctuary cities in the state, but Tucson's mayor calls it "entirely unnecessary."
Republican lawmakers at the state capitol are now seeking to add a "sanctuary city ban" via constitutional amendment to the 2020 ballot. They say it's in response to a ballot measure last November that tried to designate Tucson as a sanctuary city. Voters rejected that proposal...
February 20, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Buttigieg calls on Bloomberg to drop out after debate
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign called on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to drop out of the Democratic presidential primary race in a memo released on Thursday, warning that Bloomberg's presence in the race would propel Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to the Democratic nomination.
"If Bloomberg remains in the race despite showing he can not offer a viable alternative to Bernie Sanders, he will propel Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead siphoning votes away from Pete, the current leader in delegates," Buttigieg's campaign wrote...
February 20, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Indianapolis Mayor Cracks Down on Violent Offenders and Illegal Guns
The mayor of Indianapolis has announced new strategies that aim to keep violent offenders and illegal guns off the streets, delivering a strong message against violent offenders.
“Guns illegally possessed, and those who carry them – public enemy number one,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said. “There is at least one variable that is common to most homicides. A gun. More specifically, a gun that is illegally possessed,” Mayor Hogsett went on to explain...
February 6, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
More than two dozen countries launch new religious freedom alliance
WASHINGTON (RNS) — The State Department announced Wednesday (Feb. 5) that 27 countries have joined the new International Religious Freedom Alliance that seeks to reduce religious persecution across the globe.
“Together, we say that freedom of religion or belief is not a Western ideal, but truly the bedrock of societies,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a dinner at the State Department launching the alliance that will involve senior representatives of government...
February 13, 2020 | Student Rights
BSU professor under fire for calling cops is no longer teaching this semester
MUNCIE, Ind. — Ball State University says Shaheen Borna, the marketing professor who called police to his classroom after a black student declined to change seats, is leaving the classroom.
"Dr. Borna will not be teaching classes for the remainder of the semester," the school said in a written statement on Thursday...
February 13, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Senate passes Iran War Powers resolution despite Trump’s opposition
The Senate passed an Iran War Powers resolution on Thursday, a rare measure that was approved with bipartisan support despite the fact that it has been opposed by President Donald Trump and aims to rein in his ability to use military action against Iran without congressional approval.
The vote was 55-45. Eight Republicans voted in favor of it: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Todd Young of Indiana, Mike Lee of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Jerry Moran of Kansas...
February 5, 2020 | Property Rights
Lawsuit Takes Aim At Civil Asset Forfeiture In Wayne County
For decades, Detroit police, sheriff’s deputies, and Wayne County prosecutors have used a controversial tactic called civil forfeiture to seize and sell thousands of cars — oftentimes from completely innocent owners...
January 21, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Va. Senate votes to prohibit conversion therapy, create transgender school policy, repeal gay marriage ban
A suite of LGBT-friendly legislation cleared the Virginia Senate on Tuesday...
February 10, 2020 | Gun Rights
More Arizona counties approve ‘sanctuary’ resolutions on gun rights
PRESCOTT, Ariz. - Two more rural Arizona counties have declared themselves to be “Second Amendment sanctuary counties,” taking stances in favor of gun rights even as some supporters of the measures acknowledge they'll have no or little real legal effect...
February 12, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
‘He would arrest us tomorrow’: Joe Scarborough says Trump would strip freedom of press if he could
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough claimed President Trump would send in the authorities to haul him and other journalists away in handcuffs if he could.
On Wednesday morning, Trump congratulated Attorney General William Barr for announcing that the Justice Department would seek a more lenient sentence for the president’s longtime associate Roger Stone. During his show on Wednesday, Scarborough criticized Trump and Barr and questioned whether Sen. Susan Collins still believed that Trump “learned his lesson” after being impeached in the House...
February 12, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Coronavirus: Li Wenliang’s death prompts academics to challenge Beijing on freedom of speech
Hundreds of Chinese, led by academics, have signed an online petition calling on the national legislature to protect citizens’ right to freedom of speech, amid growing public discontent over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak...
February 13, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Pipeline Protests Cause Widespread Travel Delays Across Canada
TYENDINAGA, Ontario — A dilapidated snow plow, three tents and some barrels sit beside the snowy tracks of the Canadian National Railway in Tyendinaga, Ontario, a protest in support of Indigenous leaders trying to stop the construction of a gas pipeline thousands of miles away, in British Columbia...
February 11, 2020 | Federalism
Governors Across U.S. Step Up Push To Legalize Marijuana In Their States
State legislatures across the U.S. have convened for new sessions over the past month, and a growing number of governors are taking steps to push lawmakers to include legalizing marijuana as part of their 2020 agendas...
February 13, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
This Lawmaker Wants to Remove the Words ‘Illegal Alien’ From the Law
Susan Lontine, a Democratic state representative in Colorado, knows well how some use the term “illegal alien” to disparage migrants. Her district in Denver contains many immigrant communities, and she recoils when she hears President Trump use the term in speeches or catches conservative colleagues uttering it in Statehouse hallways.
What Ms. Lontine did not know, however, was that for more than 13 years, the words have also resided in an arcane section of the Colorado state code about who can work on public projects. A friend recently came across the language while training for her job with the City of Denver.
February 12, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Judge: More info needed on Virginia Tech student’s due process complaint
A cadet at Virginia Tech went before a judge in the US District court Tuesday to ask him to require the school to lift his suspension.
The judge took the request under advisement.
Darrien Brown, a senior cadet, is one of several students disciplined by Virginia Tech for their involvement in an alleged "blood pinning" or hazing event, one in which no students were said to have been injured...
February 12, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Roger Stone jury foreperson’s anti-Trump social media posts surface after she defends DOJ prosecutors
Former Memphis City Schools Board President Tomeka Hart revealed Wednesday that she was the foreperson of the jury that convicted former Trump adviser Roger Stone on obstruction charges last year -- and soon afterward, her history of Democratic activism and a string of her anti-Trump, left-wing social media posts came to light.
Hart even posted specifically about the Stone case before she voted to convict, as she retweeted an argument mocking those who considered Stone's dramatic arrest in a predawn raid by a federal tactical team to be excessive force. She also suggested President Trump and his supporters are racist and praised the investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which ultimately led to Stone's prosecution...
January 16, 2020 | Student Rights
Trump Defends School Prayer. Critics Say He’s Got It All Wrong
President Trump on Thursday defended students who feel they can't pray in their schools — and warned school administrators they risk losing federal funds if they violate their students' rights to religious expression.
Trump held an event in the Oval Office with a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim students and teachers to commemorate National Religious Freedom Day. The students and teachers said they have been discriminated against for practicing their religion at school...
January 15, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Assembly Fails To Override Gov. Tony Evers’ Nurse Training Veto
State Assembly lawmakers attempted and failed Wednesday to override Gov. Tony Evers’ veto of a bill that would have decreased state training requirements for nurse aides.
Legislators voted along party lines, 63-36, on the veto override. All Republicans voted in favor of the override; all Democrats voted against. Veto overrides require a two-thirds majority to pass...
January 15, 2020 | Property Rights
The DEA seized her father’s life savings at an airport without alleging any crime occurred, lawsuit says
Every dollar Terry Rolin had saved over a lifetime was stacked in a large Tupperware container: $82,373. At 79, he was aging and worried about keeping so much cash on hand, his daughter said, so during one of her visits he asked her to open a joint bank account.
Rebecca Brown was catching a flight home from the Pittsburgh airport early the next day and said she didn’t have time to stop at a bank. She confirmed on a government website that it’s legal to carry any amount of cash on a domestic flight and tucked the money in her carry-on...
January 23, 2020 | Individual Liberties
LGBT bills clear Virginia Senate and head to a friendly House of Delegates
RICHMOND — The Virginia Senate on Tuesday passed a host of LGBT rights bills as Democrats continued to flex their new power in the Capitol.
The Senate voted to ban conversion therapy on children, repeal the state’s now-defunct ban on same-sex marriage and establish statewide policies for the treatment of transgender students. The chamber also voted to replace “husband and wife” with gender-neutral “parties to the marriage” language in divorce law and make it easier for transgender people to change how their sex is listed on their birth certificates...
January 21, 2020 | Gun Rights
Battle between gun rights and gun control continues in Arizona
The gun debate is popping up in Arizona once again, as both sides are looking for new laws and stronger protections.
There's another effort to pass a legislation that aims to stop a domestic abuser from getting or keeping a gun...
January 21, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Supreme Court battle over school choice may boost religious freedom
WASHINGTON – Three moms from Montana will be at the Supreme Court on Wednesday where they'll get a chance to make history on religious school choice.
What they're fighting over may seem small: a discontinued state program that offered $150 tax credits to help spur $500 tuition scholarships. But the stakes are high for both sides in the national debate over public aid for religious schools...
January 21, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Iranian Student Turned Back at Airport, Sparking Protest
An Iranian student was turned away from Boston’s Logan International Airport on Monday, sparking protests over the latest in a growing number of cases of international students blocked from entering the United States amid heightened diplomatic tensions with Iran...
January 23, 2020 | Federalism
Gov. Bill Lee announces new fetal heartbeat bill, comprehensive abortion restriction legislation
Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday announced that Tennessee Republicans will pursue comprehensive restrictions on abortion this legislative session, building upon an effort last year to pass a controversial fetal heartbeat bill.
Unlike last year's heartbeat bill, which passed in the House but did not receive support from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally in the Senate, the new approach includes other abortion restrictions and a severability clause...
January 23, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Two Legal Teams With Contrasting Strategies Face Off in the Capitol
WASHINGTON — When President Trump’s impeachment trial opened this week, the Democratic House managers prosecuting the case piled their table high with binders and notepads. Only a few rested on the defense table.
The contrasting amount of material the two legal teams brought into the Senate chamber to support their initial arguments foreshadowed a broader difference in their approaches to the trial...
January 22, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Virginia Senate passes red flag gun law after tightening due process protections
As a Virginia Senate committee debated how to craft a policy allowing police to take guns away from people deemed dangerous, one Republican made an ominous warning about what could happen if the state starts sending officers up “Ruby Ridge Drive” to bang on the door.
“When they don’t answer the door,” said Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Russell, “… is this committee asking that that door be knocked down to find out what’s on the other side?”...
January 22, 2020 | Citizen Juries
When Senators Try A President, Are They Jurors? Apparently Not
It was Day Two of the House managers' opening arguments in another Senate impeachment trial 21 years ago. Bob Barr, a Georgia House Republican,
was speaking in the well of the Senate, making a case for removing President Bill Clinton from office.
"We urge you, the distinguished jurors in this case," Barr said to the assembled senators, "not to be fooled."...
January 12, 2020 | Student Rights
Public schools in Virginia can censor student journalists any time, for any reason. A proposed law would change that.
Kate Karstens knew she’d nailed the story when the Yale-bound son of a school board member confessed to skipping class more than two dozen times — without consequences.
It was 2016, near the end of her junior year, and Karstens had spent weeks reporting an article about chronic absenteeism at George Mason High School in Northern Virginia, tracing administrators’ failure to punish offenders. Now, Karstens raced from the interview to tell Peter Laub, faculty adviser for the student newspaper, the Lasso. After a few rounds of editing, they pressed publish...
January 16, 2020 | Separation of Powers
Taxpayers are only covering Democrats’ legal fees in a partisan Colorado legislature lawsuit. Republicans say that’s unfair.
Colorado lawmakers are sparring over the use of taxpayer money to pay for legal costs in a partisan lawsuit confronting what both sides say is a critical question about the state constitution.
The hangup: Taxpayers are only paying for the Democrats’ representation, to the tune of about $40,000 and counting, more than half of which was appropriated without required legislative approval...
January 13, 2020 | Property Rights
Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Mandating Comprehensive Disclosure and Transparency Requirements for Civil Asset Forfeiture
TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation (S1963) mandating comprehensive disclosure and transparency requirements for the system of civil asset forfeiture.
“New Jersey law enforcement agencies currently have no permanent statutory requirement to disclose civil asset forfeitures,” said Governor Murphy. “This legislation would boost confidence in our justice system by requiring county prosecutors to track and report data on this practice. Allowing the public to understand how assets are being seized, where seized funds go, and where forfeited property is going is a huge step forward for transparency and accountability.”...
January 15, 2020 | Individual Liberties
Tennessee lawmakers OK bill allowing adoption agencies to deny gay couples
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee lawmakers passed a controversial measure this week that protects religious adoption agencies if they choose to discriminate against same-sex couples.
The bill declares that no licensed adoption agency would be required to participate in a child placement if doing so would "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies."...
January 15, 2020 | Gun Rights
Who’s against Second Amendment sanctuaries? An Ohio gun rights group
If there can be gun sanctuaries, there can be anti-gun sanctuaries.
That's why Second Amendment Sanctuaries in Ohio have garnered an unlikely opponent: gun-rights groups.
"These people that are pushing this stuff might snatch defeat from the jaws of victory," said Chris Dorr, executive director of Ohio Gun Owners, in his podcast that posted Monday evening...
January 15, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
Iowa Legislature again denies access to political blogger despite protests
IOWA CITY — The Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature has again denied press access to a liberal journalist whose blog is often critical of its policies, despite warnings from state and national groups that the restriction appears to be unconstitutional.
The Iowa House and the Iowa Senate informed Laura Belin, who operates the Bleeding Heartland blog, that her applications for access during the session that began Monday were rejected...
January 16, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Wikipedia is unblocked in Turkey after more than two years as court deems ban ‘unconstitutional’
Turkey lifted its more than two-and-a-half year block on Wikipedia on Thursday, after the country’s top constitutional court ruled the ban unconstitutional. The ruling comes as a win for free speech advocates in a country whose government is widely accused of increasingly eroding citizens’ democratic rights...
January 16, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Trump administration moves to protect prayer in public schools and federal funds for religious organizations
The Trump administration is moving to strengthen protections for students who want to pray or worship in public schools and proposing changes that would make it easier for religious groups that provide social services to access federal funds...
January 14, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Protesters march against President Trump
MILWAUKEE — About 300 people protested President Donald Trump outside UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Tuesday night. They were hoping their words were heard by the president and his supporters. Protesters gathered in Red Arrow Park, chanting against Trump's arrival in downtown Milwaukee...
January 16, 2020 | Federalism
Immigration agency subpoenas sanctuary city law enforcement
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has subpoenaed Denver law enforcement for information on four foreign nationals wanted for deportation and may consider expanding the unusual practice to other locations if necessary. It’s an escalation of the conflict between federal officials and so-called sanctuary cities...
January 15, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
The chief justice wanted to know: Is ‘OK boomer’ ageist? (He may have been asking for a friend.)
The 64-year-old leader of the Supreme Court posed a question on Wednesday that some in his generation have been asking for months: Does saying “OK boomer” count as age discrimination?
If the query hadn’t been an earnest attempt to test the bounds of a lawyer’s legal argument, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. might have followed it up with another viral expression: “asking for a friend,” a self-consciously ironic phrase often uttered when an inquisitor is very obviously not asking for a friend...
January 4, 2020 | Student Rights
School violated student’s 1st Amendment rights over parody Instagram account, lawsuit claims
BAY CITY, MI — The father of an area teen has filed a federal lawsuit against Freeland Community School District, claiming it violated his son’s constitutional rights when it suspended him for a creating an Instagram account mocking a teacher...
January 10, 2020 | Separation of Powers
House approves war powers resolution to restrict Trump on Iran
Washington — The House of Representatives delivered a sharp rebuke to President Trump over his use of U.S. military power in the Middle East, approving a measure, relating to the War Powers Resolution of 1983, to restrict his authority to strike Iran without congressional approval. The resolution passed by a vote of 224 to 194 and now goes to the Senate. Eight Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the resolution, while three Republicans voted in favor. Seven of the eight Democrats who voted with Republicans are freshmen...
January 6, 2020 | Property Rights
Lawmakers Consider Taking On Parole, Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform In 2020
It’s no secret West Virginia lawmakers are concerned about the state’s large incarcerated population. The Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety reports there are 5,300 people occupying the state’s 11 at-capacity prison facilities, and 4,980 people occupying its 10 regional jails, which on Monday were 19% overcapacity...
January 8, 2020 | Gun Rights
Three more NC counties become Second Amendment sanctuaries. What does that really mean?
Three North Carolina counties declared themselves supporters of gun rights this week, adding to the list of so-called Second Amendment sanctuaries across the state and the country.
Commissioners in Lincoln, Surry and Wilkes counties in Western North Carolina voted to defend gun ownership, according to news reports and government documents...
January 6, 2020 | Freedom of the Press
The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership expands to include International Press Institute and National Press Club
The Washington Post today announced the addition of the International Press Institute and the National Press Club to its Press Freedom Partnership. IPI and NPC join a global group of partner organizations including Committee to Protect Journalists, International Women’s Media Foundation, James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, One Free Press Coalition, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Reporters Without Borders...
January 10, 2020 | Freedom of Speech
Brazil’s top court overturns ban on Netflix’s ‘gay Jesus’ film, calls it ‘free speech’
BRASILIA, Brazil, January 10, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned a ban on Netflix’s streaming of a blasphemous film in the country that depicted Jesus as homosexual. The ban was in effect for about one day.
The president of the Supreme Court, Dias Toffoli, said yesterday that Netflix should be permitted to continue offering comedy film The First Temptation of Christ because “freedom of speech” is fundamental in a democracy...
January 8, 2020 | Freedom of Religion
Supreme Court to Hear Religious Freedom Case on School Choice
On Jan. 22, the Supreme Court will hear a religious freedom case. The outcome will determine whether states may manage their educational systems to discriminate against religion or favor some religions over others.
The case is Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The plaintiffs are religious families with children. The defendant is a state agency that claims the Montana constitution requires it to deny educational choice to those families...
January 9, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Supporters, opponents rally outside Virginia State Capitol as 2020 General Assembly session begins
RICHMOND, Va. -- Supporters and opponents of a variety of causes rallied outside the State Capitol on Wednesday as the 2020 General Assembly got under way.
Among the issues and bills drawing attention is the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment...
January 8, 2020 | Federalism
Cuomo pledges to legalize marijuana in New York in 2020
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during his Wednesday night State of the State address pledged to legalize marijuana in New York by the end of this year.
Cuomo had said legalization was a priority in his agenda in 2019, but a push for legalization failed to pass in the state legislature before the end of the legislative session...
January 9, 2020 | Debates and Conversations
Pelosi Is Prepared to Send Impeachment Articles to Senate, Just Not Yet
WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi quietly laid the groundwork on Thursday to send impeachment articles against President Trump to the Senate, indicating that the House would “soon” end a weekslong impasse and vote to bring the charges to trial...
January 10, 2020 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
State Sets Rules to Give Due Process to Child Parolees
The state agency overseeing child and family services finally has adopted rules that aim to ensure due process for young people going through the juvenile version of parole.
The move last month follows a May ruling by Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead, who found the city’s handling of child parole violations to have “no force of law.”...
January 9, 2020 | Citizen Juries
Outrage over South Florida juror who was jailed for oversleeping sparks legislation
Outrage over a 10-day jail sentence given to a Palm Beach County college student who overslept and missed jury duty last year has sparked legislation to put restrictions on judges.
State Sen. Bobby Powell and state Rep. Al Jacquet, both Palm Beach County Democrats, filed bills (SB 1590/ HB 1125) this week that would bar judges from sentencing people to jail for missing jury duty...
January 2, 2020 | Student Rights
ISU faces lawsuit claiming violation of students’ First Amendment rights
AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University is facing a lawsuit claiming student speech and other civil rights have been infringed upon.
A civil suit filed on January 2 by Speech First, presenting as a nonprofit membership association to combat restrictions on free speech, focuses on three areas of concern...
January 3, 2020 | Separation of Powers
DC Circuit Court of Appeals to hear cases on separation of powers
The US House of Representatives and the Justice Department are set to argue Friday over two major questions in the ongoing impeachment proceedings and congressional investigations of President Donald Trump.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals will consider whether the House should get access to confidential documents from the Mueller investigation to consider Trump's reception of foreign political help, and if the White House should be able to block top advisers from complying with congressional subpoenas...
December 31, 2019 | Property Rights
From noisy birds to holograms, eight curious property rights debates in 2019
FIGHTS over property rights extended to pavements, space, the sea, data, dead people's images, and even noises and smells in 2019, with governments scrambling to define and legislate emerging areas of concern.
At the same time, deadly conflicts raged over land and water with at least 108 people killed trying to protect land from industries in 23 nations from January to November compared to 91 a year ago, said human rights advocacy group PAN Asia-Pacific...
January 2, 2020 | Individual Liberties
With Partial Flavor Ban, Trump Splits the Difference on Vaping
In September, President Trump, the first lady and two of his top health officials gathered in the Oval Office to announce they would take what Mr. Trump called “very, very strong” action against the fast-growing epidemic of teenage vaping: a ban on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes...
December 31, 2019 | Gun Rights
Gun-Rights Advocates See Lessons in Texas Church Shooting
A streaming video of the Sunday church service in Texas at which a parishioner gunned down a shooter is rallying those who support making it easier for private citizens to bear arms.
Gun-rights advocates have long argued that if more citizens have guns, they can defend themselves and others in the event of a shooting. They say that schools and churches have become popular targets because students and worshipers are unarmed and vulnerable...
December 20, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Religious freedom agency reauthorized with Trump’s signature
WASHINGTON (RNS) — The independent religious freedom watchdog whose future was in question in recent months has been reauthorized as part of an ominbus bill President Trump signed Friday (Dec. 20).
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom received funding of $3.5 million annually for the next three years after members of Congress included revised legislation about it in the 1,700-plus-page bill that they approved this week...
January 1, 2020 | Freedom of Assembly
Pro-Iranian Protesters End Siege of U.S. Embassy in Baghdad
BAGHDAD — After a second day of tense protests at the American Embassy in Baghdad, thousands of pro-Iranian demonstrators dispersed on Wednesday, ending a siege that had trapped American diplomats in the embassy compound overnight and winding down a potentially explosive crisis for the Trump administration.
The demonstrators had swarmed outside the embassy, chanting “Death to America!” Some tried to scale the compound’s walls, and others clambered onto the roof of the reception building they had burned the day before...
January 1, 2020 | Federalism
Here’s How Conservatives Are Using Civil Rights Law to Restrict Abortion
Six states passed laws in 2019 banning abortions once a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy. While most of these new laws were challenged in court and are temporarily blocked, the trend has continued: another 10 states introduced similar bills in 2019 and more are expected this year.
The sudden success of these measures is not an accident. They are the result of a concerted new strategy by abortion opponents, researchers have found...
December 28, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Erie judge reaffirms decision in non-citizen juror case
A local drug case is still set to be retried after an Erie County judge once again ruled that a woman who is not a U.S. citizen shouldn’t have served on a jury at the original trial in August.
In an opinion filed Monday, Senior Judge William R. Cunningham affirmed his original decision to grant a new trial and offered a more detailed explanation for the ruling, which he first issued in November...
December 11, 2019 | Student Rights
Justice Department Backs Free-Speech Lawsuit Against Mississippi Junior College: U.S. Is ‘Not a Police State’
The Justice Department weighed in on a federal campus free-speech lawsuit on Monday, proclaiming that neither Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi, nor any other public educational institution, can “trample on” its students’ First Amendment rights...
December 12, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Dems plow ahead with impeachment articles, in heated all-day session
The House Judiciary Committee became the scene of a fresh partisan clash Thursday as lawmakers pressed ahead with two articles of impeachment against President Trump, with majority Democrats turning back a last-ditch bid by Republicans to scrap one of them.
The committee is poised for an initial vote by day's end that would send the articles to the full House for a historically weighty floor vote as early as next week. But first, lawmakers were finalizing the text of the articles during Thursday's all-day session, which became progressively more heated and personal as the afternoon wore on...
December 10, 2019 | Property Rights
New Jersey may make it harder for police to keep property they take from you
New Jersey wants to make it more difficult for police and prosecutors to keep cash and property seized from people they suspect used the property in a crime.
Some experts, however, don't think the new legislation will fully solve the problem, amid a system that creates a perverse incentive for police to collect proceeds to fund their departments. Sponsors, meanwhile, say they are open to suggestions and that the bill will improve upon New Jersey's status quo...
December 11, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Mass. Just Lifted Its Ban On Vaping Product Sales. Here’s What You Need To Know
Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration lifted the emergency vaping products sales ban Wednesday during a meeting of the state's Public Health Council. That means some products will again be available for legal purchase, but the retail sale of flavored vaping liquids will remain illegal, under a recently passed state law.
Baker announced the temporary ban in September, citing a lack of information about the cause of a growing number of cases of lung illnesses and some deaths across the country and in Massachusetts. Public health officials have linked the illnesses to vaping...
December 11, 2019 | Gun Rights
‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ Movement Grows in Virginia as Democrats Ready Gun Control Measures
Some 1,800 PEOPLE packed a high school auditorium in Virginia's Augusta County for a recent special county board hearing – a sky-high turnout for a local government meeting.
The observers – most of whom were sporting bright orange stickers emblazoned with the slogan "guns save lives" – attended the Dec. 4 hearing to convince the board to vote to approve a resolution declaring the county a so-called Second Amendment sanctuary. By the end of the raucous, 2 1/2-hour meeting, they had succeeded, according to The Staunton News Leader...
December 12, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Chris Wallace: Trump Engaged In “Most Direct, Sustained Assault On Freedom Of The Press In Our History”
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace told a crowd at the Newseum that President Donald Trump “is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.”
“The president’s attacks have done some damage,” Wallace said, noting a Freedom Forum Insitute poll that shows that 29% of Americans think the First Amendment goes “too far” and 77% think that “fake news” is a “serious threat to our democracy.”...
December 6, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Republicans introduce bill to protect LGBTQ rights and religious freedom
(RNS) — With the backing of a consortium of Christian colleges and universities, a Utah congressman introduced a bill Friday (Dec. 6) that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ people while also protecting religious institutions that uphold traditional beliefs about marriage and sexuality...
December 11, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
House Panel Debates Impeachment Articles in Bid to Complete Charges Against Trump
The House Judiciary Committee opened debate Wednesday on two articles of impeachment against President Trump, starting a somber and deeply partisan confrontation over Democrats’ charges that the president abused his power and obstructed Congress.
In a rare evening session that was only the third time in modern history the panel had met to consider removing a president, Democrats and Republicans clashed over the Constitution, the allegations against Mr. Trump and the political consequences of moving to oust him less than a year before the next election. The debate unfolded at the start of a two-day meeting that is expected to culminate on Thursday with a party-line vote to send the articles to the full House for final passage...
December 11, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Court To Explore Whether Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Got A Fair Trial
On Thursday, lawyers representing convicted 26-year-old Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will go before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals to argue that their client did not receive a fair trial in 2015. They will also ask that the death penalty in the case be rescinded.
Tsarnaev's legal team will argue that their client received neither a fair nor impartial trial and sentencing. The court is being asked to consider whether Judge George O'Toole acted properly, whether the nondisclosure of social media postings compromised jury selection and whether the death penalty decision was influenced by juror bias...
December 4, 2019 | Student Rights
‘Hunger-Free Student Bill of Rights’ bill introduced in Michigan Senate
Students from lower-income families are losing access to lunch and being subject to public embarrassment by schools because of it.
That’s according to state Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) who seeks an end to “lunch shaming” policies in schools such as being given barebones meals, having to wear wristbands or performing chores in exchange for meals...
November 24, 2019 | Property Rights
China plans stronger protections for intellectual property rights
China said on Sunday it would seek to improve protections for intellectual property rights, including raising the upper limits for compensation for rights infringements.
An opinion document released by the State Council and Communist Party’s Central Office on Sunday evening called for a strengthening of protections through both the civil and criminal justice systems and an effective enforcement of penalties...
December 2, 2019 | Gun Rights
Supreme Court shows little appetite for expanding gun rights in arguments over repealed New York regulation
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed unlikely to deliver a major win for gun-rights activists during arguments on Monday in the first significant Second Amendment case the justices have heard in nearly a decade.
The case was challenging a New York City gun regulation that barred the transport of handguns outside of the city, even to a second home or firing range. After the court agreed to hear the case, though, the city did away with the regulation and the state passed a law that prevented the city from reviving it...
December 4, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Sexual harassment guidelines at two Colorado colleges restrict free speech, watchdog group says
A national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting free speech on college campuses dinged two Colorado universities over their sexual harassment policies, saying the schools’ definitions of harassment include constitutionally protected speech.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, known as FIRE, on Wednesday published its annual report rating nearly 500 colleges around the country, including 14 public and private schools in Colorado...
December 4, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Pence says Trump is an ally of religious freedom at West Michigan church
PORTAGE, MI -- Vice President Mike Pence presented President Donald Trump as a tireless advocate for religious liberty while visiting faith leaders at a Portage church.
Pence said his travels on the campaign trail for Trump’s reelection effort reinforced his view that the United States is “a nation of faith." The vice president said Trump is a strong ally of all religions, and with God’s help and four more years in the White House, America will become “more prosperous than you can imagine.”...
December 2, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
China Bars U.S. Military From Hong Kong Ports Over Support For Protesters
China is barring U.S. Navy port calls and American military aircraft from visiting Hong Kong in retaliation for Washington's recent adoption of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act — legislation that supports pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
"China urges the U.S. to correct its mistake and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs or interfering in China's other internal affairs by any word and act," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, according to the state-run media outlet Xinhua...
December 1, 2019 | Federalism
Recreational marijuana is legal in Michigan and will soon be legal in Illinois. Here’s what to know
Two Midwestern states are breaking into the recreational marijuana market, and dispensaries are expecting huge crowds.
Legal weed sales began Sunday in Michigan, where a handful of dispensaries in Ann Arbor planned to be open for business. The landmark moment in the state's cannabis industry comes amid a temporary ban on the sale of vaping devices in Michigan as health officials investigate the causes of vaping-related lung illnesses nationwide...
December 4, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
‘It’s a shame’: Castro, Booker blast potential all-white Democratic debate lineup after Harris drops out
After Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday she was ending her campaign for president, some supporters were shocked and some megadonors were frantic, trying to get their recently donated money back.
But to many — including several other presidential candidates — the immediate reaction to her departure was what it meant for the Dec. 19 Democratic debate: Namely, that the event may now have an all-white stage...
November 29, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Judge rules Boston immigration court’s detention hearings violated due process
In a decision hailed by civil rights advocates, a federal judge in Boston ruled last week that the way authorities handle detention hearings in Boston immigration court violates due process under the Constitution.
Judge Patti B. Saris issued the ruling on Wednesday in response to a class-action lawsuit filed by ACLU chapters in Massachusetts and New Hampshire on behalf of three immigrants who were detained after allegedly flawed hearings...
November 30, 2019 | Citizen Juries
A non-citizen served on an Erie County jury. Now what?
In September, a letter arrived at the Erie County Courthouse that upended the verdict in a drug case and spurred still-unsettled questions about who can qualify for jury duty.
Its author was a woman who served as a juror in the case. She is not an American citizen, and wrote in her letter that she said so several times before ultimately being picked for the panel during the August trial term.
“I am certain I stated I am not a citizen,” the woman wrote in her letter, which is included in court records. “However, I was put all the way through and eventually selected. I must admit it was a shocker to me and quite exciting to even think I could be picked.”
November 18, 2019 | Student Rights
Binghamton University student protesters clash over gun rights: What we know
A confrontation between two groups on Binghamton University's campus got heated over a display supporting gun rights Thursday afternoon, hours after a shooting in a California high school.
The gathering on BU's campus drew a response by University Police officers, and has since sparked discussion among BU officials and student groups about free speech on campus and whether the university's response to the incident was appropriate...
November 18, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Supreme Court temporarily halts court order requiring accountants to turn over Trump’s tax returns to Congress
The Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked a ruling that requires President Donald Trump’s longtime accounting firm to turn over his tax returns to Congress.
The temporary stay order signed by Chief Justice John Roberts gives the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Oversight and Reform until Thursday to respond. The document did not note any public votes or dissents...
November 13, 2019 | Property Rights
Downingtown Area School District votes to start eminent domain process of buying up acres of private property
The Downingtown Area School District voted to start the eminent domain process at a school board meeting Wednesday night. The decision has left families and business owners upset.
A big six-bedroom Victorian in Downingtown seems a little empty these days because the Gilliland family stopped accepting foster children. They had no choice when they got a registered letter in the mail from the Downingtown Area School District telling the family the district wants their home...
November 21, 2019 | Gun Rights
2020 hopes rise for gun control groups after Virginia elections
Fresh off their success in helping flip control of the Virginia legislature, gun control advocates are now turning their attention to 2020 races in Texas and Colorado, two states that are likely to present tougher hurdles.
Democrats this month captured control of the Virginia General Assembly for the first time in decades, helped in part by a flood of money — and muscle — from gun control advocates such as Everytown for Gun Safety that mainly targeted suburban districts...
November 18, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Sweden Rejects Chinese Criticism of Press Freedom Prize
Sweden’s culture minister on Nov. 16 awarded the annual Tucholsky literary prize to a Chinese author despite a threat from the Chinese ambassador to ban her from entering the country.
Author Gui Minhai, a naturalized Swede and co-owner of a Hong Kong store that sold books critical of Chinese leaders, was detained by police in eastern China in 2018 while in the company of two Swedish diplomats with whom he was traveling to Beijing...
November 20, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Art Laffer shouted out of campus lecture by protesters: They ‘clearly don’t want free speech’
In yet another attempt by young protesters to stifle free speech, students at Binghamton University shut down a lecture Tuesday by former Reagan administration economic adviser Art Laffer.
The economist, a regular guest on Fox News Channel, was invited to speak about economics by the school's College Republicans. However, as soon as Laffer approached the podium, protesters with a bullhorn jumped up on desks shouting -- with the intent to shut down Laffer's speech...
November 18, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Lawsuit filed over latest New York abortion law
Several pro-life organizations in New York have sued the state over a law they say targets pro-life and religious employers, barring them from reflecting their core beliefs in hiring policies.
“No government has the right to tell pro-life or religious organizations they must hire someone who doesn’t agree with their core mission,” Ken Connelly, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said Monday. ADF is representing the plaintiffs in the case...
November 19, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
U.S. Senate Passes Hong Kong Democracy Bill, Drawing China’s Ire
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday aimed at supporting protesters in Hong Kong and warning China against a violent suppression of the demonstrations -- drawing a rebuke from Beijing.
China reiterated Wednesday a threat to impose unspecified retaliation if the bill became law and urged the U.S. to stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs. Ma Zhaoxu, vice minister of foreign affairs in Beijing, later summoned William Klein, a U.S. embassy official, and raised strong objections about the bill. Separately, Hong Kong’s government expressed “extreme regret” and the legislation would negatively impact relations with the U.S...
November 21, 2019 | Federalism
Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar and Booker Talk Abortion Rights at Debate
With states passing near-total bans on abortion and a conservative Supreme Court majority poised to potentially revisit Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights have become a major issue in the 2020 campaign. Some candidates and abortion-rights advocates, however, have noted the relative lack of questions on the issue in the Democratic presidential debates so far...
November 21, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
5 Takeaways From The 5th Democratic Debate
Candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination took to the debate stage for the fifth time Wednesday night. There weren't any groundbreaking or game-changing moments, but here are five things that stood out:
November 10, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
GOP congressman: If ‘murderers’ and ‘rapists’ get due process, Trump should too
A leading Republican congressman on Sunday said that the process behind the House impeachment probe of President Donald Trump is just as important as the case itself because "there's a reason we let murderers and robbers and rapists go free when their due process rights have been violated."
The comments from Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, came as Republicans and Democrats dominated the airwaves Sunday morning with discussion of the president's conduct toward Ukraine, which is at the center of the investigation. Multiple Trump administration officials have testified on the record that they believed Trump was withholding roughly $400 million in military aid to the country until Ukrainian leadership publicly announced investigations into the Bidens and Democrats...
November 13, 2019 | Student Rights
Ohio House passes bill it says will protect students’ religious liberties at school
The Ohio House on Wednesday approved legislation that would protect student rights to religious expression in public schools, including prayer, school assignments, artwork and clothing.
Lawmakers passed House Bill 164 by a vote of 61-31 and sent it to the Senate for consideration...
November 14, 2019 | Separation of Powers
President Trump asks Supreme Court to block access to his tax returns, setting up separation of powers battle
WASHINGTON – President Trump asked the Supreme Court Thursday to block New York prosecutors from obtaining eight years of his tax returns, setting up a landmark separation of powers battle.
The request followed a federal appeals court's rejection last week of Trump's claim of absolute immunity from criminal investigation and prosecution – a claim his lawyer illustrated by saying the president could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue...
November 13, 2019 | Individual Liberties
NY law raising age to buy tobacco, e-cigs goes into effect
New York has now raised the minimum age to buy tobacco and electronic cigarettes to 21 years old, from 18.
The law goes into effect Wednesday, Nov. 13.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the goal is to prevent addictive cigarette and vaping products from getting to young people.
November 14, 2019 | Gun Rights
‘Don’t stay silent’: Democrats lash out as GOP blocks gun measure amid school shooting
News of the Santa Clarita, California, school shooting broke Thursday just as Connecticut's two Democratic senators were making an emotional case for gun control on the Senate floor. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have been especially forceful advocates against gun violence since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 26 people were killed, including 20 children...
November 10, 2019 |
‘We no longer have freedom of the press,’ Trump declares
President Trump again slammed the media on Sunday, declaring that “we no longer have Freedom of the Press!”
He made the comment in a Sunday morning tweet where he also said: “Journalistic standards are nonexistent today.”
Trump’s post was in response to a tweet blasting ABC News for not airing a report about Jeffrey Epstein while publicizing accusations of misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process...
November 13, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Wisconsin board backs away from free speech restrictions
DARLINGTON, Wis. — A county board in southern Wisconsin has backed away from a plan to prosecute journalists over their reporting on a water quality study and discipline elected officials for how they handle information about the research.
The Lafayette County Board on Tuesday night put off a decision on how to release information about private wells contaminated with fecal matter.
The board shelved a resolution that said journalists would be prosecuted if they didn't quote a county news release verbatim when reporting on water quality. It also had threatened to punish officials who talked publicly without getting government permission...
November 15, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
‘IM GOD’ license plate approved by judge
FRANKFORT, Ky. — A federal court is allowing a Kentucky man to personalize a license plate with the phrase "IM GOD” after a three-year legal battle over the custom engraving.
Court documents show Ben Hart, a self-identified atheist, set out to get the Kentucky plate in 2016. But Hart's request was denied by the state transportation department on the basis it violated antidiscrimination guidelines. News outlets report similar plates had been approved before, including "TRYGOD" and "NOGOD."...
November 14, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Racist incidents at Syracuse University prompt protest, response from New York governor
Racist graffiti was discovered in a building on the Syracuse University campus Wednesday, days after racial slurs were found in a residence hall in a separate incident that prompted a response from the governor of New York and a sit-in by students.
The Syracuse University Department of Public Safety said in a statement Thursday it is actively investigating a bias incident reported at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday...
November 14, 2019 | Federalism
Ohio lawmakers proposed a total ban on abortion. Judges have blocked similar laws.
A new bill sponsored by two Republican Ohio lawmakers would completely end the practice of abortion in the state — a sweeping measure one local abortion rights advocate said “would strip every person who can get pregnant of their bodily autonomy.”
State Reps. Ron Hood and Candice Keller are the lead sponsors of House Bill 413, which, among other provisions, seeks to legally recognize unborn fetuses as people, according to a news release from the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio dated Thursday and obtained by The Washington Post. Anyone who performs an abortion, according to the release, would be “subject to already existing murder statutes.”...
November 11, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Sex offenders say New Mexico depriving them of due process
The question of whether sex offenders must register in New Mexico for crimes they committed in other states is making its way through the courts again.
Eight plaintiffs, each listed as "John Doe," have filed a petition in U.S. District Court in New Mexico, alleging the state Department of Public Safety and five county sheriffs failed to provide them due process in determining whether their out-of-state offense is "equivalent" to a New Mexico crime that would require them to register in this state...
November 13, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Colorado Springs police officers justified in shooting of De’Von Bailey, grand jury determines
A grand jury unanimously determined Colorado Springs police officers were justified when they shot and killed 19-year-old De’Von Bailey in August, Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May announced Wednesday.
“These are not easy decisions,” May told reporters during an impromptu news conference near the Teller County Courthouse in Cripple Creek. “I think there was a totally independent investigation and a totally independent decision in this case.”...
November 7, 2019 | Student Rights
Central Washington University students protest for the right to free student press
Students at Central Washington University are protesting the school in support of free student press.
"We're going to be stepping outside in order to protest against administrative censorship and content regulation that's been going on for the past year," said Mariah Valles...
November 7, 2019 | Property Rights
Libertarian law firm asks SCOTUS to consider Colorado eminent domain case
A libertarian public interest law firm is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to end what it says is an abusive eminent domain practice in Colorado.
The Arlington, Virg.-based Institute for Justice filed a petition with the court Thursday asking it to review a Colorado Supreme Court ruling and decide if private companies can use eminent domain for their own benefit...
November 6, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Ohio Senate passes abortion ‘reversal’ and abortion survival bills
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Senate passed two anti-abortion bills Wednesday, including one that would require physicians to notify patients that an abortion can be reversed -- a procedure that hasn’t been scientifically proven.
The second measure, Senate Bill 208, would require physicians to preserve the life of babies who survive abortions. Critics of that bill say state law already contains such provisions and doctors who violate them face a first-degree felony charge. The law was enacted Sept. 16, 1974...
November 6, 2019 | Gun Rights
After Democratic legislative gains, Virginia governor vows new gun-control push
(Reuters) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s push for new gun control laws after the May massacre of 12 people in Virginia Beach flopped when the Republican-controlled state legislature acquiesced to his call for a July special session but left without a vote...
November 7, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Protester arrested for alleged assault on EWU campus during clash with students
CHENEY, Wash. — A large group of counter-protesters gathered on the Eastern Washington University campus on Thursday afternoon in response to a few speakers who were protesting on campus.
Students on campus said the speakers were anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion. They held signs, including one that said "Worship Christ, God only shall you serve."...
November 7, 2019 | Federalism
Animals will soon be gaining more rights as both federal and state legislation aim to increase protections
A federal animal cruelty bill has passed both the U.S. House and Senate.
The president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund says she's confident it will be signed into law.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT Act, makes prosecuting those accused of the most heinous crimes against animals easier...
November 5, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Boston U.S. Appeals Court Hears Arguments On Due Process For Students Accused Of Sexual Assault
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston heard oral arguments Tuesday on what rights a private college must give to a student accused of sexual assault.
The case, John Doe v. Boston College, involves a current male BC student accused of sexually assaulting a female BC student in November of 2018...
October 28, 2019 | Student Rights
How a lawsuit over Detroit schools could have an ‘earth-shattering’ impact
After two years of struggling to pass any of his community college classes, Jamarria Hall, 19, knows this for certain: His high school did not prepare him.
The four years he spent at Detroit’s Osborn High School were “a big waste of time,” he said, recalling 11th and 12th grade English classes where students were taught from materials labeled for third or fourth graders, and where long-term substitutes showed movies instead of teaching...
| Separation of Powers
House to take first vote related to Trump impeachment inquiry
The House of Representatives on Thursday is expected to hold its first floor vote related to its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump by voting on a resolution to formalize the impeachment proceedings...
October 30, 2019 | Property Rights
Lead in NJ water: The murky problem between property rights and replacing pipes
As New Jersey's political leaders look to address the pervasive problem of lead in water, it's not just the $2 billion price tag that presents a challenge to eliminating the threat in old pipes.
Local pipe replacement efforts can be hampered by unreachable landlords or owners unwilling to allow access to their property, a fight that could turn into a legal battle, experts say...
October 28, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Judge blocks suspension of Maine high school student who posted note in bathroom about ‘rapist’
A federal judge says a Maine sophomore was expressing free speech when she warned classmates about a “rapist” at school through a note in the bathroom.
U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker has blocked a three-day suspension of 15-year-old Aela Mansmann, who was accused of “bullying” at Cape Elizabeth High School after she wrote a note that read “there’s a rapist in our school and you know who it is” and stuck it to a mirror in the women’s bathroom...
October 29, 2019 | Gun Rights
Judge strikes down Pittsburgh gun-control ordinances
An Allegheny County judge Tuesday struck down three Pittsburgh gun-control ordinances championed by Mayor Bill Peduto and several City Council members and passed in response to last year’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill...
October 29, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Dave Chappelle defends freedom of speech from ‘cancel culture’: ‘First Amendment is first for a reason’
Dave Chappelle spoke in favor of freedom of speech for comedians in the U.S. while accepting the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday.
The 46-year-old stand-up comedian received the accolade at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He went off-the-cuff while accepting the award onstage, USA Today reports...
October 29, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Rep. Banks Introduces Resolution Protecting Freedom of Conscience
Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) announced today that he’s introduced a joint resolution declaring protection for the freedom of conscience for all Americans...
October 28, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
‘Not welcome here’: protesters prepare for Trump Chicago visit
The last time Donald Trump came to Chicago, protesters forced the cancellation of a campaign rally. It was March 2016, and the reality TV star was on his way to becoming the Republican nominee for president. His events were already infamous for the violence they inspired in his supporters. The Friday evening rally on the campus of University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the most diverse colleges in the country, had a powder keg feel. It turned out even more chaotic than expected, marked by angry clashes between protesters and Trump supporters...
October 29, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
‘Lock him up’ chant ignites a debate among Democrats: Give Trump his own medicine, or stick to the high road?
It was one of the most memorable moments of Game 5 of the World Series, an eerily familiar chant that arose from the chorus of boos that erupted when President Trump was shown on a giant screen at Nationals Park.
“Lock him up! Lock him up!”...
October 29, 2019 | Federalism
Alabama Abortion Ban Is Temporarily Blocked by a Federal Judge
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked a near-total ban on abortions from taking effect next month in Alabama, ensuring the procedure remains legal and available in the state while the case winds its way through the courts.
In ruling against the Alabama law — the most far-reaching anti-abortion measure passed by state lawmakers this year — Judge Myron H. Thompson of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama wrote that it violates Supreme Court precedent and “defies” the Constitution...
October 24, 2019 | Student Rights
Furman policy encourages students not to wear Halloween costumes that ‘reinforce stereotypes,’ ‘demean’
Furman University is encouraging students to think critically about costumes this year ahead of Halloween.
Last year, the school added an example to its "Acts of Intolerance" policy to include themed parties with costumes that "reinforce stereotypes or are otherwise demeaning." The policy says incidences that demonstrate bias against others could prompt investigation from the university...
October 22, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Wisconsin Supreme Court offers sharp criticism in separation of powers case
Wisconsin Supreme Court justices in oral arguments Monday grilled attorneys on both sides of a major separation of powers case as they questioned the extent of the attorney general’s powers.
The case challenges laws Republicans passed in December after losing full control of state government. The laws limit the authority of Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats. The laws survived a previous challenge brought to the state Supreme Court by the League of Women Voters and others...
October 22, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Warren and Buttigieg Are Split on Big Tech as 2020 Presidential Race Heats Up
As Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to take the bench and testify in front of Congress on Wednesday about election security, breaking up big tech, and his proposal for a new cryptocurrency, political operatives are working hard to link up-and-coming 2020 candidate, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, to the politically controversial figure.
Just hours after a new poll out of Iowa put Buttigieg within a margin of error of 2020 frontrunner Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), news was leaked to Bloomberg that Zuckerberg had sent several resumes to the Buttigieg campaign recommending staff hires—two of whom were brought onboard...
October 20, 2019 | Gun Rights
Poll: Number Of Americans Who Favor Stricter Gun Laws Continues To Grow
The percentage of Americans who favor stricter gun laws is on the rise, though significant partisan divisions persist. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in September found that 60% of Americans say gun laws should be tougher, up from 57% last year and 52% in 2017.
The study, released this week, indicates that while a solid majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws, support remains split down party lines. Eighty-six percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said gun laws should be stricter than they are today, compared with 31% of their Republican counterparts...
October 21, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Australian newspapers black out front pages as media unites to defend press freedom
New York (CNN Business) The biggest news outlets in Australia, normally fierce rivals, are uniting in support of press freedom with a campaign including blacked-out newspaper front pages and slots on prime time broadcasts.
The newspapers and networks are trying to "to highlight the constraints on media organizations under strict national security legislation," Australia's ABC network reported...
October 23, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Why a lawmaker floated a bill to penalize use of a profane word (that rhymes with witch)
Massachusetts state Rep. Daniel Hunt has spent much of his week dodging rhetorical bullets. The nasty emails have poured in by the hundreds, he said. So have the nasty tweets and phone calls.
The Democrat from Boston became the target of viral outrage Monday after he introduced a bill in the state legislature that would penalize use of the word “bitch” in certain contexts. Under the proposed legislation, penalties would extend from fines of up to $200 to as much as six months in jail for repeat offenders...
October 7, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Supreme Court to take up gay rights, DACA, religious freedom in new term
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will tackle gay rights, protection for young immigrants known as Dreamers, religious freedom and gun rights — and also might consider the future of the Electoral College — in its new term beginning this week.
It's a marked change from last year, when the court kept the temperature low after the battle over Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation...
October 23, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Police In Riot Gear Arrest 14 Demonstrators Protesting Trump’s Visit To Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Four protests are planned today for President Donald Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh to speak at the Marcellus Shale Coalition Insight Conference downtown.
The first protest began at 9 a.m. at the Gateway Center T station in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.
The protesters marched from the T station over to Point State Park, where they blocked the roads near the Wyndham Hotel...
October 22, 2019 | Federalism
These 5 States Are the Next Battlegrounds in the Abortion Wars
When Americans think about the future of abortion, they often think of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion nationwide in Roe v. Wade. But over the past decade, the real battle over abortion hasn’t been in Washington — it’s played out in statehouses across the country, where legislators have passed restriction after restriction on the procedure.
Now, abortion rights activists believe they have a unique chance to wrest back those state legislatures from abortion opponents. And though Election Day 2020 is still more than a year away, they’re already preparing...
October 23, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Washington will vote on Affirmative Action with Referendum 88
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Voters in Washington will have a chance to decide if they want affirmative action to contribute to college admissions, state employment and state contracting.
Lawmakers in Olympia repealed the ban on Affirmative Action but then opponents collected enough signatures to put a referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot...
October 21, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
9th Circuit Upholds No Fly List Against Due Process Challenges
Four plaintiffs’ due process challenges against the government’s No Fly List failed because the criteria used to place them on the list weren’t vague, the Ninth Circuit said Oct. 21.
A person is placed on the list if there is a reasonable suspicion to believe they will commit a violent act of international or domestic terrorism. Anyone on the list may not board commercial aircraft flying to, from, or within the U.S...
October 11, 2019 | Separation of Powers
The Looming Constitutional Crisis
Beyond the politics and partisanship of the moment, President Donald Trump and majority Democrats in the House of Representatives are colliding in the most extraordinary test of the Constitution's separation of powers in many years.
"We are heading rapidly towards a constitutional crisis," David Rothkopf, a political scientist and specialist in international relations, told MSNBC. This is because Trump doesn't accept the legitimacy of Congress's bid to impeach him as sought by House Democrats, and the House under those Democrats won't back away from efforts to punish him for what critics call abuses of power...
October 15, 2019 | Property Rights
Civil asset forfeiture in South Carolina is unconstitutional, circuit court judge rules
A South Carolina circuit court judge in Horry County has ruled the state's civil asset forfeiture law unconstitutional, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments.
While the decision by 15th Circuit Court Judge Steven H. John doesn't set precedent beyond his courtroom, it could set the table for a state appellate court to determine whether South Carolina needs to enact reforms to its law...
October 12, 2019 | Gun Rights
California Just Passed a Slate of New Gun Control Measures, Expanding Red Flag Laws and Tightening Sales
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a sweeping package of new gun legislation into law Friday. The reforms to the state's gun laws come in the wake of a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July that left four dead, including the perpetrator...
October 15, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Hong Kong protesters slam LeBron James for comments about China, free speech
Furious Hong Kong protesters burned and stomped on LeBron James basketball jerseys on Tuesday as the Lakers superstar faced mounting outrage over his comments on their pro-democracy demonstrations.
Activists vented their fury by chanting profane slogans and holding up signs supporting Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, whom James on Monday called “misinformed or not really educated” for a since-deleted tweet of a meme that said “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”...
October 15, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
AG Barr blasts ‘militant secularists’ in speech on religious freedom
Attorney General William Barr blasted "militant secularists" and their attacks on Judeo-Christian values in a blistering speech at Notre Dame Friday, saying "religion has been under increasing attack" over the past five decades.
Barr, a devout Catholic, told students and faculty at the university's law school that "the problem is not that religion is being forced on others, the problem is that irreligion is being forced — secular values are being forced on people of faith."...
October 16, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
China slams ‘arrogant and dangerous’ U.S. over Hong Kong democracy bill as city’s dysfunction deepens
HONG KONG — China reacted angrily to the House of Representatives’ passage of a bill paving the way for sanctions against individuals who undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy, as pro-democracy lawmakers in the Asian financial hub prevented the city’s leader from delivering a much-anticipated policy speech in the legislature...
October 16, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
6 Takeaways From the October Democratic Debate
WESTERVILLE, Ohio — The CNN/New York Times debate on Tuesday night revealed new dynamics in the Democratic presidential race: Senator Elizabeth Warren took sustained fire from multiple rivals, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. struggled to make an impact and Mayor Pete Buttigieg and other candidates were newly aggressive in making their points...
October 15, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Mitch McConnell says Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment push violates Trump’s due process
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Democrats’ impeachment push Tuesday as unfair and a violation of President Trump’s rights, echoing the White House’s objections and sending an important signal to fellow Republicans.
Mr. McConnell said past impeachment efforts in the House have given the president and his team access to evidence and the power to suggest their own witnesses, and have given the minority party subpoena powers — all in an effort to be fair...
October 14, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Attorney defends judge who jailed juror over failure to show for trial
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Some in the local legal community are coming to the defense of a judge in Palm Beach County, who recently sentenced a young man to 10 days in jail for failing to fulfill his jury obligation.
Judge John Kastrenakes, of the 15th Judicial Circuit, is weathering strong criticism and facing calls for his discipline or removal...
October 8, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Christians urge California governor to veto bill for abortion pill access at colleges
LOS ANGELES (RNS) — Christian organizations are urging California Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto a bill that would require the state’s public universities to offer abortion medication through campus health clinics.
If signed into law, the “College Student Right to Access Act,” or SB 24, would take effect in January 2023. Newsom has until Sunday (Oct. 13) to make a decision.
Commonly known as “the abortion pill,” the prescription medication provides a nonsurgical process to end early pregnancy, for women who are less than 10 weeks along, by blocking hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy. While groups like the California Family Council claim the medication can be dangerous, scientific research has found it is safe and effective.
October 8, 2019 | Property Rights
Richland widow suing city for right to renovate home
A homeowner is taking on the city of Richland, suing the city for the right to renovate the home she's lived in 42 years.
Linda Cameron says she loves her one bedroom, one bathroom house but now it's time to expand.
"The house is bought and paid for," she explains. "Don't I have the right to have an extra bathroom, an extra bedroom and a bigger closet? I mean I don't think that's too much to ask."...
October 8, 2019 | Individual Liberties
‘It is still a crime’: DA explains law after teen only charged with misdemeanor after threatening to shoot up Wilmington movie theater
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Many reached out to WECT last week when a Wilmington teen was only charged with a misdemeanor after he allegedly made a social media post, threatening to shoot up a Wilmington movie theater.
The 16-year-old was taken into custody Friday and charged with one count of cyberstalking, according to deputies. He was released from jail after posting an unsecured $2,500 bond.
Last year, many juveniles were charged with felonies after making or sharing similar threats.
The difference? Those threats were made directly against a school.
October 7, 2019 | Gun Rights
Supreme Court will hear gun rights case in December, a temporary setback for gun control groups
WASHINGTON – Gun rights will be in the Supreme Court's sights this term after all.
The justices Monday kept a case about a New York City gun control regulation on its 2019 docket despite action by the city and state to erase the regulation from the books.
The court's refusal to dismiss the case represents a temporary victory for proponents of gun rights, who hope the high court will go beyond the letter of the law and expand Second Amendment protections from the home to public places...
October 8, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
NBA commissioner Adam Silver: ‘We will protect our employees’ freedom of speech’
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has stood firm in defending what he called the league’s values and the personal freedom of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to support protesters in Hong Kong, despite facing vehement attacks from Chinese fans and partners.
“The long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and Daryl Morey enjoyed that right as one of our employees,” said an emotional Silver as he met the media before the Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets exhibition match in Tokyo on Tuesday evening...
October 8, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Tennessee frequently mixes prayer and public schools, nonprofit complaints show
A public school teacher leading a prayer, which recently ignited a frenzy of support and criticism, is nothing new in Tennessee; the Volunteer State has been accused of mixing religion and school for years.
Letters provided by the Freedom From Religion Foundation show that the nonprofit organization, which calls its mission to protect the separation of church and state, has filed 52 prayer-related complaints since 2016 to school districts. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that statewide 81% of citizens identify as Christian while 19% of people say they belong to another faith, are unaffiliated or non-religious...
October 8, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Donald Trump’s Minneapolis Rally to be Met With Mass Protests: “America First’ is a Racist Lie’
A coalition of groups has announced it will be protesting against President Donald Trump's visit to Minneapolis, Minnesota, as he continues his 2020 re-election campaign.
Members from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Anti-War Committee, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union will hold demonstrate against Trump's political rally in a protest at the Target Center from 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 10...
October 7, 2019 | Federalism
Federal bill would allow marijuana businesses access to banking
OKLAHOMA CITY - Since medical marijuana started to be sold in Oklahoma, dispensary owners have been looking for a way to better protect their money, customers and employees. There is now federal legislation in the US Senate that could offer solutions to some of their problems.
"So, anyone who owns a dispensary has to deal with cash. It's very dangerous," said Kent Malave...
October 4, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Supreme Court to hear Louisiana abortion case in first test for conservative majority
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday added abortion rights to its docket for the new term, agreeing to hear a challenge to a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals...
October 8, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Jury says J&J must pay $8 billion in case over male breast growth linked to Risperdal
Johnson & Johnson must pay $8 billion in punitive damages to a man who previously won $680,000 over his claims that it failed to warn that young men using its antipsychotic drug Risperdal could grow breasts, a Philadelphia jury said on Tuesday.
The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas jury’s verdict in favor of Nicholas Murray came in the first case in which a Pennsylvania jury had been able to consider awarding punitive damages in one of thousands of Risperdal cases pending in the state...
October 7, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Supreme Court Weighs Ending Non-Unanimous Jury Verdicts in Criminal Cases
WASHINGTON — Almost every part of the Bill of Rights applies to both the federal government and to the states, but the Supreme Court on Monday wrestled with whether to tolerate a rare exception for non-unanimous jury verdicts in criminal cases. Such verdicts are forbidden in federal trials under the Sixth Amendment but permitted in ones held in state court.
There seemed little doubt that the justices would have found the question fairly easy absent a confusing 1972 decision that said the Constitution required federal juries to render unanimous verdicts but allowed divided state juries. The vote was 4 to 1 to 4, and only Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., who cast the controlling vote, said federal and state cases could be treated differently...
October 1, 2019 | Student Rights
Virginia teacher sues after being fired for refusing to call trans student ‘he’
A Virginia high school teacher who was fired for refusing to use a transgender student’s new pronouns has filed a lawsuit.
The Washington Post reported that Peter Vlaming filed suit on Monday against West Point Public Schools, a system outside Richmond.
The French teacher was fired in December 2018, having told superiors at West Point high school his religion prevented him from using male pronouns for a student who had informed the school of his transition during the previous summer...
October 2, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Trump lashes out at Democrats over impeachment probe — live updates
Washington -- President Trump angrily lashed out at Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry and the whistleblower whose complaint prompted it, accusing a House chairman of treason and saying the anonymous individual's identity should be disclosed...
September 28, 2019 | Property Rights
Eminent domain process for Keystone XL pipeline begins in Nebraska
LINCOLN — Jeanne Crumly said she got a “gut punch” Friday morning — notification that she was being formally sued to obtain right of way across her Holt County farm for the Keystone XL pipeline.
She pledged to fight the eminent domain action.
Court records indicate that TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, has filed at least 90 lawsuits since Sept. 20 asking courts across Nebraska to assign appraisers to determine the cost of obtaining right of way for the 36-inch crude oil pipeline. It is the first step in obtaining right of way via eminent domain, the legal process that allows the taking of property for public purposes, and a first step toward allowing construction...
October 2, 2019 | Gun Rights
Biden’s gun control plan would impose strict regulations on owners of assault-style rifles
Joe Biden is proposing to force owners of assault-style rifles to either sell their firearms through a voluntary buyback program or register them with the federal government under the same law that was first used to strictly control sales of machine guns in the wake of the gangland shootings of the 1920s and '30s.
The gun control plan that Biden's campaign unveiled on Wednesday also aims to tackle urban gun violence with an eight-year, $900 million program that would go toward efforts to combat shootings in 40 cities with the highest rates of gun violence...
October 2, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Singapore ‘fake news’ law comes into effect, critics concerned of threat to free speech
Singapore’s controversial “fake news” law took effect Wednesday despite critics warning the new rules may serve to suppress free speech by giving the government the power to determine what is false.
The law, which was passed in May, requires news and social media sites to correct content the government deems false or damaging and, in some cases, entirely remove the content...
October 2, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
At Vatican conference, Pompeo calls for protecting religious freedom
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on Wednesday criticized governments that wield absolute power as threats to religious freedom, as he scrambled to contain a political crisis back home.
Amid a growing storm in Washington over an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Pompeo went to the Vatican to urge it and other nations to join the Trump administration in an alliance to promote global religious freedom. He told a conference on human dignity and faith that when governments hold all the power, religion is a threat...
October 1, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Hong Kong Protester Shot by Police as National Day Demonstrations Descend Into Widespread Violence
HONG KONG—A police officer shot a young antigovernment protester in the chest during the worst day of violent unrest to hit Hong Kong in half a century, as Beijing celebrated the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in mainland China.
Video footage on Tuesday showed an officer firing his pistol at close range after Tsang Chi-kin, an 18-year-old high-school student, swung at him with a metal bar. Other footage showed the protester on the ground with blood spilling from his chest...
September 28, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Climate scientists say Greta Thunberg’s efforts are building real momentum
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg’s searing address at the United Nations earlier this week earned enthusiastic praise from climate researchers, with many saying that the 16-year-old has found ways to raise awareness of climate science, galvanize support and resonate with people in ways that they have struggled to for decades.
“Speaking as a climate change scientist who has been working on this issue for 20 years and saying the same thing for 20 years, she is getting people to listen, which we have failed to do,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change & Development in Bangladesh...
October 1, 2019 | Federalism
Federal judge blocks Georgia anti-abortion law
A federal judge handed an early win to abortion rights activists Tuesday by blocking Georgia’s restrictive law from going into effect — but it is only the first step as a lawsuit makes its way through the court system.
District Judge Steve C. Jones’ ruling stops House Bill 481 from taking effect Jan. 1 while the case plays out. Anti-abortion activists are hoping the case winds up in the U.S. Supreme Court...
October 1, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Judge: Jury must come to unanimous decision in shooting of three
A jury must come to a unanimous decision when it decides whether Ian Howard is guilty of shooting and injuring three other people, a judge ruled.
Howard's attorneys, Stephen Singer and Elliot Brown, argued in front of 15th Judicial District Court Judge Jules Edwards III that the jury must reach a unanimous verdict, despite a law requiring a unanimous jury only applying to crimes committed after Jan. 1, 2019...
October 2, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Jury Awards $27 Million To Massachusetts Man Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder
A man who served nearly three decades for a murder he didn't commit was awarded $27 million — $1 million for each year he was in prison — by a federal jury last month.
When the jury foreman read out the award, "everybody started crying and stuff like that," said Mark Schand.
Schand was convicted in 1987 of a nightclub shooting in Springfield, Mass., that killed a female bystander. In 2013, a judge considered new evidence — uncovered by the innocence organization Centurion Ministries — and let him go...
September 19, 2019 | Student Rights
UW Oshkosh student says his rights have been violated in sexual assault investigation, pushes federal lawsuit
Fallout from a sexual encounter between two UW Oshkosh students has landed in federal court, with the male plaintiff arguing that the school has “flagrantly violated” his constitutional rights in pursuing the matter.
The case stems from a party sponsored on March 16 by a campus sorority at Winkler’s Westward Ho on County Road S, according to court papers. One of the sorority sisters invited a member of a campus fraternity to attend as her guest, and the two of them took part in the event along “with many other male and female students of the university,” the court filing says...
September 25, 2019 | Separation of Powers
With little to lose, Orange County Democrats throw support behind Trump impeachment
To understand how rapidly the political calculations over impeachment within the Democratic Party have changed, look to Orange County’s congressional delegation.
For months, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was resistant to launching an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, in part out of concern for dozens of members who flipped conservative-leaning districts last year, including seven in California...
September 24, 2019 | Property Rights
Mesa wants to take land through eminent domain. Owner says he’s being shorted
The Mesa City Council approved Monday for the city to acquire eight acres of land, likely through eminent domain, to construct a new public safety facility for police and fire departments.
Eminent domain is a government’s right to seize private property for public use if necessary, while paying the original owner “just compensation.”...
September 25, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Maryland Health Officials Prepare For Smoking Age Increase
BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland’s health department is reaching out to retailers to prepare them for an increase in the age when people can buy tobacco.
Starting Tuesday, the age for buying tobacco products in Maryland will increase from 18 to 21.
The law will also apply to electronic smoking devices and vaping...
September 22, 2019 | Gun Rights
Beto O’Rourke ‘take your AR-15’ debate quip inspires gun rights activists to organize, take action
Gun rights activists are reveling in Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke’s call to “take” popular semiautomatic rifles such as the AR-15 from people, saying it finally revealed Democrats’ true intentions and will further complicate Congress’ push for new gun control laws in the wake of mass shootings.
Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said he was “ecstatic” when he initially heard Mr. O’Rourke’s vow to confiscate firearms.
September 23, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Climate Protesters Snarl Traffic but Washington Still Goes to Work
WASHINGTON — Climate activists had pledged to bring the nation’s capital to a standstill Monday morning. That did not quite happen, but the blockades of major intersections, street dances and a smattering of arrests continued the effort by protesters to raise the profile of climate change as a political issue...
September 24, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
At UN, Trump focuses on religious freedom, not climate
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Donald Trump made his political priorities clear Monday within an hour of arriving at the United Nations for a three-day visit: He breezed by a major climate change summit to focus instead on religious persecution, an issue that resonates with his evangelical supporters.
The climate summit, a centerpiece of this year’s U.N. schedule, was not on Trump’s agenda at all. But he stopped in to observe for about 15 minutes before heading to what he saw as the main event, a meeting on protecting religious freedom...
September 24, 2019 | Federalism
Trump Administration Threatens to Cut U.S. Highway Funds From California
WASHINGTON — The political war between California and the Trump administration escalated Monday with a letter from Andrew Wheeler, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, warning that Washington would withhold federal highway funds from the state if it did not rapidly address a decades-long backlog of state-level pollution control plans.
The letter is the latest parry between President Trump and the liberal West Coast state that he appears to relish antagonizing. California’s recent actions on clean air and climate change policy have blindsided and enraged him, according to two people familiar with the matter...
September 25, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Internal documents showed TikTok censoring topics that would anger China
TikTok, the buzzy spiritual heir apparent to Vine, has a history of censoring political content in line with the Chinese government, internal documents viewed by The Guardian reveal.
The documents, which provided guidelines for TikTok's moderators, broke infringing content into two categories: "violations" and "visible to self." Violations would result in the content being taken down, while videos marked "visible to self" would be viewable by the user who posted them but invisible to everyone else on the app...
September 19, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
“Farce of due process”: Lawyers denounce new border tent courts for migrants
Their first court hearing on American soil was scheduled for 12:30 p.m., but they were instructed by U.S. officials to show up at 4:30 a.m. to one of the ports of entry connecting Brownsville, Texas and the Mexican border city of Matamoros, a hotspot in turf wars between rival cartels that the State Department warns Americans not to travel to...
September 25, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Columbia family accused of jury tampering, stalking juror in major SC drug trial
Four people at a recent major Columbia federal drug trafficking trial allegedly stalked a juror as he was driving home and offered him money to sabotage any jury verdict, court records show.
But the juror promptly reported the jury tampering attempt to court officials, according to court records...
September 13, 2019 | Student Rights
Federal judge supports student’s right to hand out valentines with Bible messages at Wisconsin technical college
A federal judge in Green Bay ruled Friday that Northeast Wisconsin Technical College violated the First Amendment when officials ordered a student to stop handing out Valentine's Day cards containing messages from the Bible, including "Jesus Loves You!" and "God is Love!"
Polly Olsen, 29, a Green Bay woman studying to become a paralegal, filed a lawsuit against the college a little more than a year ago and came to the attention of President Donald Trump, who invited her to the White House in March...
September 15, 2019 | Separation of Powers
New Hampshire’s GOP Governor Goes on Veto Streak
New Hampshire’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu, is squaring off against the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature by flexing his power to just say no.
The governor has vetoed 55 bills this year, by far the most in modern state history. It took three governors seven years to produce that many vetoes in the Granite State before the recent binge...
September 17, 2019 | Property Rights
City of Savannah uses eminent domain to fight blight
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The city of Savannah continues to tackle blight issues.
On Tuesday, Sept. 17, the city and several other partners will break ground on the first home being built on blight property through eminent domain, a court process which allows a municipality to buy a blighted property.
The eminent domain process wasn’t an option for city leaders until recently, and now, all eyes will be on West Savannah as the city prepares to build a new home thanks to eminent domain...
September 17, 2019 | Gun Rights
Ohio Senate starts debate on 7 proposed gun laws
State senators on Tuesday began debating multiple gun control bills that call for expanding background checks for firearms purchases, raising the legal purchase age to 21 for all firearms and establishing a legal means to remove guns from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others...
September 16, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Lawyers say leaks prosecution violates freedom of the press
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Lawyers for a former intelligence analyst charged with leaking classified documents about military campaigns to a reporter say the case should be dismissed because the law is being used to suppress freedom of the press.
Daniel Hale of Nashville, Tennessee, is charged in federal court in Alexandria under the World War I-era Espionage Act. That law makes it a crime to disclose national defense information to those not entitled to receive it...
September 18, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Christian artists celebrate religious freedom win in Arizona Supreme Court
A pair of Christian artists are celebrating a religious freedom win at the Arizona Supreme Court, which found the government cannot force them to make invitations for a same-sex wedding.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, the owners of Brush & Nib Studio, appeared on "Fox & Friends" Wednesday and said they were "extremely excited" at the 4-3 decision that reversed a lower-court ruling in favor of Phoenix's anti-discrimination ordinance...
September 16, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Climate Strike N.Y.C.: 1.1 Million Can Skip School for Protest
When New York City announced that public school students could skip classes without penalties to join the youth climate strikes planned around the world on Friday, you could almost hear a sigh of relief.
Before the announcement, the protests, to be held three days ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit here, had thrown a new complication into the usual back-to-school chaos: With the protests framed as a cry to protect their futures from climate disaster, should students heed the call?...
September 18, 2019 | Federalism
Trump bars California from setting auto emissions rules, setting up court fight
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his administration is barring California from setting its own auto emissions standards, setting up a fresh struggle over the president’s push to unravel restrictions on businesses.
In tweets announcing the move, the president said the White House “is revoking” a federal waiver that allowed the state to craft its own rules on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. Trump argued he blocked California’s ability to do so “in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER.”...
September 18, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Youth climate activists to join Sweden’s Thunberg in protest at U.S. Supreme Court
WASHINGTON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Seven young Americans who have sued the U.S. government for failing to take action on climate change will join Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on the steps of the Supreme Court on Wednesday to urge political leaders and lawmakers to support their legal fight and take action to phase out the use of fossil fuels...
September 11, 2019 | Separation of Powers
NC House Republicans override Gov. Cooper’s budget veto while he’s at 9/11 memorial event
RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina House Republicans called a surprise vote and overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto on Wednesday morning, Cooper said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The vote was taken while Cooper was at a 9/11 memorial event.
According to a tweet by State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg), almost half of the House members were absent when the vote was taken, which resulted in a 55-9 tally...
September 11, 2019 | Property Rights
Watchdog says it will probe Trump’s efforts to get private land to build wall
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) told Senate Democrats it will probe the Trump administration’s efforts to use eminent domain to acquire land to build the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
“GAO accepts your request as work that is within the scope of its authority. At the current time we anticipate that staff with the required skills will be available to initiate an engagement in about three months,” Orice Williams Brown, the managing editor for congressional relations at GAO, wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats...
September 11, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Trump administration will propose banning flavors used in e-cigarette
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration will propose banning thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes to combat a recent surge in underage vaping.
The Food and Drug Administration will develop guidelines to remove from the market all e-cigarette flavors except tobacco, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters during an Oval Office appearance with the president, first lady Melania Trump and the acting FDA commissioner, Ned Sharpless...
September 10, 2019 | Gun Rights
Gun rights activists test Walmart request not to open-carry guns into store
Gun rights activists in Texas are testing Walmart’s request not to open-carry in stores by doing just that.
David Amad, the vice president of Open Carry Texas, told The New York Times the 38,000 members of his group have openly carried their guns inside Walmart stores since the retailer announced last week it is “respectfully requesting” customers to no longer openly bring guns into its stores...
September 11, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Baptisms on the football field land Springfield High in crosshairs of group against ‘endorsing religion to students’
A Middle Tennessee school district is fighting back after a national nonprofit lodged a formal complaint accusing educators of violating the U.S. Constitution when they allowed two students athletes to be baptized on the school’s football field last month in front of teammates.
Robertson County Director of Schools Chris Causey confirmed Wednesday that the baptisms took place after football practice at Springfield High School on Aug. 7...
September 12, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Greenpeace activists suspend themselves from Houston’s Fred Hartman Bridge to protest fossil fuel
Several environmental activists suspended themselves from the Fred Hartman Bridge in Houston Thursday morning to protest the use of fossil fuels and challenge Democratic presidential candidates preparing for the debate to hold the industry accountable.
Greenpeace USA, a non-governmental environmental organization, said in a tweet that they were demonstrating at the bridge to "confront" President Donald Trump and "the oil industry."...
September 10, 2019 | Federalism
Southern U.S. states have closed 1,200 polling places in recent years: rights group
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - States across the American South have closed nearly 1,200 polling places since the Supreme Court weakened a landmark voting-discrimination law in 2013, according to a report released by a civil-rights group on Tuesday...
September 5, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
6 Takeaways from the CNN Democratic Climate Change Town Hall Meeting
The ten leading Democratic candidates for president gathered at a town hall meeting in New York City Wednesday, broadcast on CNN. They answered questions about how they would address climate change. Here are six takeaways...
September 11, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Indiana Supreme Court to hear appeal of Gary man on death row for slaying his wife, two stepchildren
The Indiana Supreme Court will today hear the appeal of a former Gary man who was sentenced to death in 2013 after a jury convicted him in the Aug. 6, 2007, slaughter of his wife and two teenage stepchildren.
Lawyers for Kevin Isom, 53, claim his previous counsel was ineffective, and are asking the state to allow a new trial or, alternatively, a resentencing...
September 3, 2019 | Student Rights
School board files appeal to defend its transgender policy
RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia school board has filed a federal appeal to defend its transgender bathroom ban.
The Gloucester County School Board's appeal appeared Tuesday on the docket for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. Briefs containing legal arguments will come next...
August 29, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Wash. Legislature to sue Gov. Inslee over line-item veto
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state Legislature plans to sue Gov. Jay Inslee, saying he overstepped his authority for a series of one-sentence vetoes in this year's transportation budget.
Lawmakers said Thursday the governor violated the constitutional ban against vetoing less than a full section of legislation...
September 4, 2019 | Property Rights
Harrisburg landowners outraged at eminent domain compensation
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Former landowners are up in arms over eminent domain issues amid construction of the new federal courthouse.
Fred Jackson says his family didn’t receive fair market value during land seizures for the Northern Gateway Project, the project to widen North Seventh Street and ease traffic to the future courthouse and State Archives Building...
September 3, 2019 | Gun Rights
Ted Cruz, Alyssa Milano trade barbs on Bible, ‘God-given’ gun rights
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took actress and liberal activist Alyssa Milano to task over her faith-based question about the Bible and the Second Amendment.
On Sunday, Milano responded to Republican Texas state Rep. Matt Schaefer's tweet that he was "NOT going to use the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans. Period. None of these so-called gun-control solutions will work to stop a person with evil intent" following a shooting rampage in Odessa that killed seven and injured at least 22...
September 3, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Judge tells White House to reinstate reporter’s pass
A judge has blocked the White House’s decision to revoke the press pass of Playboy correspondent Brian Karem over a Rose Garden showdown in July with former White House aide Sebastian Gorka.
U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras issued a decision Tuesday evening granting a preliminary injunction restoring Karem’s so-called “hard pass” on the grounds that the reporter had no clear notice of the rules governing press behavior at events like the presidential appearance that preceded the heated exchange...
September 4, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Firing of doctor sets off fight over assisted suicide law
DENVER — After watching his mother die slowly when he stopped her medication, Neil Mahoney knew he wanted the option of ending his own life peacefully when a doctor told him in July that he had months to live after being diagnosed with cancer.
A physician was willing to help him do that under Colorado’s medically assisted suicide law, but she was fired by Centura Health, a Christian-affiliated health system, for violating its guidelines on the issue...
September 4, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Hong Kong’s Leader, Carrie Lam, to Withdraw Extradition Bill That Ignited Protests
HONG KONG — Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said Wednesday that the government would withdraw a contentious extradition bill that ignited months of protests in the city, moving to quell the worst political crisis since the former British colony returned to Chinese control 22 years ago...
September 4, 2019 | Federalism
Colorado Joins 31 States In Case Against Student Loan Servicer, Navient
DENVER (CBS4) – Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans are trying to pay off their student loans and a high-profile, private loan servicer is under investigation. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser joined 31 other state attorneys general in protecting states’ rights to protect consumers against these companies...
September 4, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Judge Rules Terrorism Watchlist Violates Constitutional Rights
WASHINGTON — A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that a federal government database that compiles people deemed to be “known or suspected terrorists” violates the rights of American citizens who are on the watchlist, calling into question the constitutionality of a major tool the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security use for screening potential terrorism suspects...
September 4, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Jury instruction error could result in less prison time for Akron man convicted of murder
An error in the instructions given to a Summit County jury could result in less prison time for an Akron man convicted of murder.
The instructions didn’t make it clear that jurors — in order to find Kennae Baker guilty of aggravated murder in the shooting death of another man — had to find that he did so while committing another crime. In this case, the crime was aggravated burglary...
August 7, 2019 | Student Rights
A satirical student publication’s free speech rights may have been violated, court says
CALIFORNIA — A student-run satirical publication will proceed with its lawsuit against the University of California San Diego now that an appeals court has reversed a lower court’s dismissal of the case.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit says that the university may have violated students’ rights to free speech. The ruling is a victory for free speech and First Amendment advocates, and for student journalism on campus affected by punishment aimed at The Koala...
August 29, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Senate Republicans tell Supreme Court not to be ‘cowed’ by Democratic senators
All 53 Republicans in the Senate urged the Supreme Court on Thursday not to be “cowed” by a brief from a handful of Democratic senators that warned that the court risks its impartial reputation if it continues to hear a gun case that the Democrats consider moot.
In a letter to the court’s clerk, the Republicans said the brief filed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and four other Democrats “openly threatened this court with political retribution if it failed to dismiss the petition as moot.”...
August 27, 2019 | Property Rights
Harrisburg takes over public works property via eminent domain for $2.2 million
The city of Harrisburg filed court documents this month to take over the former Brenner auto dealership on Paxton Street, which has served as the city’s public works building since late 2013.
The city filed “declaration of taking” paperwork in the Court of Common Pleas Friday to take the property via eminent domain in exchange for $2.2 million, which is the amount the city calculated as fair compensation after hiring an appraiser...
August 28, 2019 | Gun Rights
Meet the Democratic senator trying to negotiate gun control with Trump
Sen. Chris Murphy’s "soul-crushing" day came less than a month after he won his 2012 election to represent Connecticut in the Senate. It would change the trajectory of his career.
A lone shooter on Dec. 14, 2012, opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 26 people — including 20 children all aged 6 or 7...
August 25, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Blasphemy laws are quietly vanishing in liberal democracies
UNTIL LAST month, a Greek citizen could be jailed for up to two years for “publicly and maliciously blaspheming” against God, the Greek Orthodox church or “any other permitted religion”. In one of its last acts before losing an election, a leftist government quietly dropped this article as part of a revision of the criminal code...
August 28, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Judge denies nuclear protesters’ religious freedom defense
(RNS) — A federal judge has denied a request by a group of Catholic peace activists to dismiss charges against them for breaking into a nuclear submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia, last year to protest nuclear weapons.
The seven activists, individually and through their lawyers, used a novel defense, citing the Religion Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law that says the government may not burden the faith practices of a person with sincerely held religious beliefs...
August 26, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
In Hong Kong, Protest Photo Evokes Memories of Tiananmen Era
One man wore a white shirt and black trousers, and carried two shopping bags. He stared down a tank.
The other wore shorts and a tank top, and carried a furled umbrella. He stared down a police officer who had a weapon drawn.
The two photos are drawing comparisons as compelling images of outmatched citizens standing up to Chinese authority...
August 28, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
The missing pieces of America’s education
For this project on how students learn about slavery in American schools, The Washington Post asked noted historians to write an essay on aspects of slavery that are misunderstood, poorly taught or not covered at all in the nation’s classrooms. From the cruel separation of families to the resistance by enslaved people and the widespread enslavement of Native Americans, these contributions address gaps in our common knowledge about what the practice of slavery has meant for America.
August 26, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
California sues over Trump immigration policy on indefinite detention of migrant children
California opened another front in its legal battle with the Trump administration over immigration policies on Monday as officials announced a federal lawsuit challenging a new rule that allows indefinite detention of migrant children and their families...
August 26, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Why Pennsylvania jury duty pays $9 per day
For two years in a row, Melissa Correll has been called for jury duty in Philadelphia. The librarian at Arcadia University wound up not being picked for a trial either time. But the Germantown resident was compensated for waiting around for the better part of two days...
August 19, 2019 | Student Rights
A Texas school district is being sued after a student was forced to color in his haircut with a Sharpie
School officials in Pearland, Texas, are being sued after a seventh-grade student was forced to fill in his hair design with a black Sharpie marker earlier this year. A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Sunday against Principal Tony Barcelona, Discipline Clerk Helen Day, another official and the Pearland School District...
August 22, 2019 | Separation of Powers
North Carolina’s Dem governor vetoes bill requiring police cooperation with ICE on illegal immigrants
In vetoing a bill calling for better state and local cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is favoring the interests of illegal immigrants over basic public safety, the state's Republicans argued Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Cooper, a Democrat, nixed a proposal that would have made it mandatory for state and local law enforcement to comply with detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)...
August 14, 2019 | Property Rights
Judge Attacks “Kafkaesque Regime” That Lets Pipeline Companies Seize Land With Eminent Domain
In an opinion that referenced Dante Alighieri, Franz Kafka, and If You Give a Mouse A Cookie, a federal judge blasted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for creating a “seemingly endless administrative limbo” that traps property owners who want to protect their land from natural-gas pipelines. The case, Allegheny Defense Project v. FERC, centers around Michelle and Gary Erb, who were forced to sell their land in rustic, southeastern Pennsylvania to Transco, in order to clear the way for the company’s Atlantic Sunrise Project, a 200-mile pipeline that connects to the gas-rich Marcellus Shale...
August 21, 2019 | Individual Liberties
‘Virtual neighborhood watch’: Baltimore faith group building surveillance network with help from Amazon Ring
A coalition of religious leaders in Northwest Baltimore has secured $15,000 in slots funding to build a network of private surveillance cameras with the help of Amazon's Ring, hoping it will aid police in fighting crime without exposing residents to retaliatory violence...
August 17, 2019 | Gun Rights
California gun rights group look to overturn state ban on assault weapons
A gun rights group in San Diego sued Thursday to block California from enforcing an assault weapons ban, citing a federal court ruling earlier this year that struck down a state prohibition against high-capacity magazines.
The challenge against California’s firearms laws, which are among the strictest in the country, follows a pair of deadly mass shootings this month involving military-style rifles...
August 21, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Sheriff in conservative Malheur County defends free press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Journalists are defending a small Eastern Oregon newspaper after a county attorney asked the sheriff to investigate whether a reporter broke the law by trying repeatedly to get comments from an official for a story...
August 21, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Federal judge rules in favor of A-State in free speech case
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - The 1st Amendment and in particular, free speech, is not absolute, with rules created by state and local governments, making the exercise of free speech not absolute in certain cases, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes ruled in favor of Arkansas State University on the claims of Turning Point USA at Arkansas State University and Ashlyn Hoggard, dismissing the complaint of the group and Hoggard with prejudice...
August 20, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Dolores Huerta among Fresno protesters handcuffed in county building. Here’s why
Eight protesters including Dolores Huerta were handcuffed and removed from the Fresno County Hall of Records on Tuesday following a protest to try to get raises for workers who take care of the elderly and disabled.
Wearing purple T-shirts, hundreds of people chanted and clanged cowbells in the hallway just outside of the chambers as the Board of Supervisors met Tuesday morning...
August 21, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Fired Policeman Can’t Sue Department After Settlement
DENVER (CN) — A former Utah police officer who shot and killed a woman in her car cannot resue the city that fired him — after it rehired him and settled — the 10th Circuit affirmed Tuesday.
“[Shaun] Cowley received all the process that the due process clause requires,” 10th Circuit Judge Joel M. Carson III wrote for the three-judge panel, upholding summary judgment for West Valley City...
August 21, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Meet the woman in charge of giving you jury duty
TWIN FALLS — It might be one of the most dreaded envelopes to receive in the mail.
“Dear Citizen,” it begins. “Welcome to jury service.”
While taking time off work or interrupting other daily activities to sit in a courtroom for jury selection and, possibly, a multi-day trial, is inconvenient, Twin Falls County jury commissioner Jerry Woolley pointed out how, next to military service, jury duty is key to the American way of life...
August 9, 2019 | Student Rights
School that barred transgender student Gavin Grimm from boys’ restroom violated his rights, judge rules
The constitutional rights of a transgender student were violated when he was barred from using the boys’ restroom at his Virginia high school, a federal judge ruled Friday.
The student, Gavin Grimm, said the ruling sent the message that “discrimination is not legal in America.” But the 20-year-old, who has graduated from the high school where he was banned from the boys’ restroom, acknowledged that the school system could appeal the decision, and it is “likely that this is not the end.”...
August 11, 2019 | Separation of Powers
GOP governor vetoes New Hampshire bill to create independent redistricting commission
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have created an independent commission to draw the state's legislative, congressional and Executive Council district maps following the 2020 elections.
In his veto, Sununu asserted that issues related to partisan gerrymandering were "extremely rare" in New Hampshire and that an independent commission would run counter to the ideas stated in the state's constitution...
August 8, 2019 | Property Rights
Sandy Springs paying $862K to settle eminent domain suit
Sandy Springs has agreed to pay an insurance agent $862,500 to settle a lawsuit arising from the city’s condemnation of his downtown office building last year...
August 12, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Court rules Facebook users can sue over facial recognition
(FOX NEWS) -- A federal appeals court is allowing a group of users to sue Facebook on claims the social network collected their facial data without consent.
According to Fox News, on Thursday, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected Facebook's efforts to dismiss the ongoing class-action lawsuit, which could potentially require the company to pay billions in compensation...
August 10, 2019 | Gun Rights
Elizabeth Warren unveils gun control plan that pushes for higher taxes on firearms and bullets
Presidential contender Elizabeth Warren on Saturday unveiled her plan to combat gun violence, including proposals to triple the tax applied to firearm sales and raise the tax on ammunition even more dramatically.
The plan, announced in a post on the blogging platform Medium, comes in the wake of back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left at least 31 people dead...
August 7, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Conservative think tank sues Wisconsin’s Evers over access
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A conservative think tank has filed a federal lawsuit against Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, alleging he violated the First Amendment rights of staff members who were denied access to a press briefing and kept off an advisory list sent to other reporters.
The MacIver Institute for Public Policy filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Madison alleging that Evers violated its staffers’ constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of the press and equal access...
August 10, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
White House proposal would have FCC and FTC police alleged social media censorship
A draft executive order from the White House could put the Federal Communications Commission in charge of shaping how Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and other large tech companies curate what appears on their websites, according to multiple people familiar with the matter...
August 11, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
US fencer takes knee at Pan Am Games in protest
A member of the U.S. men’s fencing team staged a national anthem protest at the Pan American Games, saying, “We must call for change.”
Race Imboden and two teammates were winners of gold in a team foil competition at the games in Lima, Peru, Friday and he took a knee on the podium at the medal ceremony...
August 9, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
UK, U.S. urge Tanzania to respect “due process” after journalist arrested
NAIROBI/DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Britain and the United States urged Tanzania on Friday to guarantee due process of law for a journalist arrested on charges that his lawyer and rights groups called politically motivated.
Erick Kabendera was charged on Monday with money laundering, tax evasion and leading organized crime. He was arrested the previous week over what police said were issues concerning his citizenship...
August 7, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Louisiana attorney asks for jurors who wouldn’t judge client’s face tattoos
An attorney representing a Louisiana man charged with murder asked for jurors who will overlook his client's face tattoos — which include skull horns and a set of teeth.
William Bottoms Jr., 29, faces two counts of second-degree murder stemming from the deaths of two men in June 2017. They were found shot in the head, in the back seat of a bar, covered with a sheet...
August 1, 2019 | Student Rights
Students’ free speech rights survive school prayer lawsuit
A judge’s ruling that struck down school-sponsored prayers at a South Carolina public school also represents a legal win for students’ individual rights, says a religious liberty attorney...
July 31, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Conservatives ask state Supreme Court to block Gov. Tony Evers’ budget vetoes
MADISON - Conservatives asked Wisconsin's high court Wednesday to overturn at least one of its precedents and undo budget vetoes Gov. Tony Evers issued four weeks ago.
The lawsuit was brought by three taxpayers with the help of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. It argues the Democratic governor exceeded his authority by doing what his predecessors from both parties have done — carving up a state budget to enact new policies...
August 3, 2019 | Property Rights
Should Rivers Have Same Legal Rights As Humans? A Growing Number Of Voices Say Yes
In early July, Bangladesh became the first country to grant all of its rivers the same legal status as humans. From now on, its rivers will be treated as living entities in a court of law. The landmark ruling by the Bangladeshi Supreme Court is meant to protect the world's largest delta from further degradation from pollution, illegal dredging and human intrusion...
August 2, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Homeland Security’s Civil Rights Unit Lacks Power To Protect Migrant Kids
The children's lawyer was incensed. Her two tiny clients — one of them blind — had been in a shelter for three months, separated from their mother.
The family had traveled from Mexico to the United States, reaching Nogales, Arizona, on March 1, 2018. Officials at the border found that the mother, Nadia Pulido, had "credible" reasons for seeking asylum from an ex-partner who, she says, beat her and stalked her after their relationship ended...
July 29, 2019 | Gun Rights
Maryland gun rights group is challenging state’s concealed carry law
A gun rights group is challenging Maryland's concealed carry laws, arguing that a clause requiring gun owners to provide “good and substantial reason” to receive a concealed carry permit is unconstitutional.
Maryland is one of 10 states considered a “may issue” state, meaning authorities have discretion over whether to issue concealed carry permits to individuals...
August 1, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
UK, Canada defend U.S. media freedom
ATLANTA — Great Britain and Canada are on the front lines, defending media freedom around the world.
But high-profile journalists and academics here say they are not just worried about oppressive governments and rogue regimes. They are concerned with peril much closer to home...
August 2, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
University of Florida pays $66K to settle free speech case
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The University of Florida has agreed to pay $66,000 and make some policy changes to settle a federal lawsuit brought by a conservative student organization.
Young Americans for Freedom claimed in the lawsuit filed in December that the school violated its members' free speech rights by denying equal access to student activity funds to pay for guest speakers...
August 2, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Students shut down major Montpelier intersection in climate protest
High schoolers shut down a key Montpelier intersection for almost an hour Friday, demanding an education that will prepare them for a “collapsing climate and economy.”
“The purpose of schools is to teach the skills and knowledge that students will need in their life,” said 15-year-old Iris Hsiang, a high schooler in Essex. “But now, those things are fundamentally changing.”...
August 2, 2019 | Federalism
Marijuana is on the ballot in 3 Michigan communities on Tuesday
Voters in three Michigan communities — Highland Park, Crystal Lake and Vanderbilt — will get to decide the future of marijuana in their towns on Tuesday.
In Highland Park and Vanderbilt, a proposal allowing marijuana businesses will be on the primary election ballot. But in Crystal Lake, a prohibition on pot shops will be on the ballot...
August 1, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Democrats express alarm over debate’s negative tone
Democratic lawmakers were left shaken and worried by Wednesday night’s bruising presidential debate, which left some fearing the fight will hurt the party and result in a damaged nominee...
August 1, 2019 | Citizen Juries
The Latest: Jury tells Katy Perry, others to pay $2.78M
A jury has found that Katy Perry, her collaborators and her record label must pay $2.78 million because the pop star’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” copied a Christian rap song...
July 12, 2019 | Student Rights
New Jersey passes ‘student borrower bill of rights’ in a bid to crack down on loan servicers
The New Jersey legislature has passed a “student borrower bill of rights” that regulates companies that service student loans, part of a national trend as America deals with its $1.6 trillion student-debt crisis.
The bill forces companies like Navient, FedLoan, and other student-loan servicers to register with the Department of Banking and Insurance and comply with borrower-friendly protections. Violations would attract a $10,000 fine the first time and $20,000 for subsequent ones. It also creates a student loan ombudsman in the state agency...
July 23, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Seattle council approves soda tax restrictions in face of veto threat
The Seattle City Council voted Monday to approve restrictions on sweetened beverage tax revenue to original food access programs.
Mayor Jenny Durkan has already threatened to veto that plan, but may find that difficult, with Monday’s measure passing by a veto-proof 7-1 margin. Regardless, she still intends on moving forward...
July 23, 2019 | Property Rights
Council approves property rights, other amendments to Livable Frederick
Frederick County’s Livable Frederick comprehensive plan will include protections for private property, after a vote Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council.
The council voted 6-0 to approve an amendment proposed by Councilman Phil Dacey to add language to the plan to state that it should “consider the rights of individual property owners” in its legislation, regulations or policies...
July 23, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Concord Coach Lines violates passengers’ rights by allowing immigration searches, ACLU says
As immigration agents in major U.S. cities have increased efforts to deport undocumented immigrants, civil rights organizations have ramped up efforts to remind private transportation organizations that complicity in such efforts violates individual civil rights...
July 18, 2019 | Gun Rights
Will Illinois’ new gun dealer license law reduce crime? Gun rights group say no, and file suit to overturn it
The Illinois State Rifle Association filed a lawsuit this week aiming to undo a new law that gives the state more authority over gun dealers.
The controversial legislation — which was passed during former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s tenure and signed by current Gov. J.B. Pritzker during his first days in office — makes it illegal for retailers to sell guns without being certified by the state. The requirement is an addition to the obligatory license issued by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives...
July 23, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
What Gets To Be A ‘Burger’? States Restrict Labels On Plant-Based Meat
It's a case of animal versus vegetable — and the steaks are high.
A growing number of states have been passing laws saying that only foods made of animal flesh should be allowed to carry labels like "meat," "sausage," "jerky," "burger" or "hot dog."...
July 22, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Puerto Rico Protests: Demonstrators Demand Governor’s Resignation
Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans filled miles of a major highway in San Juan on Monday in protest against Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló, who has resisted persistent calls for his resignation, in what appeared to be one of the largest demonstrations the island has seen...
July 22, 2019 | Federalism
Arkansas might be days away from becoming the seventh state with one abortion clinic
Depending on the outcome of a court decision this week, Arkansas could become the seventh state in the country to have only one abortion clinic. Women in the state could also lose access to any abortions after 10 weeks into their pregnancy...
July 22, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
‘Less Due Process Than People Get in Traffic Court’: ACLU Promises to Sue Trump Administration Over New Expedited Removal of Immigrants
The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to sue the Trump administration over its latest plan to ramp up the deportation of undocumented immigrants by allowing authorities to remove an individual without a hearing before a judge...
July 19, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Michigan Supreme Court orders new trial for man convicted by ‘coerced’ jury
A Michigan man who was sent to prison for 14 years after being convicted on gun charges, will get a new trial after the state Supreme Court ruled that the original trial jury was coerced into their verdict by the trial judge.
July 10, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Wisconsin GOP Proposes Constitutional Amendment Limiting Veto Power
Wisconsin Republicans are proposing a constitutional amendment that would prevent the governor from using his or her partial veto powers to increase spending in any bills.Sen. Dave Craig and Rep. Mike Kuglitsch began circulating the amendment for co-sponsors Monday. The move comes after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers used his partial veto powers last week to increase funding for K-12 schools by $65 million...
July 9, 2019 | Property Rights
Texas files eminent domain lawsuit to pull 2.5 acres from Cowboys Dancehall
SAN ANTONIO — Even when a honky-tonk hall is closed, a different type of "honk" fills the air.Traffic - and a lot of it - surrounds Cowboys Dancehall. The 16-acre property sits between Austin Highway, I-35, and the 410 Loop. I-35 is notorious for congestion and crashes during rush hour, but a change to the iconic San Antonio dance hall could change all that...
July 9, 2019 | Gun Rights
GOP-led Virginia Legislature abruptly adjourns gun session
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Less than two hours after beginning a special session called in response to a mass shooting, Virginia lawmakers abruptly adjourned Tuesday and postponed any movement on gun laws until after the November election...
July 10, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Saudis vexed at low ranking on press freedom index after Khashoggi murder
Officials in Saudi Arabia privately complained about the kingdom’s low ranking on an influential press freedom index, less than one year after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi murder squad...
July 6, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Heavy police presence in Washington for “Demand Free Speech” rally
Washington — Police in Washington, D.C., were on alert Saturday for possible clashes between right-wing groups and counter-protesters holding demonstrations in the nation's capital, but the "Demand Free Speech" rally remained largely peaceful. There were no major incidents reported at the protests in Freedom Plaza, just a few blocks from the White House...
July 5, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
The U.S. Is Championing The Right To Freedom Of Religion Or Belief Internationally
On June 21, 2019, the U.S. State Department delivered its annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom (the IRF Report) as is its obligation under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The IRF Report covers the period between January 1 and December 31, 2018 and identifies the numerous challenges to religious freedom worldwide...
July 9, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Eight arrested after protesters again target Utah’s Inland Port and clash with police
What began as a peaceful act of civil disobedience outside Salt Lake City Hall on Tuesday — with protesters holding giant sunflowers and poles depicting ducks, carrying signs decrying a massive development planned for the city’s northwest side — quickly devolved into violence...
July 10, 2019 | Federalism
Hawaii decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana for January 2020
Hawaii has become the 26th state to decriminalize possession of marijuana, a measure that will take effect Jan. 11, 2020. The new law will eliminate criminal penalties for possession of three grams or less of marijuana. Possession of those small amounts will only be punishable by fines of no more than $130...
July 9, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Virginia session to debate gun control adjourns without action
Republican Virginia lawmakers on Tuesday abruptly adjourned a special session aimed at gun control measures that was called following a mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building early last month...
July 10, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Missouri law excuses people age 75 and older from jury duty
Older Missouri residents soon will be able to get out of jury duty, if they so choose.Legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Mike Parson will allow anyone age 75 or older to ask a court to be excused from jury duty. The judge will have to grant the request...
July 3, 2019 | Student Rights
Sheffield University student wins Facebook post appeal
Felix Ngole, 39, was removed from a postgraduate social work course at the University of Sheffield in 2016 after posting the Facebook comment.Judges overturned a previous court ruling and said the university should reconsider Mr Ngole's case.The university said it was considering its response to the judgement...
July 2, 2019 | Property Rights
After 6-Year Battle, Florida Couple Wins The Right To Plant Veggies In Front Yard
Okra. Bell peppers. Cherry tomatoes. Jalapeños and squash.Those are some of the vegetables that Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Tom Carroll, planted in front of their home in Miami Shores, Fla., on Monday.That's the day a Florida law went into effect that nullifies local bans on vegetable gardens at residential properties. It was one of those ordinances that had forced the couple to uproot a garden that Ricketts had tended for 17 years...
July 2, 2019 | Individual Liberties
DNA-testing firms are lobbying to limit your right to genetic privacy
Home DNA testing can be fun. I’ve done it for myself and for my dog. One of us unexpectedly turned out to be 3.1% Italian. The other is mostly Saint Bernard.The less-fun side of the DNA-testing industry is the brave new world of genetic privacy...
July 3, 2019 | Gun Rights
Gov. Northam announces package of 8 bills aimed at gun control for special session
RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- Governor Ralph Northam has announced his legislative agenda for the special session he called on July 9.The special session is intended to address the gun violence emergency in Virginia, Gov. Northam wrote...
July 2, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Press freedom summit urges Mexico to reform journalist protections
On June 18, more than 400 people converged in Mexico City for CPJ's Mexico Press Freedom Summit. Energized by a sense that the country is at a point of profound political change under the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the conference delved into the threats for Mexican journalists...
July 1, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Ricky Gervais calls out liberal activists for ‘milkshaking’ trend, limiting free speech
Controversial comedian Ricky Gervais took a shot at the recent trend of left-leaning activists throwing milkshakes at conservative politicians, pundits and protesters.A growing viral trend in the U.S. and U.K. has seen political figures get milkshakes thrown on or at them by liberal activists who disagree with the target’s views. Brexit leader Nigel Farage was the target of a milkshaking incident in May. Antifa protesters clashed with Proud Boys in Portland, Ore. over the weekend when some of the demonstrators threw milkshakes said to be mixed with quick-drying cement, raw eggs and pepper spray...
July 2, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Protesters shut down traffic in Boston over detention centers
A lively and fast-moving stream of about 1,000 Jewish activists and others shut down traffic in the heart of the city during rush hour Tuesday evening, chanting, singing, and drumming to protest immigrant detention in the city and across the country...
June 29, 2019 | Federalism
Biden on debate moment: ‘I heard and I listened to and I respect Sen. Harris’
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday defended his civil rights record the day after California Sen. Kamala Harris assailed him over race and busing in a Democratic presidential debate."I heard and I listened to and I respect Sen. Harris," Biden said at a Rainbow PUSH Coalition event on the west side of Chicago. "But, you know, we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds in a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights."
July 2, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Federal Judge Blocks Barr’s Attempt to Deny Asylum Seekers Bail
WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Seattle on Tuesday blocked an order by Attorney General William P. Barr that would have kept thousands of migrants detained indefinitely while waiting for their asylum cases to be decided.Judge Marsha J. Pechman of United States District Court for the Western District of Washington described the order, which would have denied some migrants a bail hearing, as unconstitutional. Under a preliminary injunction, Judge Pechman said migrants must be granted a bond hearing within seven days of a request or be released if they have not received a hearing in that time...
July 2, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Federal civil jury finds two San Jose cops liable for excessive force in fatal 2016 police shooting
SAN JOSE — A federal jury has found that two San Jose police officers used excessive force when they fatally shot Anthony Nunez as he experienced a suicidal breakdown in front of his East San Jose home three years ago.The verdict announced Tuesday by a six-member jury panel also recommended a $2.6 million award to Nunez’s estate, represented by Sandy Sanchez, the aunt who raised Nunez from childhood to when he died at age 18 on July 4, 2016...
June 26, 2019 | Student Rights
Rejection of LGBTQ student group leads to a fight at “unambiguously Christian” Baylor
Gay and lesbian students were hopeful a 2015 policy change could pave their way to more rights at Baylor University, one of the country’s most prominent Baptist colleges.But four years later, LGBTQ students at the Waco school say they’re still waiting for that recognition to arrive...
June 25, 2019 | Separation of Powers
The White House Threatens to Veto an Aid Bill for Migrant Families Detained After Crossing the Border
(WASHINGTON) — The White House is threatening to veto a $4.5 billion House bill aimed at improving the treatment of migrant families detained after crossing the U.S. southern border, saying the measure would hamstring the administration’s border security efforts and raising fresh questions about the legislation’s fate...
June 22, 2019 | Property Rights
Supreme Court Overturns Precedent In Property Rights Case — A Sign Of Things To Come?
A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that property owners can go directly to federal court with claims that state and local regulations effectively deprive landowners of the use of their property.The 5-4 decision overturned decades of precedent that barred property owners from going to federal court until their claims had been denied in state court...
June 21, 2019 | Gun Rights
New York City limits on transporting guns eased in effort to get Supreme Court challenge dismissed
WASHINGTON – New York City announced Friday it has amended rules restricting where licensed guns can be taken outside the home, a move intended to prompt the Supreme Court to dismiss a challenge from gun rights groups. The change, posted on a city website without fanfare, allows gun owners to take their firearms to a home, business or shooting range outside city limits. Until now, the city had limited those with possession licenses to seven shooting ranges inside city limits...
June 26, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Australia media demand press freedom law reforms after raids
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s three largest media organizations joined forces on Wednesday to demand legal reforms that would prevent journalists from risking imprisonment for doing their jobs. The demands came after unprecedented raids against media organizations by police searching for leaked documents that some say were deeply embarrassing to the government...
June 24, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban On Trademarking ‘Immoral,’ ‘Scandalous’ Words, Symbols
In a win for advocates of free speech, the Supreme Court has struck down a ban on trademarking words and symbols that are "immoral" or "scandalous." The 6-3 decision is also a victory for those seeking trademark protection for profane and even racist brand names.The case was brought by clothing designer Erik Brunetti, who sought to trademark the phrase FUCT. The decision paves the way for him to get his brand trademarked...
June 21, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
US condemns Saudi Arabia over religious freedom abuses
(CNN) The State Department's top official for international religious freedom said Friday that Saudi Arabia continues "to be one of the worst actors in the world on religious persecution" -- a blunt assessment in light of the administration's consistent pro-Saudi policies."I think there was a lot of hope at first with the change of leadership that things would open up substantially," Ambassador at Large Sam Brownback said at the State Department's release of the 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom. "We need to see actions take place in a positive direction, but they continue to be one of the worst actors in the world on religious persecution."...
June 25, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Wayfair walkout: Employees stage protest over company selling goods to detention camps
Employees of online furniture retailer Wayfair are planning to walk out of their jobs Wednesday to protest the company’s refusal to stop selling beds and other home goods to be used in camps for detained migrants.The walkout is the latest fallout from the growing tensions at the U.S. southern border, where a large surge of immigrants from Central America seeking asylum has resulted in a crisis, with six children dying in detention since September...
June 22, 2019 | Federalism
These states are strengthening abortion laws even as others dismantle them
Washington (CNN) The red-state drive to ban or severely limit access to abortion this year has sparked the opposite reaction in Democratic-led states, where lawmakers are cementing abortion rights and making it more accessible.Driving the moves on both sides is the rightward shift of the US Supreme Court, which is fanning fears on the left that the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the US could be gutted or overturned altogether...
June 26, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
What to expect at the first Democratic presidential debate
The first Democratic presidential debate is finally here. The two-night event will take place from 9 to 11 pm Eastern on Wednesday and Thursday in Miami, and will air on NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo. We’ll also embed a live stream here once it’s available.This is the first time Democratic candidates will get to square off on the same stage. But they won’t all debate together: A different set of 10 candidates will be featured on each night...
June 21, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Judge sides with Alachua County man claiming 5th amendment in robbery case
ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB)-- An appellate judge has found in favor of Matthew Pollard, who said he should not have to give up his phone password as part of a robbery investigation. The case stems from a 2018 incident in which Pollard was accused of robbing two people who thought they were meeting him for a drug deal...
June 21, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Supreme Court Reaffirms Rule Against Racial Bias in Jury Selection
WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Friday reaffirmed its strict prohibition against racial bias in jury selection, voting to overturn a black defendant’s murder conviction in Mississippi after a white prosecutor dismissed 41 of 42 African Americans possible jurors over the course of six trials for the same crimes...
June 18, 2019 | Student Rights
Censored MAGA hat in central Pennsylvania yearbook: Freedom of speech violation?
A blurred MAGA hat in an Adams County high school yearbook has raised questions in the community about public high school students and freedom of speech. At Littlestown Senior High School, a photo published in the school's 2019 yearbook shows two boys wearing red hats during spirit week. The boys say the "Make America Great Again" slogan, popularized by President Trump, was obscured...
June 20, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Supreme Court Upholds Sex-Offender Law in Separation-of-Powers Case
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 2006 law designed to crack down on sex offenders, which allowed the U.S. attorney general to decide whether it applies retroactively.By a 5-3 vote, the court found that Congress’s delegation of the retroactivity decision didn’t violate the Constitution...
June 20, 2019 | Property Rights
Restrictions in the works for property rights, nightly rentals
Moab’s growing pains may soon be yours if you own real estate in the county.Temporary moratoria have halted new overnight lodging project applications in Moab and Grand County. With the deadline looming for the county moratorium’s expiration in August, county agencies are moving to implement sweeping changes to commercial and residential property rights...
June 15, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Trump throws support behind ‘no brainer’ measure to ban burning of American flag
President Trump threw his support behind a new effort to ban burning the American flag on Saturday, challenging a decades-old Supreme Court ruling that established flag burning was a protected form of speech.“All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag. A no brainer!” Trump tweeted Saturday morning...
June 18, 2019 | Gun Rights
Abingdon crowd rejects governor’s call for action on gun control following Virginia Beach mass shooting
ABINGDON — A roundtable in Southwest Virginia about gun policy on Tuesday started with an audience member’s recitation of the Second Amendment.From there, residents passionate about gun rights peppered Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety, with concerns about an upcoming special session in which the General Assembly will take up gun control proposals...
June 19, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
New York Times CEO Mark Thompson calls Trump’s attacks on the press ‘stupid’ and ‘dangerous’
New York Times CEO Mark Thompson on Wednesday called President Donald Trump’s attacks on journalists “hostile,” “stupid” and “dangerous.”Thompson’s comments at the CNBC Evolve forum Wednesday in New York came the day after Trump launched his 2020 reelection campaign at a raucous Orlando, Florida, rally in which he targeted the news media...
June 19, 2019 | Student Rights
GOP Sen. Josh Hawley takes aim at Big Tech’s legal protection with new bill
Sen. Josh Hawley has announced legislation that would remove tech titans’ protection from liability for third-party content on their platforms.The Missouri senator’s bill specifically targets Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act...
June 20, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Supreme Court allows religious display on state land despite challenge over church-state separation
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court got religion Thursday, ruling that a gigantic Latin cross on government land in Maryland does not have to be moved or altered in the name of church-state separation.The justices reasoned that the 40-foot cross was erected nearly a century ago as a World War I memorial, not an endorsement of Christianity. But while their verdict could extend to other existing monuments, it does not offer a blank check to new ones...
June 19, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Hundreds gather at Phoenix council meeting to protest police funding
Dozens of residents demanded the Phoenix City Council withhold police funding until action is taken against the officers involved in a viral arrest video. After hours of community comment, the council did not bow to the crowd's budget demands.Protesters packed the council chambers Wednesday afternoon on the heels of a heated "community listening session" Tuesday night...
June 18, 2019 | Federalism
Supreme Court upholds ban on uranium mining; state, county officials ecstatic, call it a ‘big win for health and safety of Virginians’
In a 6-3 vote on Monday, the Supreme Court sided with the state of Virginia and upheld a more than three decades-old ban on uranium mining.The high court also ruled a lawsuit challenging the uranium ban was dismissed properly by a lower court.Virginia has had a ban on uranium mining since the early 1980s after a massive uranium deposit was discovered on Coles Hill in Pittsylvania County...
June 19, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Joe Biden’s controversial comments about segregationists and wealthy donors, explained
At a fundraiser on Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden pulled a Joe Biden, stirring up controversy after speaking off the cuff about his fond memories of working alongside segregationist senators, and telling wealthy donors they have nothing to fear from his presidency...
June 18, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Alaska Supreme Court finds sex offender registration statute unconstitutional
The Supreme Court of Alaska ruled on Friday that Alaska’s sex offender registration statute violated the due process rights of out of state offenders by requiring them to register as sex offenders without allowing them to be heard...
June 20, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Finders keepers or thieves? Jury gets $3.5M secret gold certificate case
FREEHOLD - The verdict in a criminal case surrounding 13 rare gold certificates worth more than $3.5 million might boil down to a childhood saying: Finders keepers.Or at least that's what the defense attorneys want the jury to decide as they started deliberating Thursday the case of two men accused of stealing and selling the antique money found six years ago in an Asbury Park home...
June 11, 2019 | Student Rights
Maine Legislature passes ‘Student Loan Bill of Rights’
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- Maine lawmakers have passed a "Student Loan Bill of Rights" aiming to protect borrowers.The Senate unanimously enacted the legislation Monday. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has 10 days to act on the bill or let it go into law without her signature...
June 12, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Explainer: Can Trump use executive privilege to block congressional probes?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Like numerous U.S. presidents before him, Donald Trump has invoked the legal doctrine known as executive privilege to try to block congressional investigators from getting access to certain documents and witnesses they are seeking...
June 6, 2019 | Property Rights
Ohioans say land seizure for pipeline violates property rights
Ohio landowners say they were coerced by a federal agency to sell their property for the construction of an export pipeline. They argue this use of eminent domain, the seizure of private property for public use, violates constitutional rights...
June 10, 2019 | Gun Rights
Supreme Court refuses to consider whether Second Amendment protects gun silencers
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court refused Monday to decide if the Second Amendment protects gun silencers such as the one used in last month's Virginia Beach shooting that killed 12 people.Without comment or dissent, the justices turned away petitions from the operator of a Kansas army-surplus store and one of his customers who purchased an unregistered silencer in violation of federal law...
June 10, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Alabama Prohibits “Free Speech Zones” at Universities
Alabama's public colleges and universities will be required to adopt speech policies that allow students to freely express their thoughts throughout the campus under a new law signed by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey last week.Under the measure, universities are prohibited from establishing "free speech zones," or designated areas where students are allowed to express their opinions about controversial issues. Such demonstrations often must be approved by campus officials ahead of time...
June 10, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Bills supporting religion-based rejection turning parents away from adoption agencies
Aimee Maddonna, 34, a South Carolina mother of three, was turned away by a state-funded foster care agency because she is Catholic. Maddonna went to Miracle Hill Ministries in Greenville, the state’s largest foster care outlet, asking to volunteer in hopes of one day becoming a foster parent. But the initial screening was cut short after she was asked the name of her church...
June 13, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Dozens of officers injured during protest in Memphis after task force kills man
A driver wanted on multiple felony warrants attempted to ram law enforcement vehicles when officers with a regional U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force attempted to arrest him in Memphis' Frayser community about 7 p.m., Tennessee Bureau of Investigation public information officer Keli McAlister said. The man, who has not been publicly identified, then got out of the vehicle with a weapon, McAlister said...
June 12, 2019 | Federalism
As Other States Restrict Abortion Rights, Illinois Protects and Expands
The three different contraception methods Sharon and her boyfriend used had failed. Students with career plans, neither wanted to have a child.In 1970, abortion was illegal in Illinois. Through an underground women’s group, she learned she could go to Mexico City to end her pregnancy.“The first thing that they wanted to do is count the money,” she said. “There was nobody that asked me any questions about my medical history, nothing.”
June 13, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Who’s In and Who’s Out of the First Democratic Debates
The Democratic National Committee is set to announce the candidates who qualified for the first debates of the 2020 presidential campaign on Thursday, chopping the historically large field of 23 contenders down to the 20 available slots.A New York Times analysis of the criteria indicates that Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Mayor Wayne Messam of Miramar, Fla., did not qualify, and will be left out of the debates on June 26 and 27 in Miami...
June 10, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Justice Breyer Says It’s ‘Past Time’ To Confront Guantanamo’s ‘Difficult Questions’
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a Yemeni prisoner held without charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for more than 17 years.But Justice Stephen Breyer, in a two-page "statement" called attention to the case, declaring that it is "past time" to examine the indefinite detention of prisoners there."In my judgment," Breyer wrote, "it is past time to confront the difficult questions" left open...
June 11, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Jury can’t decide on charges against Arizona border activist
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A U.S. jury could not reach a verdict Tuesday against a border activist charged with conspiracy to transport and harbor migrants in a trial that humanitarian aid groups said would have wide implications on their work.Defense attorneys argued that Scott Daniel Warren, a 36-year-old college geography instructor, was simply being kind by providing two migrants with water, food and lodging when he was arrested in early 2018. He faced up to 20 years in prison...
June 5, 2019 | Student Rights
Civil rights groups urge consumer bureau to root out discrimination in the student-loan servicing industry
Civil rights organizations are urging the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to step up oversight of the student-loan servicing industry and root out discrimination.It has been two years since the bureau identified student-loan servicing as posing substantial risk of credit discrimination and pledged further investigation into disparate outcomes for borrowers. That level of evaluation requires records and data from servicing companies that manage student-loan payments on behalf of the federal government and private lenders...
June 4, 2019 | Separation of Powers
House Approves Immigration Bill, Despite White House Veto Threat
WASHINGTON — Democrats shunned a White House veto threat and muscled legislation through the House Tuesday that would bestow a chance for citizenship on an estimated 2 million-plus migrants, a bill that stands virtually no chance of enactment but lets them showcase their efforts on one of their highest-profile priorities...
June 5, 2019 | Property Rights
Does climate change violate children’s right to life, liberty and property? A U.S. court may decide
In a courtroom packed with environmental activists, federal judges grappled Tuesday with whether climate change violates the constitutional rights of young people who have sued the U.S. government over the use of fossil fuels. A Justice Department attorney warned three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowing the case to go to trial would be unprecedented and open the doors to more lawsuits...Read Full Article >>
June 5, 2019 | Gun Rights
Northam announces special session on gun control following Va. Beach mass shooting
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday that he’ll recall lawmakers to the state Capitol in the coming weeks to take up a package of gun-control legislation, which he said is urgently needed to prevent killings like Friday’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach...
June 5, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Watchdog Finds Global Press Freedom at Lowest Point in Decade
NEW YORK — The U.S.-based democracy watchdog Freedom House says press freedom is declining around the world, right alongside political rights and civil liberties.In its annual report released Wednesday, the nongovernmental group says global press freedom fell to its lowest point in more than a decade due to continued crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian states and unprecedented threats to journalists in traditionally free societies...
May 31, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Alabama Lawmakers Pass Free Speech Bill, Bar Campuses From Creating ‘Free Speech Zones’
Alabama legislators passed a bill that set expectations and restrictions for how college campuses handle free speech.The passing of the bill came about two months after President Donald Trump invited several students who claimed they were censored at their campuses to the White House. After hearing their stories, Trump signed an executive order requiring colleges to promote free speech or risk losing federal research funds...
June 4, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
UN to observe Day for Victims of Violence Based on Religion
The United Nations General Assembly last week adopted a resolution proclaiming Aug. 22 as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. The May 28 resolution was introduced by Jacek Czaputowicz, Poland's foreign minister...
June 4, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Protesters Hit London Streets, With a Giant Trump Balloon in Tow
LONDON — Flying the giant Trump baby balloon once again, Britons protesting President Trump’s state visit tried to bring central London to a standstill on Tuesday with demonstrations that they hoped would draw large crowds throughout the day...
June 3, 2019 | Federalism
Justices take on major states’ rights dispute
Taking on a new case that could draw it back to the very origins of the Constitution, the Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide when Congress can take away the immunity of state governments to being sued in federal courts...
June 4, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Jay Inslee Writes to Tom Perez Urging a 2020 Climate Debate
Washington Governor and 2020 presidential candidate Jay Inslee is upping the pressure on the Democratic National Committee to hold a debate exclusively devoted to climate change, with a letter to Chairman Tom Perez...
June 3, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Sens. Lee, Feinstein introduce due process guarantee act
Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) along with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Due Process Guarantee Act Monday, a bill to protect Americans from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial...
June 4, 2019 | Citizen Juries
District Attorney warns of Berks jury duty scam
The Berks County District Attorney’s Office has received several complaints of what is being identified as a “Jury Duty” Scam. According to the District Attorney's Office, victims will receive a call from unknown person/s claiming to be with the Sheriff’s Office. Victims are being told they failed to appear for Jury Duty and must now report to the courthouse...
May 28, 2019 | Student Rights
Supreme Court won’t hear case on transgender school bathroom policy
The Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to hear a case challenging a Pennsylvania school district’s bathroom policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice.The conservative Alliance Defending Freedom represented a group of students in the case, Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, alleging that the district’s policy violates student privacy. ADF has represented students and school districts in similar lawsuits across the country...
May 23, 2019 | Separation of Powers
House votes to override governor’s veto of death penalty repeal
CONCORD, N.H. —New Hampshire is one step closer to getting rid of the death penalty after the House overrode the governor's veto of a repeal bill by the narrowest possible margin.Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed the repeal bill in May after it passed the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities. The House voted to override the veto Thursday by a vote of 247-123, reaching the two-thirds majority needed by a single vote.
May 27, 2019 | Property Rights
Proposed short-term rental regulations ‘take away property rights,’ Spanish Town residents say
While residents in the Spanish Town Historic District want the city-parish to regulate the short-term rentals in their neighborhood, a proposed ordinance that surfaced recently is not what they had in mind...
May 27, 2019 | Gun Rights
Fearing Supreme Court Loss, New York Tries to Make Gun Case Vanish
WASHINGTON — A couple of weeks ago, the New York Police Department held an unusual public hearing. Its purpose was to make a Supreme Court case disappear.In January, the court agreed to hear a Second Amendment challenge to a New York City gun regulation. The city, fearing a loss that would endanger gun control laws across the nation, responded by moving to change the regulation. The idea was to make the case moot...
May 27, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
How the indictment of Julian Assange could criminalize investigative journalism
For decades, the American press has reported damning government secrets, shined a spotlight on abuse and held accountable the nation’s highest leaders. It has done these things under the protection of the First Amendment and a firm belief that Americans deserve to know the truth...
May 28, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Supreme Court limits free speech claim in arrests
Washington (CNN) The Supreme Court on Tuesday said an individual cannot make a claim that he was arrested in retaliation for exercising his free speech if police had probable cause for his arrest.The ruling is a victory for law enforcement, which argued in favor of a bright line rule that officers could follow that would also defeat possible frivolous claims from defendants objecting to their arrest...
May 28, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
China deploys Confucius in bid to boost religion controls
China has begun five-day Confucian culture immersion courses for religious leaders in the sage's hometown as part of a campaign to extend government control over faith communities through a process of sinicization...
May 21, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Across The Country, Protesters Rally To Stop States’ Abortion Bans
Abortion-rights advocates are holding rallies across the country Tuesday, protesting a wave of laws passed by states in recent weeks to severely restrict access to abortions.Organizers include the ACLU, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and NARAL Pro-Choice America. More than 400 events were planned for a national day of action outside statehouses and courts, united under the #StopTheBans moniker...
May 28, 2019 | Federalism
Kamala Harris rolls out proposal that would require states to prove abortion laws were constitutional
(CNN) Amid a national debate over abortion rights, Sen. Kamala Harris on Tuesday rolled out a new proposal aimed at stopping some state laws that restrict abortion by preventing them from going into effect in the first place...
May 21, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
A.O.C. Slams Pelosi’s Anti-Impeachment Argument as “Neglect of Due Process”
House Democrats' call to begin impeachment proceedings grew even louder Tuesday, as former White House counsel Don McGahn's refusal to testify before the House only intensified Democrats' argument that an impeachment inquiry may be the only way to break through the Trump administration's stonewalling...
May 27, 2019 | Citizen Juries
EBR jury trials set to resume after glitch raises constitutionality concerns
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Jury trials in East Baton Rouge Parish resume Tuesday, May 28, after the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended them in April of 2019.Attorneys defending accused cop-killer Grover Cannon pointed out Louisianians born after June 2, 1993 were excluded from jury selection. The 19th Judicial District Court admitted a computer glitch that has been going on since 2011 was the cause. That admission raised flags in Louisiana’s High Court...
May 11, 2019 | Student Rights
3 students sue Oley Valley, claiming their rights were violated by spring musical director
Toward the end of March, a group of Oley Valley High School drama students made their way to the former composing room floor of the Reading Eagle, performing a number from their spring musical, the Broadway hit “Newsies.”What wasn't known at the time the students sang and danced to the song “Carrying the Banner” was the drama unfolding behind the scenes between cast members and the musical's director, Stacy Lyons...
May 15, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Rep. Jerry Nadler: We’re ‘probably’ not headed for impeachment, but Trump is making it ‘increasingly difficult’ to avoid
After a quarter-century in Congress, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York stands on the brink of an outsize role in American political life.As Judiciary Committee chairman in the Democratic-controlled House, Nadler leads his party’s efforts to exercise oversight of President Donald Trump and his administration. If Democrats pursue the fourth serious presidential impeachment effort in American history, Nadler would wield the gavel when it starts...
May 8, 2019 | Property Rights
Court upholds California farmworker union’s right to enter growers’ property
A divided federal appeals court upheld California farm labor regulations Wednesday that allow union organizers to enter growers’ properties at specific times — before and after work and during the lunch hour — to talk to workers...
May 14, 2019 | Individual Liberties
San Francisco bans facial-recognition technology
SAN FRANCISCO — On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted the first ban by a major city on the use of facial-recognition technology by police and all other municipal agencies.The vote was 8-1 in favor, with two members who support the bill absent. There will be an obligatory second vote next week but it is seen as a formality...
May 15, 2019 | Gun Rights
Minnesota gun control proposals hit obstacle in conference committee
Two gun-control measures deemed a top priority by Minnesota DFL lawmakers this session were dealt an all-but-fatal blow Tuesday after they failed to advance on a party-line vote.Coming after three hours of debate, the result appeared to stymie efforts by gun-control advocates to expand criminal-background checks to private gun sales and create a “red flag” law that would allow authorities to temporarily confiscate firearms from people considered a threat to themselves or others...
May 14, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
SFPD in cross hairs of press freedom fight after raid on journalist’s home
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - A showdown over press freedom and police power is escalating in San Francisco after police raided a journalist’s home and office in trying to ferret out the identity of one of his sources.Freelance videographer Bryan Carmody obtained a police report detailing the circumstances surrounding the death of the city’s well-known public defender, Jeff Adachi, back in February. He then sold information and video of the scene to multiple news agencies including KTVU, which regularly pays freelancers a fee for information and video...
May 15, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
New Zealand’s Ardern Calls On Social Media Companies To Stem Terrorist Content
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she was one of many who saw horrifying footage of the March 15 terrorist attacks in Christchurch when the video of it started auto-playing in her social media feed. In the wake of the violence in which 51 people were killed, New Zealand immediately imposed new gun control measures and introduced legislation that would ban most semi-automatic firearms...
May 14, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
‘Save Chick-fil-A’ bill defended by Texas lawmaker: ‘This is about our freedom of religion, our freedom of worship’
Texas State Rep. Jeff Leach spoke out Tuesday on "Fox & Friends" to defend a piece of legislation that has been dubbed the "Save Chick-fil-A" bill.The bill was quietly revived in the Texas Senate Monday after being struck down in the House last week via a procedural maneuver.The controversial legislation would prevent the government from penalizing businesses for exercising their religious rights, a conversation which began after Chick-fil-A was barred from opening a location at the San Antonio Airport...
May 14, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
‘Get out of my uterus’: Rights advocates protest Alabama abortion bill as Senate passes ban
In the end, it wasn't a surprise to the dozens gathered outside of the Alabama Statehouse Tuesday night. The Alabama Senate passed a bill criminalizing abortion in nearly all cases, approving the most sweeping restrictions on the procedure in the United States and almost certainly guaranteeing a legal challenge...
May 14, 2019 | Federalism
Alabama Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Nearly All Abortions
The Alabama Senate passed a bill Tuesday evening to ban nearly all abortions. The state House had already overwhelmingly approved the legislation. It's part of a broader anti-abortion strategy to prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the right to abortion.It would be one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the United States. The bill would make it a crime for doctors to perform abortions at any stage of a pregnancy, unless a woman's life is threatened or in case of a lethal fetal anomaly...
May 15, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Nevada to host one of 12 Democratic presidential debates
Nevada will host one of a dozen sanctioned debates the Democratic National Committee is putting on during the 2020 presidential primary cycle, DNC Chair Tom Perez confirmed Tuesday.Perez, in an interview with The Nevada Independent, said that the Silver State will “absolutely” host one of the debates, though he anticipates it will be after the New Year to time it more closely with Nevada’s Feb. 22, 2020 first-in-the-West caucus. During the last presidential election cycle, Nevada hosted the first Democratic presidential debate at Wynn Las Vegas on Oct. 13, 2015...
May 14, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Harvard law professor Ronald Sullivan withdraws from Harvey Weinstein’s defense team
Harvard University law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. has withdrawn from the team of lawyers who will defend Harvey Weinstein in the former movie mogul's sexual assault trial, saying the case will conflict with his teaching responsibilities...
May 13, 2019 | Citizen Juries
California Jury Awards $2 Billion To Couple In Roundup Weed Killer Cancer Trial
A California jury has awarded a couple more than $2 billion in a verdict against Monsanto, a subsidiary of Bayer. This is the third recent court decision involving claims that the company's Roundup weed killer caused cancer.The jury in Alameda County, just east of San Francisco, ruled that the couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, Calif., contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma because of their use of the glyphosate-based herbicide. They were each awarded $1 billion in punitive damages and an additional $55 million in collective compensatory damages...
May 7, 2019 | Student Rights
Fordham hopes free-speech lawsuit will fade as last plaintiff graduates
The last of four students who sued Fordham University over the denial of a Palestinian rights club will graduate this month, but the court battle is not over.Sophomore Veer Shetty has asked to join the two-year old lawsuit, and the university is going to court on Wednesday to try to stop him.“It would be a travesty if we weren’t able to have the club on campus just because all the people suing have graduated,” Shetty said in a recent interview. “I was happy to step in.”...
May 7, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Warren: Time To Begin Impeachment Proceedings Against President Trump, “This Is Not About Politics”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took to the Senate floor Tuesday to call for impeachment proceedings now against President Trump...
May 4, 2019 | Property Rights
Property owners protest use of eminent domain for pipelines
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) -- Much to Gary Erb's chagrin, a natural gas pipeline now cuts across his 72-acre homestead in Conestoga Township, Pennsylvania.To his even greater chagrin, he remains unpaid for the 6 acres (2.4 hectares) of land that were taken from him under eminent domain to build the pipeline.With the help of a Virginia-based legal group, he is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to end what he and his lawyers say has become a common practice in the pipeline industry: taking the land first, and paying later...
May 7, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
LGBTQ book bill faces opposition from Effingham school officials, lawmakers
EFFINGHAM — Local school officials and state representatives are opposing a state bill mandating school textbooks include the sexual identity of historical figures.House Bill 246 proposes that the sexual identities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people be identified. The bill is leading the way for the 2019 Equality Illinois Legislative Agenda. It passed the House 60-42...
May 6, 2019 | Gun Rights
Cory Booker’s Gun Control Plan Calls for National Licensing Program
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey rolled out a broad plan on Monday that seeks to combat gun violence through measures including a gun licensing program and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.Aspects of Mr. Booker’s 14-part plan are among the most progressive gun-control measures suggested by a candidate seeking the Democratic nomination for president and are likely to face sharp criticism from gun-rights advocates like the National Rifle Association...
May 6, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Myanmar frees 2 imprisoned Reuters reporters
RANGON, Myanmar — Two Reuters journalists who were imprisoned for breaking Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act over reporting on security forces’ abuses of Rohingya Muslims were pardoned and released Tuesday, the prison chief and witnesses said.Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were freed after President Win Myint issued a blanket pardon for 6,520 prisoners, said Zaw Zaw, chief of Yangon’s Insein Prison...
May 8, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Florida man plans free speech fight after arrest over ‘obscene’ truck sticker
MIAMI (AP) — A Florida man who was jailed after refusing to remove what authorities called an obscene sticker from his vehicle's window said Tuesday that he is fighting the charges and will defend his constitutional right to free speech.Dillon Shane Webb, 23, was arrested Sunday and charged with misdemeanor counts of violating Florida's obscenity law and resisting an officer without violence, a Columbia County Sheriff's Office report said...
May 2, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
New Trump Rule Protects Health Care Workers Who Refuse Care For Religious Reasons
The Trump administration issued a new rule Thursday that gives health care workers leeway to refuse to provide services like abortion, sterilization or assisted suicide, if they cite a religious or conscientious objection.The rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to protect the religious rights of health care providers and religious institutions...
May 6, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Protesters march against Chicago police union following dueling demonstrations over Kim Foxx and Jussie Smollett
Dozens of protesters gathered Monday afternoon at Union Park to rebuke Chicago’s police union and call for criminal justice reform.“We are here to call out the hypocrisy of FOP and declare that they are a racist organization and they must be shut down,” said the Rev. Kwame Pitts of Augustana Lutheran Church...
May 6, 2019 | Federalism
Joe Biden: ‘Jim Crow sneaking back in’ through voting law changes
Former Vice President Joe Biden told voters in South Carolina last weekend that the Trump administration is allowing the United States to return to the days of Jim Crow, a time when it was legal to deny black Americans the right to vote because of their race. The administration does not appear to be overtly denying people of color the right to vote - it is illegal to discriminate based on race. But some recent changes in voting laws led by those in the president's party appear to be having effects that mirror that period of legalized discrimination...
May 3, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Illinois Legislators are Calling For Changes to a Law That Keeps People In Prison Without a Conviction
Illinois legislators are poised to take action against a little-known state law that allows alleged sex offenders to be imprisoned indefinitely without being convicted. Some of the inmates have been incarcerated for decades under the program...
May 7, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Jury to hear case against couple who say they’re aren’t subject to state’s laws
SUNBURY — Two “sovereign citizens” who have been sitting in the Northumberland County Prison for seven months, refusing to be fingerprinted or sign paperwork, are headed to trial.Despite their claims that they’re not subject to any laws, A jury was selected Monday for the trial that’s slated to begin Wednesday in county court...
April 24, 2019 | Student Rights
Teacher Accuses High School of Free Speech Censorship Over Article About Student in Adult Entertainment Industry
A California high school English teacher accused administrators of censoring free speech after the district required a pre-publication review of an article, which chronicled a student’s journey in the adult entertainment industry.The Lodi Unified School District’s legal responsibility to ensure the student newspaper didn't violate the education code prompted a request to see a copy of the controversial article. However, Kathi Duffel, an English teacher at Bear Creek High School in Stockton, California, and advisor for The Bruin Voice, accused the school of attempting to squelch the voice of the paper...
April 26, 2019 | Property Rights
Days ahead of next round of talks, US slams China for ‘failure’ on intellectual property reform
China continues to engage in “unfair and harmful conduct” that damages US intellectual property rights, despite some limited areas of IP protection reform, the US government announced on Thursday.The Asian country, with which the US is engaged in a months-long, multibillion-dollar trade war, will remain on Washington’s “priority watch list” for IP protection infringement, according to a report issued by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)...
April 24, 2019 | Gun Rights
Kamala Harris Proposes Executive Orders on Gun Control
Senator Kamala Harris of California, the former prosecutor who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, on Monday committed to a host of executive actions to implement gun control measures that have long failed to pass in Congress.At a town hall hosted by CNN, Ms. Harris said that, if elected, she would sign an executive order mandating background checks for customers of any firearms dealer who sells more than five guns a year. The executive actions would also include more stringent regulation of gun manufacturers that could result in revoked licenses or prosecution, as well as an attempt to close the loophole that allows some domestic abusers to purchase guns if their victim is an unwedded partner...
April 18, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
The U.S. Now Ranks As A ‘Problematic’ Place For Journalists
The United States has become a less safe place for journalists, and the threats they face are becoming the standard, according to a new report by an international press freedom organization.Reporters Sans Frontières, or Reporters Without Borders, dropped the U.S. to No. 48 out of 180 on its annual World Press Freedom Index, three notches lower than its place last year. The move downgrades the country from a "satisfactory" place to work freely to a "problematic" one for journalists...
April 24, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Fired state worker sues Kentucky governor over free speech
FRANKFORT, Ky. — An ex-state employee is suing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, claiming she was fired due to her ties to a group that supported teacher sickouts that shut down school districts to protest GOP-backed legislation.The federal suit filed Wednesday alleges Charissa “Chris” Cooke’s First Amendment rights were violated...
April 24, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Civil rights advocates drop lawsuit against Oklahoma’s ‘Muslim-free’ gun range
(RNS) — Civil rights organizations have dropped a federal lawsuit against the owners of an Oklahoma gun range after it removed a sign declaring the business a “Muslim-free establishment.”The owners of the Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range in Oktaha, Okla., removed the sign in December, nearly three years after the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma and the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Oklahoma branch filed a lawsuit alleging violation of federal public accommodations law.
April 24, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Students walked out of class to protest police brutality. Here’s what happened
A sea of demonstrators on the stairs of Wilson Library, chanting and sporting signs expressing their dissatisfaction with UNC Police is the sight that met students who walked through Polk Place Wednesday afternoon. Demonstrators gathered on the steps of Wilson at 1:30 p.m. for a demonstration against police brutality. Lindsay Ayling, a graduate student in the Department of History and an organizer of the event, explained why the protest was necessary.
April 24, 2019 | Federalism
Planned Parenthood: States should oppose Trump ‘gag rule’
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — It's time for states with leaders who support abortion rights to go on the offensive against Trump administration attempts to restrict abortion that would reduce access to health care, the president of Planned Parenthood said Tuesday."States are a critical backstop at a time when we have the Trump-Pence administration stripping away women's health and rights and when we cannot depend on the Supreme Court," said Dr. Leana Wen...
April 25, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
‘Heated’ lottery debate expected on Senate floor Thursday
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Senate is expected to debate a lottery proposal Thursday after it passed 6-5 in the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee Tuesday.Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, is the sponsor of the bill that would legalize a paper-based lottery. If the legislature approves, it would go to a statewide vote.Albritton said he knows there will be a heated debate on the floor.“I think I am optimistic, but it is certainly not in the bag,” Albritton said...
April 24, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Deputies involved in rough arrest of teen deserve due process, Broward sheriff says
TAMARAC, Fla. - Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony was visibly emotional Wednesday as he spoke in front of Tamarac city commissioners.During the commission meeting, Tony said he did not agree with the Broward State Attorney's Office dropping the charges against Delucca Rolle, 15, who is at the center of a rough arrest last week.He said his deputies still deserved their due process, whether they were right or wrong."I'm not here to speak in terms of politics. The community will get their justice deserved, and so will my deputies," Tony said...
April 25, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Jury in Armstrong trial asks judge about breaking deadlocks
HOUSTON - The jury which will decide the fate of a teen accused of killing his parents nearly three years ago seemed to be having trouble reaching a verdict when they resumed their deliberations Thursday.A.J. Armstrong, 19, is accused of killing his parents in July 2016...
April 15, 2019 | Student Rights
Parents group drops lawsuit over District 211 transgender policy
A group of parents and students Monday dropped their 2016 federal lawsuit against Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 over policies allowing a transgender student limited access to a girls locker room.The move comes just weeks after a judge dismissed portions of the suit, including counts alleging the district violated others students' rights to bodily privacy and their parents' rights to direct their education...
April 16, 2019 | Separation of Powers
House Vote on Abortion-Related Bill Could Mean Veto Showdown
RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina Republican lawmakers could soon reach their first legislative showdown with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper since his party increased House and Senate seat totals during the last elections.The House scheduled a floor vote Tuesday on a Senate measure that would direct how doctors and nurses must treat an infant born alive during an attempted abortion. Those who fail to provide the same degree of care as any other newborn could face a felony with active prison time and monetary penalties. The Senate already voted Monday for the bill...
April 12, 2019 | Property Rights
Short-term vacation rentals are all about property rights. But whose?
Jennifer Riley has lived for the past four years in a residential area a few blocks away from the water in Indian Rocks Beach in Pinellas County.For the first two years she loved living in the community – but no more.She’s been dealing with short-term renters in the neighborhood who play loud music, party deep into the wee hours of the morning, and even threaten her.“I had one guy. It was after 10 p.m. and we called the police and so he came over, and he looked at my boyfriend and he said, ‘You know what the bad thing is? I know where you live. You don’t know where I live,’” Riley recalls...
April 15, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Debate on changing Colorado’s vaccine exemption process stretches into the night
Moms and their children paced the halls of Colorado’s Capitol for hours on Monday as they waited to testify about whether the state should change the way it gives vaccine exemptions to parents who claim a personal or religious objection.House Bill 1312 would require parents to visit Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment in person the first time they request an exemption and fill out a standardized form instead of giving a written notice of exemption to a school upon registration...
April 16, 2019 | Gun Rights
Second Amendment Preservation Act Would Nullify Federal Gun Control in Missouri
A protection bill that seeks to nullify all potential federal gun control in Missouri was heard in the Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee on Thursday, April 4. SB 367, sponsored by Senator Eric Burlison (R-20), is an act that would create the "Second Amendment Preservation Act" and lists various declarations of the Missouri General Assembly regarding the United States Constitution and the scope of the federal government's authority...
April 12, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
The debate over what Julian Assange’s arrest means for freedom of the press, explained
Is the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange justice against a man who broke the law, or is it a warning shot that journalism is under threat in the United States?It’s a difficult question to answer, in part because it brings up a host of other related questions: Do you consider WikiLeaks a journalistic organization or not? Did Assange actively participate in criminal activity to obtain classified intel, as the US government alleges, or did he just disseminate information passed on to him and is therefore protected by the First Amendment? Does it matter that Assange and his organization seem to have developed at the very least an affinity to Russia? And is the single charge he faces in the United States the total of the government’s push for justice — or is it just the opening salvo in what will become a larger war to punish Assange (and anyone else who publishes classified information)?...
April 15, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Measles outbreak tests limits of religious freedom in New York City
NEW YORK — A quick fix to New York City’s measles outbreak is proving elusive, and the reasons are as much political as they are medical.A powerful voting bloc, the ultra-Orthodox community has managed to carve out what is arguably a separate system of city services with their own ambulances, school buses and police. They run their own private schools for which they receive city, state and federal funds...
April 16, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Charlotte officials release police shooting video and urge protesters to remain peaceful
Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN) Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, released video Monday showing an officer opening fire and fatally wounding an armed man after telling him repeatedly to put his gun on the ground in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant.A judge ordered police to release the video -- captured by officer Wende Kerl's bodycam on March 25 -- which prompted the mayor and police chief to say they were bracing for protests hours before the video was made public. Both appealed for calm hours before a crowd gathered for a peaceful rally and vigil in a downtown park...
April 9, 2019 | Federalism
Trump executive order will aim to prevent states from blocking pipelines, energy infrastructure
President Donald Trump will issue an executive order that aims to prevent states from blocking pipelines and other energy infrastructure by using authority granted to them under the Clean Water Act.Senior administration officials on Tuesday previewed the action and several others, which are contained in two executive orders that Trump will sign during a trip to Texas on Wednesday. They are the latest in a series of executive orders by Trump meant to roll back energy regulations and promote fossil fuel development...
April 15, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
Lawmakers debate taxing, spending in Illinois
As Illinois lawmakers prepare to vote on a constitutional amendment to change the state's flat income tax to a graduated one, debate on the topic continued Monday even with the legislature off for a two-week break.The City Club of Chicago hosted four lawmakers Monday, two Democrats and two Republicans, to make their case regarding a progressive income tax, which would have higher rates for higher earners.Peoria Republican Senator Chuck Weaver said the biggest reason Democrats want a progressive tax is to make it easier to raise taxes on a small number of high-earners...
April 15, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Michigan State apparently ignored 2018 federal court ruling on due process until student sued
Public universities under the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction have been on notice for seven months that they are required to provide an in-person hearing with cross-examination to students facing suspension or expulsion for sexual misconduct.Michigan State University is one of them. After all, the 6th Circuit decision last fall was against the University of Michigan, an hour away...
April 10, 2019 | Citizen Juries
A ‘Glitch’ Left Young People Off the Jury Rolls. Does That Violate the Constitution?
BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisianans who were summoned to decide whether Grover Cannon killed a police officer were Asian, black, Hispanic and white. They were caregivers and engineers, state workers and self-employed.But Adrienne Harreveld, a law student working for the defense team in Mr. Cannon’s death penalty trial, noticed something else: In a city with one of the South’s largest public universities, not one member of last month’s jury pool in East Baton Rouge Parish seemed all that young...
April 10, 2019 | Student Rights
Student accuses Clark University of gender discrimination in federal lawsuit after sexual exploitation investigation
A Clark University freshman who says he was falsely accused of removing a condom during sex has filed a federal lawsuit against the university, claiming he was the victim of gender-based discrimination in being found responsible for violating the school’s sexual exploitation provision.The lawsuit, filed Friday, claims such discrimination has occurred at the Worcester university before, citing a 2015 case in which another freshman accused of rape was allegedly expelled without investigation...
April 10, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Bevin draws mixed reaction to veto of pension bill
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- For the second time in months, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin intends to reconvene lawmakers for a special session to confront pension woes. The action comes after he vetoed a bill aimed at giving relief to some state-funded agencies struggling with retirement payments.Bevin said Tuesday he'll call lawmakers back in session prior to July 1.Reaction to the governor's action was mixed. The advocacy group Kentucky Government Retirees commended Bevin for nixing a bill it said exposed the Kentucky Retirement Systems to "unjustified risk."
April 8, 2019 | Property Rights
Eminent domain bills look to back landowners in rural areas
ODESSA, Texas (BIG 2 / FOX 24) - Two bills going through legislature over in Austin could change the way energy companies and land owners interact. Many people are reaping the benefits of the booming oil economy and some lawmakers want to make sure homeowners are not being stepped on. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, and Rep. DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne, filed legislation back in January to reform the current process of eminent domain...
April 9, 2019 | Individual Liberties
NYC Mandates Vaccines in Measles Outbreak, Threatening Fines
A measles outbreak in the Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has prompted New York City to declare a public health emergency, requiring residents to be vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine or face a $1,000 fine.The highly contagious and potentially deadly virus has afflicted 285 New Yorkers since October, including 246 children, almost all of them in the tightly knit Orthodox Jewish community, in one of the city’s most dense neighborhoods. Twenty-one have been hospitalized, with five requiring intensive care, said city Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot...
April 9, 2019 | Gun Rights
Pittsburgh Restricts Use Of Assault-Style Weapons, Setting Up Court Fight
Pittsburgh's mayor signed legislation Tuesday restricting the use of assault-style weapons in the city. The city council introduced a set of bills a few weeks after a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October, killing 11 members and injuring seven.But despite the mayor's signature, Pittsburgh's fight has just begun. Supporters of the legislation faced immediate resistance from gun rights advocates who say the city doesn't have the authority to issue such a ban. The National Rifle Association quickly filed a lawsuit on behalf of some Pittsburgh residents...
April 9, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Suit targets California’s ban on ‘Come on You Whites’ plate
LOS ANGELES — A soccer fan says in a lawsuit that the California Department of Motor Vehicles violated his First Amendment rights by rejecting a personalized license plate he said would celebrate his favorite team, but which the DMV determined might be deemed offensive.Jon Kotler applied for a plate that would read “COYW,” an acronym of the slogan “Come on You Whites” used by supporters of London-based Fulham Football Club, according to the federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Fulham players wear white jerseys...
April 9, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Senator on Cuomo pay raise: Bathroom break was ‘in protest’
ALBANY – A Hudson Valley state senator who skipped a vote on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pay raise now says he took a bathroom break to protest the process.For the past week, Sen. James Skoufis, D-Woodbury, Orange County, had insisted to reporters that he missed the key April 1 vote on the governor's salary because he was using the restroom.But when pressed further Monday, Skoufis changed his story: He said he was protesting the vote, which came at 2:45 a.m. and was sprung on state lawmakers with little notice...
April 4, 2019 | Federalism
Gardner, Neguse, Bennet unveil states’ rights marijuana bill for second straight year
DENVER – Colorado’s U.S. senators, Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, along with Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., on Thursday morning introduced for a second straight year the STATES Act, a states’ rights marijuana bill with bipartisan support.The bill was unveiled in a Thursday morning news conference that featured Gardner, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Rep. David Joyce, D-Ohio...
April 9, 2019 | Debates and Conversations
‘Campus Clash’ Event Sparks Political Debate, Protests at UConn
There was a clash of political opinion at the University of Connecticut Tuesday as representatives from conservative organization Turning Point USA came to speak on campus Tuesday.There was a spirited debate between students and the political speakers, as well as some fireworks in the theater and protests outside.“It definitely attracts a crowd. There are a lot of haters. But I think the best thing both sides can do is listen,” said James Petersen, a UConn freshman...
| Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Complaint: El Paso Immigration Judges Violate Due Process
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — An immigration court in El Paso, Texas, that only approves a handful of the asylum cases it considers each year routinely violates due process, attorneys contend in an administrative complaint filed Wednesday.The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association claim in their joint complaint that the court at the El Paso Service Processing Center has arbitrary and unjust rules that decrease asylum-seekers' chances of staying in the country...
April 9, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Jury recommends death penalty for Michael Bargo
A jury on Tuesday unanimously recommended Michael Shane Bargo be put to death for the murder of Seath Jackson.At 5:05 p.m., nearly five hours after they began their deliberation, the seven women and five men let bailiffs know they had reached a decision.After instructing those inside the courtroom — family members of both Bargo and Seath — to be respectful of the jury’s decision, Circuit Judge Anthony Tatti called for the jurors at 5:15 p.m. Three minutes later, the recommendation was read aloud. Bargo’s head was bowed...
March 27, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Hogan vetoes $15 minimum wage and two bills he calls ‘politically motivated’
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a $15 minimum wage Wednesday, setting up an override fight with the Democratic-controlled General Assembly over one of the top priorities of the state’s growing liberal wing.Hogan (R) also vetoed bills allowing school districts to set their own calendars and stripping power to regulate alcohol and tobacco from the state comptroller. All three bills passed by veto-proof majorities, and lawmakers could attempt to overturn the vetoes as soon as Thursday...
April 1, 2019 | Property Rights
Private property rights at center of vacation rental regulation debate
Miles Conway bought what he thought was a secluded slice of paradise on Hutchinson Island just over the Indian River County line. But the unspoiled barrier island is being ruined by a wave of unregulated vacation rental properties, he said.These unlicensed and unregulated vacation rentals are popping up on both sides of the Indian River Lagoon, he said...
March 29, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Judge Blocks California’s High-Capacity Ammunition Ban
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — High-capacity gun magazines will remain legal in California under a ruling Friday by a federal judge who cited home invasions where a woman used the extra bullets in her weapon to kill an attacker while in two other cases women without additional ammunition ran out of bullets.“Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts,” San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez wrote as he declared unconstitutional the law that would have banned possessing any magazines holding more than 10 bullets...
April 2, 2019 | Gun Rights
Pittsburgh approves gun-control bills; opponents file suit against city
Pittsburgh City Council approved three gun-control bills Tuesday in a 6-3 final vote that attracted to council chambers both family members of Tree of Life victims and gun-rights advocates who threatened prompt legal action.The bills that would ban the use of certain assault-style weapons and ammunition as well as allow courts to temporarily confiscate weapons from those who pose an “extreme risk” to themselves or others were introduced just weeks after a gunman killed 11 worshipers and wounded others at the Squirrel Hill synagogue...
April 1, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Maryland to honor Capital Gazette victims with ‘Freedom of the Press Day’
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – To honor the five victims who lost their lives at the Capital Gazette, the Maryland General Assembly is naming June 28th ‘Freedom of the Press Day’. Both sides of the legislature voted unanimously to name the day in honor of the slain journalists. The five employees were killed on June 28th when alleged gunman Jarrod Ramos entered the newsroom and opened fire. Lawmakers say the movement is critical to let people know that freedom of the press is important...
March 31, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg calls for more government regulations in op-ed
It's rare that CEOs will call for more regulations from the government instead of fewer, but Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg admitted the social media giant could use some more oversight.Zuckerberg openly lobbied for regulation in four areas in a new opinion piece for The Washington Post published Saturday...
April 1, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Civil rights experts question Supreme Court execution rulings
(RNS) — Last week, the Supreme Court ruled to block Texas’ planned execution of Patrick Murphy, a Buddhist inmate, because he was not allowed to have his Buddhist chaplain in the execution chamber.While religious freedom advocates applauded the move, some say the decision also left them perplexed. Just a month earlier, the Supreme Court allowed the execution of Muslim death row inmate Domineque Ray in a similar circumstance.The American Civil Liberties Union called the decision to halt Murphy’s execution “good news.” But it criticized the court’s earlier ruling in Ray’s case...
April 1, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
UK students on hunger strike: New resources needed to end food insecurity
Dozens of Kentucky students began occupying the university's main building late Monday in an effort to provoke action from administrators who they say have ignored growing social issues on campus.The students are members of two separate groups that have each expressed concerns about the level of assistance available for low-income and minority students.Both groups say they have met with administrators before to discuss various issues and to present recommendations. But the students say university leaders have thus far not supported their ideas.
April 1, 2019 | Federalism
House committee advances bill to let banks serve legitimate marijuana businesses
The House Financial Services Committee advanced last week legislation that allows marijuana-related businesses in states with existing regulatory structures to access the banking system. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 advanced the committee by a vote of 45 to 15. It now moves to the full House floor for further consideration. Cannabis is currently considered illegal under federal law, so banks that providing services to legitimate and licensed marijuana businesses in states where it is legal are subject to criminal prosecution...
April 2, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Lawyer: Judge’s 2nd Amendment rights violated by arrest
Syracuse, NY -- Everyone agrees that Rochester Judge Leticia Astacio went to Dick’s Sporting Goods a year ago today to buy a shotgun. After being denied, she tried at a different Dick’s.Now, Astacio -- since fired from her job -- is on trial this week for a felony gun charge, accused of illegally trying to buy a gun while on probation. She could face up to 7 years in prison if convicted by jury...
April 1, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Lawsuit claims Mercedes-Benz dealership in The Woodlands fired man over jury duty
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 19-year-old juror has filed a lawsuit against a Mercedes-Benz dealership for firing him in the midst of jury service. Zach White is a 2018 high school graduate and had been working as a valet driver at the Mercedes-Benz of The Woodlands since last fall. "I really enjoyed working there, driving a Mercedes every day, it was cool," said White. White, whose father is a local police detective, says he long had the values of public service instilled upon him. He even plans on joining the military after college. When he was called to jury duty in February, there was never much doubt he would show up...
March 26, 2019 | Student Rights
Dept. of Human Rights joins transgender student discrimination lawsuit against Anoka-Hennepin
ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Department of Human Rights and Attorney General Keith Ellison are joining a lawsuit that claims the Anoka-Hennepin Schools District discriminated against a transgender student by not allowing him to change in the locker room with his peers.The lawsuit was originally filed last month by several organizations, including the Minnesota ACLU...
March 26, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Judge to rule Tuesday in second legal challenge to GOP laws curtailing powers of Tony Evers
Days after a Dane County judge blocked enforcement of laws curtailing powers of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, another judge said he will rule Tuesday in a separate legal challenge to the Republican laws.Meanwhile, a state appeals court could rule as soon as Tuesday on a request by Republican lawmakers in the first lawsuit to put the controversial laws back in place.The recent flurry of courtroom action has consumed much of the energy in the state Capitol as state leaders await a verdict on the future of the laws. Adopted by GOP lawmakers and former Gov. Scott Walker in December, the changes included limiting the attorney general’s ability to end the state’s participation in lawsuits, targeting the governor’s power to run the state economic development agency and advance administrative rules, and limiting early voting hours...
March 25, 2019 | Property Rights
Eminent domain threatened in Santa Cruz highway widening plans
SANTA CRUZ — The City Council on Tuesday will consider taking the rare step of forcing a private River Street property owner to sell the city two properties integral to a planned highway interchange road widening project.The Santa Cruz Public Works Department is attempting to position the city to receive state funding that would add lanes at the heavily trafficked intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 9...
March 27, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Inmates deemed ‘dead’ using century-old law in Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island is one of the few places where people can still be punished with “civil death” and civil rights advocates want the century-old practice to stop.Inmates serving life in prison are deemed dead, by Rhode Island statute, with respect to property rights, the bond of matrimony and other civil rights, as if their natural death took place when they were convicted.Most civil death laws in the United States have been repealed or successfully challenged in court. Most other countries never adopted the practice.
March 26, 2019 | Gun Rights
In The Shadow Of Suicides, Senate Panel Makes Rare Move To Consider Gun Control
Days after three separate suicides in Parkland, Fla., and Newtown, Conn., left those communities reeling, the Senate did something rare for a GOP-led chamber: It held a hearing on gun control.Tuesday, in the previously scheduled hearing, the full Senate Judiciary Committee heard from experts on extreme risk protection orders, commonly referred to as red flag laws.These laws allow law enforcement, and in some states, relatives and other concerned parties, to petition judges in order to temporarily restrict access to firearms from people who may be a harm to themselves or others...
March 27, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Kim Reynolds signs bill requiring Iowa universities to respect ‘free speech’ on campus
Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday signed a bill requiring state universities and community colleges to adopt policies respecting "free speech" on campus, a controversial measure that Democrats said could allow discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community."I am proud to sign this legislation into law which protects free speech on college campuses," Reynolds said in a news release. "Our public universities and community colleges should always be places where ideas can be debated, built upon, and creative thoughts flourish without limits."...
March 27, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Nonprofit group urges North Texas school district to stop praying at meetings
A nonprofit organization is urging the Weatherford school district to stop praying at its board meetings.The Freedom From Religion Foundation said the school board opens each meeting with a prayer that usually contains specifically Christian themes, such as mentioning Jesus Christ and closing with “amen.”Weatherford ISD did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has a history of calling for schools and cities to remove Christian-based decorations and cease official prayer at their events...
March 26, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Hundreds descend on Trenton for ‘March Against Murphy’ protest
TRENTON - Hundreds of New Jersey residents came to Trenton Tuesday for the “March Against Murphy” protest against Gov. Phil Murphy.About 400 demonstrators marched from the New Jersey State House to the governor’s temporary office and then to Trenton’s World War II Memorial to express their disapproval of many of the Democratic governor’s policies. Many wore yellow construction vests as a nod to protesters in France who wore similar vets in their protests against higher fuel taxes...
March 26, 2019 | Federalism
EPA may thwart efforts by states to set stricter pesticide rules
State regulators are worried that the Environmental Protection Agency is getting ready to override them on a host of pesticide regulations by negating stricter rules intended to curb crop damage or prevent environmental hazards from pesticides.The EPA quietly announced last week that it was considering a new way to handle requests by states that want to impose stricter rules or extra training than the federal government mandates on pesticides. The EPA said it won’t make any changes this growing season and will have a public comment period before changes are made, but the agency said it was evaluating “the circumstances under which it will exercise its authority to disapprove those requests.”...
March 27, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Prosecutor: Grand jury in Russia probe ‘continuing robustly’
WASHINGTON — A grand jury that was involved in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is "continuing robustly," a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.The prosecutor, David Goodhand, made the revelation during a hearing over whether court filings in the Mueller probe should be unsealed related to an unidentified foreign corporation that had refused to turn over documents to the special counsel...
March 19, 2019 | Student Rights
Student claims civil rights violation after transgender student uses women’s locker room
A high school student in Pennsylvania has filed a complaint against her school, claiming that her civil rights were violated, and that she was subjected to sexual harassment,when a transgender student used the same locker room as her.An attorney working with the teen has already filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division, detailing the female student’s experience in a Honesdale High School locker room earlier this year...
March 21, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Judge blocks laws limiting powers of Wisconsin governor
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge on Thursday temporarily blocked Wisconsin Republicans' contentious lame-duck laws limiting the powers of new Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who immediately used his restored authority to pull the state out of a multistate challenge to the Affordable Care Act.Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess brushed aside GOP concerns that the move would leave thousands of statutes passed in so-called extraordinary sessions susceptible to challenge. Republican legislative leaders vowed to appeal...
March 19, 2019 | Property Rights
Jury awards $305K to Kokomo Glass in eminent domain dispute
A Howard County jury last week awarded a longtime local business hundreds of thousands of dollars in an eminent domain case involving the city of Kokomo and its downtown development efforts.A jury in Howard Superior Court 2 on Friday awarded $305,600 to the family that owns Kokomo Glass Shop Inc. for “the … property owner’s damages” after city officials in December 2016 initiated eminent domain to obtain property at 226 S. Main St.Court documents show the site held “storage and manufacturing for the glass company,” while its showroom and salesroom was located across the street at 226 S. Union St...
March 20, 2019 | Gun Rights
Pittsburgh’s proposed gun legislation amended by City Council, which braces for court challenges
The City Council approved changes in Pittsburgh's proposed gun ordinance Wednesday -- changes that sponsors believe will make it more likely the city can win in a court fight over the legislation.Opponents of the legislation have emphasized state lawmakers passed a law taking away the city's power to legislate control gun possession. It's position Council Members Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris hold, "No effect, no enforcement, and we have no authority. And again, against the law," Smith said to her colleagues during the council's committee session during which the amendments were made...
March 19, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Concern raised over SKorean treatment of Bloomberg reporter
SEOUL, South Korea — International journalists’ organizations are criticizing the status of press freedom in South Korea after the country’s ruling party singled out a Bloomberg reporter with South Korean nationality over what it claimed was a “borderline traitorous” article insulting President Moon Jae-in, resulting in threats to the reporter’s safety.
March 21, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Trump to Sign Executive Order Protecting Campus Free Speech
President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order Thursday afternoon that would withhold federal funding from public and private colleges and universities that do not protect free speech on campuses.As explained by a White House senior official, in order to qualify for federal research dollars, public colleges and universities would have to certify that they are complying with the First Amendment, and private colleges and universities would have to certify that they are in compliance with their own policies...
March 19, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Clergy housing allowance is constitutional, appeals court rules
(RNS) — A federal appeals court has ruled that the clergy housing allowance authorized by the Internal Revenue Service is constitutional.The Freedom From Religion Foundation argued successfully in a Wisconsin district court that the long-standing exemption for religious housing in the IRS tax code violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause. But a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court decision on Friday (March 15)...
March 21, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Students walk out to protest North Andover High School policy on sexual assault
Hundreds of students walked out of North Andover High Wednesday and are circulating a petition in protest of the school’s sexual assault policy that urges both the alleged abuser and victim to sign a contract to avoid each other in school.“I want (administrators) to realize that this is not something that should be taken lightly and there needs to be a change to these contracts that are being given out to people. They are not at all right,” said Ava Gilboard, a 17-year-old senior and one of the walkout’s organizers...
March 21, 2019 | Federalism
Mississippi Bans Abortions if Heartbeat Can Be Heard. Expect a Legal Fight.
Phil Bryant, the Republican governor of Mississippi, on Thursday signed a bill largely banning abortions once doctors can detect a trace of a fetal heartbeat with an ultrasound, a milestone that can come as early as six weeks into pregnancy.Mississippi is only the latest state to press for the strict abortion limit — the sort that has already been passed and then blocked in the courts in states including Kentucky, which approved it earlier this month, and Iowa, where a law passed last year was struck down by a state court in January...
March 19, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Federal Lawsuit Against State DOC Alleges Due Process, Civil Rights Violations in Lifetime GPS Monitoring
A Chicago law firm has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Corrections alleging civil rights violations concerning the use of GPS monitoring for sex offenders — many of whom have completed their sentences and are not on any form of probation, parole or supervised release — and seeks an injunction to stop the state’s lifetime GPS monitoring program...
March 21, 2019 | Citizen Juries
A Supreme Court case on jury bias prompts a rare question from Thomas
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court seemed deeply troubled Wednesday about the actions of a Mississippi prosecutor who has tried an African American man six times for a quadruple murder and has blocked the vast majority of black potential jurors.The hour-long argument brought a surprise: a question by Justice Clarence Thomas, and one that went in an opposite direction. He inquired about the race of jurors dismissed by defense lawyers for Curtis Flowers, drawing out the information that they were white...
March 17, 2019 | Student Rights
A Fairfax County student was accused of sexual harassment. He says the school system discriminated against him.
A Northern Virginia high school student is suing the state’s largest school system, arguing he faced discrimination after a classmate accused him of sexual harassment.The 18-year-old, identified as “John Doe” in court papers, said that Fairfax County Public Schools inadequately investigated accusations leveled against him by a female student at Robinson Secondary School. The male student, who has a 3.2 grade-point average and was on the school’s wrestling team, was transferred to an alternative school and placed on probationary status, according to the lawsuit...
March 18, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Sen. Toomey on Rejecting Trump’s Border Emergency: ‘I Support Wall Funding,’ But Not This Way
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, one of 12 Republicans to vote with Democrats against President Trump's declaration of a national emergency to secure border wall funding, explained his vote Sunday.Toomey said Trump had used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 in a way not normally seen, and that his vote was not a rebuke of the president's call for a wall and strict border security...
March 12, 2019 | Property Rights
Town of Tonawanda to seek control of Huntley plant through eminent domain
The Town of Tonawanda plans to launch a legal effort to take over the closed Huntley Generating Station from its owner. The Town Board at its March 25 meeting is planning to vote to begin eminent domain proceedings against NRG Energy, Supervisor Joseph Emminger said Monday. Huntley closed in 2016 and the property is for sale but NRG still provides untreated water to local industrial customers. Tonawanda officials want to ensure that continues. Emminger said those agreements expire this year...
March 13, 2019 | Gun Rights
What happens if Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce State Gun-Control Laws?
On March 8th, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed a bill that, effective July, closes a federal loophole exempting unlicensed vendors and gun shows from a law requiring that all licensed arms dealers conduct background checks on potential buyers.The law brings New Mexico into the ranks of 20 other states and Washington, D.C., all of which have passed similar pieces of legislation requiring expansion of criminal background checks on handgun sales in recent months. (Notably the United States House of Representatives passed a similar resolution, which now sits in the Senate.)...
March 18, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Bill Insures Freedom Of Speech On Campus
Public postsecondary institutions in Kentucky would be required to adopt freedom of speech policies for students and faculty under legislation passed by the General Assembly. The measure was sent on to the governor for his signature. Senator Will Schroder of Wilder says it provides free expression in most open areas on campus. “The Supreme Court has said that open areas to the public should be open for free speech to everyone, so students should be allowed, as long as they’re not interfering with classes or the learning environment...
March 17, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Jury to decide whether school system banned yoga for Christianity
KENNESAW, Ga. — A federal judge says a jury will decide whether a Georgia school system’s decision to halt a yoga program — and transfer the elementary school administrator who started it — was done to promote Christianity...
March 15, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Cleveland students sound off on climate change
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Northeast Ohio high school students skipped classes Friday to call attention to climate change, carrying colorful signs with big messages.“Why are we studying for a future we won’t have?”“There is no planet B.”“All I want for Christmas is my planet’s assured survival.”The students gathered in Public Square as part of Youth Climate Strike, a global movement encouraging students to blow off school for a day and protest climate change.“It’s a real thing. And it’s happening now, constantly, and it’s only getting worse every day,” said 17-year-old Noah Horn of Brecksville...
March 16, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
St. Louis NAACP Backs State Bill Providing Due Process To College Students
Gaskin was praising a bill in the Missouri State House that would provide due process protections for students accused of sexual assault, including the right to an attorney (at their expense) and the ability to cross-examine their accuser and the evidence and witnesses against them. The Associated Press reported the bill would also allow students to remove university officials overseeing procedures for a conflict of interest and keep schools from using terms like “victim” or “survivor” before any investigation has even taken place. Such words promote the presumption of guilt, supporters of the bill say....
March 15, 2019 | Citizen Juries
The five jury strikes that could decide Curtis Flowers’ fate
The fate of Curtis Flowers may well hinge on how the U.S. Supreme Court views the removal of a handful of African-Americans from jury selection at his 2010 trial.The key issue is whether the prosecutor in the case, Doug Evans, violated Flowers' rights by dismissing black jurors because of their race, which is unconstitutional...
March 12, 2019 | Student Rights
Ohio student suspended after posting Bible verses around school: ‘I wanted to spread the word of God’
A high school student in Ohio is speaking out after she was suspended for posting Bible verses in her school in response to LGBT pride flags displayed in hallways.
Gabby Helsinger, a Lebanon High School student, posted a video on Facebook Friday claiming she is being punished for “targeting” the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club.
“On Thursday when I got to school, I see that there were pride flags, posters around my school,” Gabby said in the video. “And I felt the need to write down some Bible verses so I could put them around my school. And I wrote them down and I put them around the lockers, the walls.”...
March 13, 2019 | Separation of Powers
GOP Senators Want Emergency Powers Capped to Stop President ‘Acting Like a King’
More than a dozen Republican senators introduced new legislation seeking to put a cap on presidential emergency powers, days before they were expected to vote on a measure against President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration on immigration...
March 6, 2019 | Property Rights
LA settles homeless property rights case
In a rare non-unanimous decision, the Los Angeles City Council voted 10-2 Wednesday to settle a court case with broad implications for the property rights of homeless residents.
The terms of the agreement have not been released, but by settling the lawsuit, an injunction issued in 2016 that prevents police and city workers from confiscating without notice the possessions of homeless residents in the Skid Row area will remain in place...
March 12, 2019 | Individual Liberties
N.C. is a small step closer to making you put down the phone while you drive
A state House bill to ban use of hand-held cellphones and other wireless devices has cleared the first hurdle.
House Bill 144, “Hands Free NC,” was introduced Feb. 25. Among the four primary sponsors is Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford. The legislation incorporates the prohibition on texting while driving that became law in 2009.
The bill cleared the House Transportation committee. The next of four House committee steps is Insurance, followed by Judiciary and then Rules and Operations. The bill, if signed, would go into effect Jan. 1...
March 11, 2019 | Gun Rights
Advocates for gun rights, gun control address proposed bills
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Advocates for gun rights and gun control packed a legislative hearing on several firearms bills.
The Judiciary Committee's hearing happened at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Monday morning.
The proposals discussed brought on a flood of written testimony. It is meant to toughen gun storage laws following the death of a 15-year-old boy in Guilford...
March 11, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Campus free speech bill opens debate on discrimination
DES MOINES, Iowa —
Iowa lawmakers advanced a bill Monday that some say would increase freedom of speech at the state’s colleges and universities.
The free speech on campus bill allows all student groups, regardless of their beliefs, access to all benefits and privileges made available to student organizations...
March 9, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
US hasn’t ruled out sanctions on China as it pushes ‘religious freedom agenda’ with Beijing, American envoy says
The US envoy responsible for religious freedom urged China on Friday to correct its religious policies while noting the possible sanctions available if Beijing fails to end violations of religious freedom...
March 12, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Students Stage ‘Lock-In’ At Elite Bronx High School To Protest What They Say Is A ‘Culture Of Bias’
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An elite Bronx private school was effectively shut down Tuesday by students protesting the racial climate.
They staged an overnight protest over what they call a “culture of bias,” CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported...
March 11, 2019 | Federalism
Doing away with daylight saving time: A measure moves forward
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) - - It's something legislative staffers, researchers, and legislators say citizens talk about, ask about, and complain about more than any issue. Daylight saving time. Monday, the state legislature took a step toward doing something about it.
House Joint Resolution 15 had a hearing Monday. The House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee discussed the measure and decided to pass it forward. By taking that action, lawmakers agreed Utah should endorse and support efforts in the U.S. Congress, to allow states to determine whether they choose to stay on daylight saving time or opt out...
March 11, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
House Majority Leader Garnett says red flag bill protects due process
DENVER – House Majority Leader Rep. Alec Garnett is defending the red flag bill he co-sponsored as multiple sheriffs and boards of county commissioners from Southern Colorado have come out in opposition to the legislation.
House Bill 1177 creates Extreme Risk Protection Orders which use the state court system to temporarily take away guns from someone believed to be a risk to themselves and others...
March 12, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Black woman added to jury over protests by officer’s lawyer
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A judge in the case of a white western Pennsylvania police officer accused of shooting to death a black teenager last year put a black woman on the jury Tuesday over the defense’s objections but said he will reconsider the decision...
March 5, 2019 | Student Rights
Shawnee Mission district settling ACLU lawsuit over free speech at gun protests
The Shawnee Mission school board at a special meeting Tuesday night agreed to a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union over a lawsuit alleging the district violated students’ First Amendment rights during a protest against gun violence.
The ACLU had filed the lawsuit in federal court last year alleging that the school district violated students’ freedom of speech when school officials abruptly stopped student-led rallies for April’s National Student Walkout Day...
March 5, 2019 | Separation of Powers
McConnell says Trump likely to veto to resolution to end national emergency
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that President Trump would probably to veto a joint resolution to terminate his declaration of a national emergency at the border, and he predicted a two-thirds majority of Congress was unlikely to overrule the veto. Mr. Trump wants to use the declaration to unilaterally fund border security measures, including a wall at the southern border...
March 1, 2019 | Property Rights
Western North Dakota landowners call property rights bill ‘offensive’
Western North Dakota landowners lined up Friday to testify against an energy bill they called an “offensive” taking of private property rights, while supporters said there’s a misunderstanding of the bill’s intention.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 2344 say it seeks to clarify issues related to pore space, or the cavity or void in an underground formation...
March 5, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Arizona Legislature Mulls Bills To Weaken Vaccination Requirements
The measles outbreak in Washington state and elsewhere is prompting some states to look at tightening vaccine requirements for schoolchildren. But not in Arizona. Lawmakers there have been considering bills to make it easier for parents to get exemptions for their kids from the usual childhood vaccinations.
Supporters of the controversial bills being considered in the Arizona Capitol say they are not "anti-vaccine."...
March 5, 2019 | Gun Rights
Even stricter gun control could be coming to New York
NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York gun owners could soon be required to lock up their guns whenever someone younger than 16 is home.
A bill passed the New York legislature on March 4th. It makes it a misdemeanor to not put your firearms in a gun safe or put a physical lock on it...
March 5, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Trump vows executive order to protect campus free speech, but critics, including U. of C. president, call it a dangerous move
President Donald Trump’s proposed executive order to protect free speech on college campuses follows a growing chorus of complaints from conservatives that the nation’s universities are attempting to silence their voices when they’re heckled, disinvited or their presence on campus is otherwise discouraged.
Critics — including University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, a frequent champion of free speech — counter that it would give federal officials dangerous authority to interfere in campus speech issues...
March 4, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Portland bans discrimination against atheists, other nonbelievers
(RNS) — Nonbelievers in Portland, Ore., are feeling affirmed this week after the city council amended the city’s Civil Rights code to extend protection from discrimination to atheists, agnostics and other people who claim no religion.
“What it is is validating because my city thinks I am of the same value as any other individual, and it isn’t OK for somebody to discriminate against me or anybody like me,” said Cheryl Kolbe, president of the Portland-area chapter of the Freedom of Religion Foundation...
March 5, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Students at Vols basketball game protest Tennessee’s blackface response
Protesting the University of Tennessee’s handling of a blackface controversy, 40 to 50 students dressed in black occupied seats behind UT’s goal Tuesday night at the men’s game against Mississippi State.
At the start of the game, they remained seated during the national anthem as other students, clad in orange and white, stood. Sitting or kneeling during the anthem has become a standard method of protesting racial injustice since 2016, following the example of football player Colin Kaepernick...
March 5, 2019 | Federalism
Illinois, 20 Other States To Sue Over Trump’s New Restrictions On Family Planning Clinics And Abortions
CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — Illinois and 20 other states are filing lawsuits seeking to block the Trump administration’s new rule to make it more difficult for women to get abortions...
March 1, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Judge says ex-AG Horne denied due process in campaign violations case
PHOENIX — A federal judge has agreed to allow former Attorney General Tom Horne to pursue his claim that Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk violated his due process rights.
In a new order, Judge Steven Logan acknowledged that Polk, in her role of prosecutor, had absolute immunity from being sued...
March 5, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Judge rejects Chelsea Manning’s effort to avoid testifying before grand jury investigating WikiLeaks founder
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning appeared in Alexandria federal court Tuesday to unsuccessfully fight a subpoena requiring her to testify in front of a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Outside the courthouse after an hour-long closed hearing, Manning said her motion to quash the subpoena was denied but her team believes they "still have grounds to litigate." She would not go into detail because Judge Claude Hilton also blocked her bid to unseal the proceedings. But she said she was "probably going to be" at the courthouse multiple times in coming days...
February 26, 2019 | Student Rights
Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of trans student in Blue Springs bathroom case
A transgender student who was denied access to the boys bathroom and locker room by the Blue Springs school district has the right to sue for sex discrimination, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
In a 5-2 decision, the court overturned a Jackson County court’s dismissal of the student’s lawsuit against the district, ruling in favor of the student, identified in court records as R.M.A...
February 27, 2019 | Separation of Powers
President Trump threatens to veto gun bills pushed by Democrats
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump is threatening to veto two Democratic bills expanding federal background checks on gun purchases, saying they do not sufficiently protect gun owners' Second Amendment rights.
The House is expected to vote this week on separate bills requiring background checks for all sales and transfers of firearms and extending the background-check review from three to 10 days...
February 20, 2019 | Property Rights
U.S. Supreme Court: Range Rover seizure violated protections against excessive fines
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled police in Indiana acted improperly when they seized a $42,000 Range Rover from a man who sold a small amount of heroin — a decision that threatens some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in property seizures annually by police across the country...
February 26, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Tennessee lawmakers propose raising age for tobacco purchases, Van Huss calls it ‘government intrusion’
Lawmakers in Tennessee are considering whether to follow their neighbor’s example after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill last week to raise the age for tobacco purchases to 21. Senate Bill 1200 and House Bill 1454, recently proposed by Sen. Shane Reeves and Rep. Bob Ramsey, aim to prohibit the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes to those under 21. The legislation has drawn the support of the American Cancer Society, whose members described the legislation as “potentially lifesaving public health measures.”...
February 26, 2019 | Gun Rights
Tensions high as Minnesota lawmakers prepare to debate gun control bills at the Capitol
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers are set to consider two gun control proposals Wednesday, Feb. 27, amid an atmosphere that grew increasingly tense in the days before the hearing.
The bills would stoke strong feelings at any time. But moves by gun control supporters and opponents in the leadup to the hearing kindled further frustration among both groups...
February 22, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
An Arizona officer threatened to arrest a 12-year-old journalist. She wasn’t backing down.
When a small-town Arizona officer stopped a 12-year-old reporter who was chasing down a story tip on Monday, he probably had no idea what he was getting himself into...
February 26, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Kinzinger’s office says border remarks are freedom of speech
MADISON, Wis. — A spokeswoman for Congressman Adam Kinzinger says he shouldn’t face discipline for criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ decision to withdraw troops from the U.S. southern border. Kinzinger, R-Channahon, is a pilot and holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Wisconsin Air National Guard. He ripped Evers Monday on Twitter and on Fox News for ordering Wisconsin troops to pull out of Arizona...
February 25, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Cross Clash Could Change Rules For Separation Of Church And State
A giant concrete cross standing in the middle of a busy median strip is the latest symbol of a constitutional fight that has raged for decades. It's a fight over the concept of the separation of church and state and what the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote into the First Amendment a ban on government "establishment" of religion...
February 27, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Protesters who participated in the Border Patrol Museum protest explain why they did it
EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) —
Some of the protesters who defaced the photos of fallen Border Patrol agents tell KFOX14 they have no regrets.
The protest happened Feb.16 at the National Border Patrol Museum on Transmountain...
February 26, 2019 | Federalism
Democrats introduce Voting Rights Advancement Act
WASHINGTON D.C. (WIAT) -- Democrats plan to introduce a bill Tuesday to reinstate federal oversight of voting laws in states with a history of racial discrimination.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court said federal oversight of state elections used an outdated formula to unfairly singled out a group of mostly southern states. It is reported that the Democrats say they have come up with a modern formula to identify states that are guilty of more recent discrimination...
February 24, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Missouri Lawmakers to University: Provide Due Process in Sexual Assault Cases
State lawmakers in Missouri are threatening to withhold funding from the embattled University of Missouri if it fails to provide adequate due process to students accused of sexual assault...
February 25, 2019 | Citizen Juries
El Chapo Trial: Did the Jury Engage in Misconduct?
In a typical case, after a defendant’s conviction, the criminal process slows down as both sides prepare for sentencing or the defense prepares an appeal. But the prosecution of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug capo known as El Chapo, has never been a typical case...
February 19, 2019 | Student Rights
Civil rights complaint being filed for 11-year-old Lakeland student arrested after confrontation for not standing for Pledge of Allegiance
Ford’s comments stem from the arrest and suspension of the sixth-grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy on Feb. 4 after the student refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and was then asked to stand up by a substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez.
“I asked the student to stand up for the pledge and he answered that he won’t because the flag of this country was racist,” Alvarez wrote in a statement to police. “He then started to explain why the National Anthem was offensive to black people.”...
February 18, 2019 | Separation of Powers
White House indicates Trump to veto disapproval of emergency
President Donald Trump is prepared to issue the first veto of his term if Congress votes to disapprove his declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border, a top White House adviser said on Sunday.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” that “the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration.” Asked if that meant Trump was ready to veto a resolution of disapproval, Miller added, “He’s going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed.”...
February 18, 2019 | Property Rights
Property rights, hunting addressed in ND legislature
BISMARCK, N.D. - It's been a long tug of war between hunter and landowner. Lawmakers are putting together a bill they believe will benefit both.
Senate bill 2315 has the hunter needing to ask permission to hunt posted land, but this time law makers are implementing technology to do the job. Land ownership will be coded green (available for hunting), yellow (you must get permission), or red (no hunting allowed)...
February 19, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Defenders of raw milk focusing on liberty more than health in Tennessee
A narrative is rapidly emerging in Tennessee against Dr. Richard Briggs bill to close the cow-share loophole that makes raw milk sales legal that otherwise would be illegal. The Tennessee Senate Commerce and Labor Committee has yet to schedule a hearing on the Briggs bill, but what lawmakers are hearing is that Senate Bill (SB) 15 pits community health against civil liberties.
Briggs, is a Republican, a cardiac surgeon and a retired U.S. Army Colonel. He represents Knoxville in the Tennessee Senate, told Ohio television station WTOL Channel 11 that the controversy his bill has caused is like “kicking a hornet’s nest.” Raw milk dairy farmers are fighting for their loophole, saying civil liberties are at stake for both producers and consumers of raw milk. They are calling opposition to the Briggs bill “a liberty issue.”...
February 18, 2019 | Gun Rights
Gun rights constitutional amendment moving again in Iowa
DES MOINES — Take two on the Second Amendment had its day Monday in the Iowa Senate.
Senate Republicans advanced a proposal to amend the Iowa Constitution to specify Iowans’ right to own a gun and add heightened legal protection to that right...
February 19, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Justice Clarence Thomas criticizes landmark Supreme Court press freedom ruling
WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas criticized a landmark press freedom case on Tuesday, calling for a new look at the rule that public figures cannot successfully sue for libel unless they can demonstrate that a statement was made with actual malice.
The court ruled in the 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan that a public figure must prove a defamatory statement was made "with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not." The case was brought by a county official in Alabama who claimed he was defamed by an advertisement in the paper criticizing police response to the civil rights movement...
February 18, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Free speech policy stirs controversy at University of Michigan
University of Michigan student Sydney Whack remembers the frustration she and other African-American students felt a year ago when the name tag outside the dorm room of one of her friends was vandalized with the N-word.
At the time, UM officials said the resident adviser handled the incident properly in West Quad by reporting it to university housing and diversity staff. In addition, community meetings were held with residents...
February 18, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Controversial ‘religious freedom’ bill gets another look at Iowa Capitol
Republican lawmakers have reintroduced a bill at the Iowa Capitol that they say will protect religious rights but that critics warn could allow businesses in the state to refuse services to someone based on religious beliefs.
Senate lawmakers scheduled a preliminary vote Tuesday on the so-called "religious freedom" bill. A similar measure failed to garner enough support last session...
February 18, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Protests slam Trump’s declaration as states ready lawsuit
NEW YORK (AP) — Protesters around the U.S. spent Presidents Day rallying against President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration as at least a dozen states planned a lawsuit to block Trump’s latest ploy to fund his long-promised border wall.
“Trump is the national emergency!” chanted a group of hundreds lined up Monday at the White House fence while Trump was out of town in Florida. Some held up large letters spelling out “stop power grab.” In downtown Fort Worth, Texas, a small group carried signs with messages including “no wall! #FakeTrumpEmergency.”...
February 19, 2019 | Federalism
Virginia Wants To Ban Uranium Mining. The Supreme Court Will Decide If It Can.
The Supreme Court will decide in 2019 whether a Virginia law that bans uranium mining is preempted by the Atomic Energy Act, the federal law governing the processing and enrichment of nuclear material.
The case, Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren, will require the court to interpret laws governing nuclear fuel production. But its most significant, long-term impact might be the glimpse it provides into the court’s view of the proper balance between federal regulatory power and the rights of states in setting their own policies...
February 18, 2019 | Citizen Juries
When Does Kicking Black People Off Juries Cross a Constitutional Line?
WASHINGTON — Doug Evans, a white state prosecutor in Mississippi, has worked hard to keep black people off the juries that have heard his case against Curtis Flowers, who has been tried six times — yes, six times — for the 1996 murders of four people inside a furniture store in Winona, Miss...
February 13, 2019 | Student Rights
Christian student challenged a school history lesson on Islam and lost in court
As a high school junior, Caleigh Wood refused to complete a history lesson on “The Muslim World” that she said forced her to embrace Islam in conflict with her Christian faith — and the Constitution.
A federal appeals court this week disagreed, saying school officials in Southern Maryland had not violated Wood’s First Amendment rights because the curriculum did not endorse a particular religion “and did not compel Wood to profess any belief.”...
February 13, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Congress poised to put Trump in veto bind
President Trump has not issued a veto since taking office more than two years ago, but that may soon change.
The House will move a step closer to a major confrontation with Trump by voting as soon as Wednesday on a resolution that would cut off U.S. military support to the Saudi-led coalition in neighboring Yemen...
February 13, 2019 | Property Rights
Police can’t seize property until conviction under bill passed by Senate
LANSING — Police and prosecutors would be prohibited from seizing cash and property from people accused of a crime until they are convicted on the charges under a bill passed in the state Senate on Wednesday.
The bill — SB 2 — is a retread from the last legislative session when then-state Rep. Peter Lucido's similar bill passed the House but never got a vote in the Senate...
February 12, 2019 |
Drunk driving checkpoints test personal liberties
North Dakota is known for many things, but two of its defining characteristics might be its long, open highways and its citizens’ purported propensity for drinking. With this in mind, the Legislature is once again re-evaluating how it contends with drunk driving...
February 13, 2019 | Gun Rights
In Washington State, Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce New Gun-Control Law
More than a dozen county sheriffs in Washington state are refusing to enforce a sweeping gun-control measure that passed with the support of 59% of the state’s voters in November.
The new law raises the age for buying semiautomatic rifles to 21 from 18, stiffens background checks for purchases of semiautomatic rifles, and imposes new criminal penalties for the unsafe storage of firearms...
February 13, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Press freedom “fragile” in Europe, says new report
Press freedom in Europe is “more fragile now” than at any time since the end of the Cold War, with journalists in Europe facing increased hostility and violence, according to a new report published on Wednesday...
February 12, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Organization names KU as one of the worst universities for free speech, cites removal of flag art, social media policy
The removal of an art installation featuring a modified American flag has made the University of Kansas one of the worst colleges or universities in the country for protecting the freedom of speech, according to a national advocacy organization.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, also known as FIRE, on Tuesday put KU on its list of 10 institutions of higher learning that it says are the worst at protecting rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment...
February 9, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Alabama executes Muslim death row inmate who sought imam
A Muslim inmate in Alabama was put to death Thursday night after the Supreme Court denied his request for an imam to be present.
Dominique Ray, 42, was executed by lethal injection Thursday and pronounced dead at 10:12 p.m., The Associated Press reported...
February 13, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
‘Ralph Must Resign’ protest set to take place at governor’s mansion
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The momentum to force Governor Ralph Northam to resign continues to grow - with a planned protest outside of his mansion Wednesday.
It’s being called the ‘Ralph Must Resign Rally.’ Several groups are coming together to demand greater accountability following the governor’s blackface scandal...
February 11, 2019 | Federalism
Report: States passed more pro-LGBT laws in 2018 than anti-LGBT laws
Feb. 11 (UPI) -- More state bills supporting LGBT rights were passed last year compared to bills aiming to oppress them, a new study has revealed.
Last year, 21 of 210 proposed bills in favor of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were passed while only two of 110 proposed anti-LGBT bills were enacted, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation said in its annual State Equality Index...
February 12, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Red Flag Laws Seek To Balance Gun Safety With Due Process
When an attempt to carry out a gun removal in Maryland's Anne Arundel County left a man dead last November, opponents of the state's red flag law were incensed.
"Whatever you may think of red flag laws, they should not be death sentences. And they were in the case of Gary Willis," said Mark Pennak, an attorney and president of the gun rights organization Maryland Shall Issue...
February 12, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Notorious drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman convicted
Mexico's most notorious drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was convicted Tuesday of running an industrial-scale smuggling operation after a three-month trial packed with Hollywood-style tales of grisly killings, political payoffs, cocaine hidden in jalapeno cans, jewel-encrusted guns and a naked escape with his mistress through a tunnel...
February 8, 2019 | Separation of Powers
House would uphold Trump veto on border wall emergency: GOP leader
If President Trump were to declare a border emergency and use the Pentagon to build his border wall, Congress wouldn’t be able to muster the votes to block him, the top House Republican said Friday.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s comments could stiffen spines at the White House, where Mr. Trump is pondering whether to use emergency powers to construct more border fencing, if he doesn’t win funding from Congress...
February 7, 2019 | Student Rights
Conservative students say universities are ‘stifling’ free speech on Iowa campuses
One day after a federal court ruled in favor of a Christian group that argued it was discriminated against by the University of Iowa, conservative students visited the Capitol to advocate for a bill seeking to promote free speech on campus.
"I believe personally that some of the violations of our free speech have affected the conservative groups on campus more than other groups and I would like to remedy that," said Trevor Kems, a sophomore at Iowa State University studying computer engineering who spoke Thursday in favor of the bill...
February 8, 2019 | Gun Rights
Americans support gun control but doubt lawmakers will act: Reuters/Ipsos poll
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Most Americans want tougher gun laws but have little confidence their lawmakers will take action, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday ahead of the one-year anniversary of the country’s deadliest high school shooting...
February 7, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
CNN’s Jim Acosta Visits UVA to Discuss Freedom of the Press and Politics
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The future of politics and the press was under examination at the University of Virginia Thursday evening.
CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, whose confrontations with President Trump have gone viral and led him to be temporarily banned from the White House, spoke with community members about the state of the press during the current administration...
February 6, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
New York fast-food workers’ payroll law survives free speech challenge
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a restaurant industry lawsuit challenging a New York City law requiring fast-food employers to send money that workers want deducted from their paychecks to nonprofits, including groups they might oppose...
February 8, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Judge sides with Christian group in religious freedom case
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge says the University of Iowa was wrong to strip a Christian student group of its registered status after the organization barred a gay student from a leadership position...
February 8, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Trump rally: Groups to protest Monday in El Paso, GoFundMe set up for ‘Baby Trump’ balloon
A number of protests are anticipated for Monday in response to President Donald Trump's planned rally at the El Paso County Coliseum.
Trump is expected to make a campaign stop in El Paso at 7 p.m. Monday at the El Paso County Coliseum. Earlier this week, Trump said El Paso used to be "one of our nation's most dangerous cities" that saw its crime rates decline after the construction of a border fence. Local, state and federal data show that this is not the case...
February 7, 2019 | Federalism
New Mexico abortion bill called ‘most extreme in the nation’
Following the New York abortion law celebrated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Vermont is pushing a "right to abortion" bill that goes even further. But opponents of a new abortion bill in New Mexico say a proposal in that state would be the "most extreme bill in the nation" due to its far-reaching changes.
Advocates of the abortion bill that decriminalizes abortion in the state say it is needed in case Roe v. Wade is overturned, but pro-life supporters say it allows abortion-on-demand for any reason, taking away parental notification for minors and conscience protections from the state law...
February 6, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
DNC chairman: Fairfax accuser deserves ‘due process’
The woman who has accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault deserves “due process,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Wednesday.
Fairfax has denied that the sexual encounter from 2004 was nonconsensual, as the woman has claimed. Evidence that might corroborate either party's version of events has yet to emerge...
February 6, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Here’s why it’s taking so long for El Chapo’s jury to reach a verdict
BROOKLYN, New York — Jurors in the trial of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán sat through nearly three months of damning testimony and heard just 30 minutes from the only witness called by the defense. But as of Wednesday, after a day and a half of deliberations, they still haven’t made up their minds about whether he ought to be convicted or acquitted...
February 4, 2019 | Student Rights
New University policy requires disclosure of felony charges and convictions within a week for all faculty and staff
The University of Michigan implemented a new policy Monday requiring members of the community to disclose all charges and convictions of felonies within a week of the charge or conviction. The policy applies to all faculty and staff, including student employees, volunteers and visiting scholars...
February 5, 2019 | Separation of Powers
New lawsuit from unions contends GOP lame-duck laws violate Constitution’s separation of powers
A group of unions on Monday filed a fourth legal challenge to controversial laws passed by Republican leaders just before Gov. Tony Evers took office — this one contending they violate the state constitution’s separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches...
February 5, 2019 | Property Rights
Mississippi won’t reinstate law allowing no-judge seizures
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers have rejected plans to allow police to resume seizing cash, guns and vehicles without going before a judge, agreeing with civil liberties advocates that the practice was unjust.
House Judiciary A Committee Chairman Mark Baker said his committee won't consider House Bill 1104 , which would have reinstated a previous law. That means it dies at a Tuesday deadline for legislation to advance out of committee. The Brandon Republican, who's running for attorney general, said House leaders decided not to move forward with the proposal...
February 5, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Marijuana legalization showdown in N.H. State House Tuesday
Supporters of marijuana legalization are expected to pour into the State House Tuesday afternoon, as a bill by Rep. Renny Cushing gets its first public hearing.
Members of the public will have a chance to weigh in on the legislation, House Bill 481, at 1 p.m. in Representatives Hall. New Hampshire is surrounded by states that have legalized cannabis; Cushing’s bill would do the same and apply a tax and regulation scheme on legal sales...
February 4, 2019 | Gun Rights
California lawmakers make renewed push for gun control under Gavin Newsom
SACRAMENTO — California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but even as they passed measures in the aftermath of mass shootings, legislators occasionally found themselves frustrated by former Gov. Jerry Brown and his veto pen...
February 3, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Washington Post airs Super Bowl ad honoring journalists, press freedom
The Washington Post on Sunday aired its first Super Bowl advertisement, a one-minute long compilation of historic images and clips meant to signify the role of journalists.
The ad, which was narrated by actor Tom Hanks, aired during the fourth quarter of the contest between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams...
February 5, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
CA Appeals Court Rules Soda Health Warning Label Violates Free Speech
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Jan. 31 to block San Francisco's Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Warning Ordinance, requiring health warnings on advertisements for soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. The American Beverage Association and other retail groups had sued to block the ordinance...
February 5, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Religious Freedom Group Asks Trump Not to Withdraw From Syria, Warns Turkey’s Entry Will Lead to Genocide
An international coalition of groups supporting religious freedom made a statement pleading with the Trump administration to prevent Turkey from entering the northeast region of Syria...
February 3, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Hundreds come out in support and protest of drag queen story time in Lansdale
Waiting patiently on the blue-carpeted floor, dozens of eyes stared up at the tall woman seated in front of them.
With her long eyelashes, lips painted a deep shade of blue and bigger-than-life wig of purple hair, Miss Annie had the full attention of her young audience. She brought with her a book to read and a message about acceptance and diversity...
February 4, 2019 | Federalism
Arizona tribes could offer sports betting at your local bar under bill in Legislature
Arizona gamblers could place sports bets on machines at their local bar and at tribal casinos under a bill proposed by Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City.
Borrelli's bill is one of several around the country being pushed in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that opened the door to state-regulated sports betting...
February 4, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
ABA urges high court to reject rigid bail systems
The American Bar Association has weighed in on a growing national debate over whether an inflexible system that sets fixed amounts for bail and probation is constitutional...
February 5, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Fate of Mexican drug lord El Chapo now rests with US jury
NEW YORK (AP) — After nearly three months of testimony about a vast drug-smuggling conspiracy steeped in violence, a jury began deliberations Monday at the U.S. trial of the infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman...
January 29, 2019 | Property Rights
Michigan Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Property Tax Case
The Michigan Supreme Court agreed to hear a case later this year over government officials having confiscated a man’s property for $8.41 in unpaid interest on taxes and kept the $24,500 it fetched at auction.
Uri Rafaeli failed to pay the interest owed on property taxes for a rental property several years ago. Oakland County, Michigan eventually foreclosed on his property for the $8.41 plus $277 in additional interest and fees. The county sold his property at an auction in 2014 for $24,500 and kept the whole amount...
January 29, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
‘Bullying journalists is not Presidential’: Fox News anchor berates Trump for tweets
WASHINGTON – After President Donald Trump leveled a rare Twitter attack against Fox News – a network he normally praises for its favorable coverage of him – one of the conservative channel's anchors lambasted the president for "bullying journalists."...
January 25, 2019 | Separation of Powers
51 Dems ask House defense panel head to block Trump from using military funds for border wall
More than 50 House Democrats want to prevent President Trump from using future military funds to build his proposed border wall, even as the president has backed off from declaring a national emergency in order to do so.
In a letter led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and sent Friday, 51 lawmakers ask House Armed Service Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), to use the upcoming fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent the U.S. military “from becoming a pawn in Trump’s immoral, wasteful, and potentially illegal border ‘wall.’ ”...
January 18, 2019 | Property Rights
Wyoming Introduces Bill Offering Cryptocurrencies Legal Clarity To Attract Blockchain Business
In a significant move for the advancement and legitimization of cryptocurrencies and blockchain businesses in the United States, Wyoming has introduced a bill that aims to clarify the legal position of digital assets, as well as offer digital asset custody through banks rather than financial institutions.
The Bill offers three classifications of digital assets; digital securities, digital assets, and most importantly, virtual currencies which give cryptocurrencies the same treatment as money within the state...
January 25, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Virginia bills would raise tobacco sales age to 21
Bipartisan bills in the Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia Senate seek to raise the age for purchasing tobacco and other nicotine products from 18 to 21 – similar to the state's liquor laws.
The bills also add “nicotine vapor products and alternative nicotine products” in the list of those that are permissible to sell in vending machines. All other aspects of the bill, including penalties for sales under the permissible age, will remain the same...
January 27, 2019 | Gun Rights
NYS set to ban teachers from carrying guns in school under sweeping gun control measures
ALBANY — New York would ban teachers from carrying guns in school under a broad gun control package set to pass the Legislature on Tuesday. Following the 2018 Parkland, Fla. school shooting, President Trump and the NRA called for teachers and school staff to be armed...
January 28, 2019 | Student Rights
A High School Allegedly Banned Students From Covering A Classmate’s Arrest
At the beginning of the school year, one of Kyra Howard's high school classmates abruptly stopped showing up for classes.
Nobody at Plainfield High School in Indiana knew what had happened to the student, Levi Stewart, and school administrators weren’t talking. Some kids guessed he’d been suspended. Among a suburban high school of 1,600 students, his absence was noticed because he was active on campus and a drum major in the state champion school marching band. "He was a prominent kid around school," said Howard, who as a student journalist may have been more curious than others...
January 28, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Government allows S.C. foster care group to keep Protestants-only policy
(RNS) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued an exemption that allows all foster care agencies in South Carolina to disregard an Obama-era regulation barring religious discrimination in federally funded foster care programs.
The exemption will allow Miracle Hill Ministries, a Greenville-based Christian ministry, to continue to accept only Protestant, churchgoing parents to its federally funded foster care program, which recruits, supports and helps train parents to be licensed by the state to foster children...
January 25, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Ricky Gervais says freedom of speech is getting lost, slams political correctness on Twitter
Comedian Ricky Gervais blasted political correctness and chastised his critics for painting him with a broad brush for advocating for what he calls "freedom of speech."
The 57-year-old creator of the U.K. version of “The Office” took to Twitter Wednesday to sound off on some left-leaning people who were quick to denounce him after controversial comments he made in the past...
January 27, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
9 arrested for ‘die-in’ protest at Rockefeller Center ice skating rink in New York City
Nine climate change activists were arrested while staging a protest at the nation's most famous ice skating rink on Saturday.
The activists, who laid down in the middle of the ice rink at Rockefeller Center around 2:45 p.m., were part of a group called the Extinction Rebellion. The protesters formed an hourglass logo with a circle around it -- the group's logo...
January 23, 2019 | Federalism
Under Trump, states step up effort to restrict abortion access
Louisville, Kentucky - Outside Kentucky's last abortion clinic, anti-abortion rights protesters gather each day to face off against orange-vested volunteers who escort women inside for a procedure that state politicians have increasingly sought to restrict in recent years...
January 25, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Iowa Supreme Court says Cedar Rapids traffic camera do not violate due process
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Speed and traffic cameras in Cedar Rapids do not violate a constitutional right to due process, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
The high court upheld lower court rulings dismissing a class action lawsuit against the City of Cedar Rapids Speed Cameras. A group of drivers filed that lawsuit in 2018 claiming the cameras violate equal protection, due process and other clauses of the Iowa Constitution...
January 28, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Campbell County school shooter Kenneth Bartley doesn’t want hometown jury in latest trial
Kenneth Bartley is a household name in Campbell County — for all the wrong reasons, his attorney says.
At the age of 14, he fatally shot an assistant principal and wounded two other Campbell County Comprehensive High School administrators. That was 2005 and just the beginning of headlines for Bartley.
January 22, 2019 | Student Rights
Lawsuits: Michigan State is biased against males in sex assault cases
More than three years of missteps in handling sexual assault cases has made Michigan State University swing the pendulum from not believing victims to now discriminating against male students, three lawsuits allege...
January 18, 2019 | Separation of Powers
Trump vows to veto bills expanding abortion rights in video address to March for Life
President Trump vowed in a video message to the March for Life on Friday to veto any legislation that “weakens the protection of human life.”
“If they send any legislation to my desk that weakens the protection of human life, I will issue a veto and we have the support to uphold those vetoes,” Trump said in the message displayed to a crowd gathered for the annual anti-abortion march in Washington...
January 20, 2019 | Property Rights
They were acquitted of drug trafficking, but Uncle Sam wants to keep their property anyway
Jerry Shults and his daughter, Amy Herrig, were recently acquitted of drug trafficking charges, but the government is not done with them yet: It wants to take much of their money and property using controversial federal forfeiture laws...
January 22, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Florida bill would ban abortions if fetal heartbeat detected
A bill filed by a Florida state lawmaker aiming to ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected has led to public outcry from some progressive groups, with one advocate stating it's "among the most extreme" ever filed in the country.
House Bill 235, filed by Republican Florida state Rep. Mike Hill, would make it illegal for women to get an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected...
January 21, 2019 | Gun Rights
Washington state legislature considers 4 new gun control bills
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The group behind statewide gun control measures like I-1639 is back with what it’s calling its most robust legislative agenda to date.
The Senate Law and Justice Committee heard dozens of arguments for and against four gun control bills presented to them Monday. The Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility is behind the measures.
January 21, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Federal Judge Recognizes Free Speech for Cannabis Producer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Jan. 21, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the first time in history, a Federal Court order has recognized the First Amendment protections guaranteed to producers of medical cannabis.
The 37-page ruling comes after Ultra Health, New Mexico’s #1 Cannabis Company, filed a complaint against New Mexico State Fair officials for unconstitutional attempts to limit Ultra Health’s rights to display a cannabis educational booth at the 2017 State Fair...
January 22, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Supreme Court refuses to hear coach’s free speech case
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear a case challenging whether teachers and coaches retain any first amendment right to freedom of speech and religion when they’re in the presence of students.
The case centers on Joseph Kennedy, who was suspended and ultimately let go from his job as a high school football coach in Bremerton, Washington, for kneeling midfield and saying a quiet prayer to himself after games...
January 21, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Protest held at Diocese of Covington
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The American Indian Movement Chapter of Indiana and Kentucky held a protest at the Diocese of Covington.
They originally planned to be outside of Covington Catholic High school but AIM says it understands the concerns about showing up outside the school itself...
January 20, 2019 | Federalism
Supreme Court’s Wine-Regulation Case Focuses On Protectionism
Mega-retailer Total Wine & More made its case against Tennessee retail associations and laws as it desires to open stores within the state. Tennessee currently has a residency requirement for operators owning retail stores that mandate that they have lived in the state for at least 10 years.
Total’s attorneys challenged that notion, along with attorneys for Mary and Doug Ketchum, who moved to Tennessee as they were told the weather would be better for their mentally disabled child...
January 15, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
NRA: North Dakota gun control bill denies due process rights
(FARGO) - There’s a bill in the North Dakota legislature that supporters say would keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
The “Public Safety Protection Order Bill” allows law enforcement or family members to petition a court to temporarily ban someone considered a danger to themselves or others from possessing guns...
January 14, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Kobach grand jury process to begin next week in Douglas County
Grand jury proceedings to investigate former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office will begin next week in Douglas County District Court, according to the judge presiding over them.
Judge Kay Huff said that the proceedings would begin in her courtroom on Jan. 22, a Tuesday, following Martin Luther King Jr. Day...
January 17, 2019 | Gun Rights
Bill seeks gun control for domestic violence offenders
BOZEMAN, Mont. — A bill that calls for gun control in domestic violence situations is close to having its first hearing.
State Sen. Sue Malek (D-Missoula) says she's expecting strong opposition to this bill, yet she says she thinks it sparks a needed conversation in Montana...
January 15, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Woman argues her Fourth Amendment rights were violated: State Court of Appeals rules in case
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 7 in favor of a 27-year-old Pennington woman regarding a probation condition requiring her to submit random spot check chemical testing by police.
The Court of Appeals agreed, reversing in part and remanding the Crow Wing County District Court's decision regarding Tara Marie Cournoyer on her sentencing on a controlled substance conviction. Cournoyer was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and conditions of her probation includes she is required to submit random spot-check testing at the request of any licensed peace officer, probation agent of correctional officer...
January 14, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
The Supreme Court could reinterpret the First Amendment in a conservative direction this term. Here’s how
SALT LAKE CITY — Even though they've had more than 230 years to figure out what it means to "establish" religion, legal scholars, judges and religious freedom advocates still don't agree.
The Constitution's establishment clause — a religious protection in the First Amendment that prohibits the "establishment of religion" by the government — is aimed at reducing church-state entanglement, but over time, it's created confusion and controversy, too...
January 7, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Fatal shooting case against officer heads to grand jury
NASHVILLE — The case against a white Nashville police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man went to a grand jury Monday, a step punctuated by days of heated rhetoric by the attorneys.
A Nashville judge found probable cause to send officer Andrew Delke’s case to the grand jury. Delke is charged in the July shooting of 25-year-old Daniel Hambrick, who had a handgun as he ran from the officer...
January 13, 2019 | Freedom of Religion
Spokane Valley Fire, former captain reach $900K settlement in free speech case
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - It's been about six years since Jon Sprague's career with Spokane Valley Fire came to an end because of a disagreement over religious emails he sent to fellow firefighters with his work account.
That disagreement resulted in a six-year legal battle which eventually made its way to the state supreme court. The case just came to an end and now Sprague has nearly $1 million to show for it...
January 9, 2019 | Individual Liberties
Local delegate introduces bill to legalize marijuana in Virginia
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) -- Portsmouth Delegate Steve Heretick didn't waste any time putting in a controversial bill that he calls the first comprehensive bill for legalizing marijuana in Virginia jistory.
Heretick says he has been an advocate for marijuana reform for the past few years -- and has introduced legislation to decriminalize marijuana in every session since 2015...
January 9, 2019 | Freedom of Speech
Rubio, Tlaib trade barbs over Israel, free speech
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) got into a heated exchange with freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) over freedom of speech and a proposed bill to protect Israel from boycotts.
Rubio introduced a bill this week with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that seeks to counter the "boycott, divestment, sanctions" (BDS) movement by allowing state and local government to boycott U.S. companies who engage in boycotts of Israel...
January 11, 2019 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Congressman Slams Civil Forfeiture As ‘A Series Of Government Shakedowns’
Speaking at a panel on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) sharply criticized the federal government’s use of civil forfeiture, which lets law enforcement confiscate property and pocket the proceeds for themselves, all without filing criminal charges.
“In this great country, the presumption of innocence has to be first and foremost,” Congressman Walberg said. “But with civil asset forfeiture, that’s not the case.”...
December 28, 2018 | Student Rights
Lawsuit over Cy-Fair student’s refusal to stand for Pledge of Allegiance settled
HOUSTON - A lawsuit over a student’s refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance that started more than a year ago was settled this week.
The litigation started in 2017 after then-17-year-old Windfren High School student India Landry was expelled after refusing for the 200th time to stand for the pledge...
January 11, 2019 |
Texas county Republicans reject ousting Muslim-American vice chair over his faith
FORT WORTH, Texas — Republicans in one of the most populous counties in Texas voted Thursday to keep a Muslim doctor as their party vice chairman following infighting over some members' claims about his beliefs.
The executive committee of the Tarrant County Republican Party voted 139-49 to reject the effort to purge Shahid Shafi, a surgeon and City Council member in suburban Fort Worth...
January 10, 2019 | Freedom of the Press
Lawmakers mark 100 days since Khashoggi’s death with press freedom event
Lawmakers gathered Thursday to mark 100 days since the disappearance of slain Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and underscore the important of the freedom of the press.
Democrats and Republicans delivered remarks at a press freedom event at the Capitol, decrying Khashoggi's murder and calling for accountability. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the journalist's killing "an atrocity and an affront to humanity."...
January 10, 2019 | Separation of Powers
How the Government Shutdown Could End—Without Trump
The government has been shutdown for nearly three weeks over funding for a border wall, nearing the 1995 record of a 21-day closure.
While negotiations between President Trump and Congressional Democrats have thus far come to naught, there is at least one way Congress can unilaterally reopen the government with out the commander-in-chief: veto override...
January 10, 2019 | Freedom of Assembly
Federal workers demand end to government shutdown at White House protest
On the 20th day of a partial government shutdown, furloughed federal workers, contractors and union representatives gathered before marching to the White House to demand that President Trump reopen the government— with or without funding he has requested for a border wall...
December 11, 2018 | Property Rights
In Georgia, water rollback divides on property rights vs. environment
Some of Georgia’s top Republican elected officials, agricultural organizations and business development groups cheered the Trump administration’s move Tuesday to roll back a sweeping Obama-era clean water regulation aimed at protecting tributaries to navigable waterways...
January 9, 2019 | Federalism
Can a state be hauled into another state’s courts? Supreme Court tries to decide
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court tried for the third time Wednesday to resolve a decades-old legal battle between California and Nevada whose roots date back to the nation's founding.
At stake is an important issue of states' rights: Can a state be hauled into another state's court system against its will? Forty years ago, the high court allowed it. But times – and all the justices – have changed...
January 9, 2019 | Citizen Juries
Want to help make government better? Try signing up for Sacramento County grand jury
Sacramento Superior Court is recruiting volunteers for its 2019-20 grand jury.
The panel gleaned from a cross-section of Sacramento County is charged with reviewing and investigating local governmental activities within the county, from city and county government to schools and special districts...
January 4, 2019 | Gun Rights
Dems to introduce gun background checks bill on anniversary of Gabby Giffords shooting
House Democrats will introduce a bill next week that would require universal background checks for gun purchases.
The proposal will be introduced Tuesday, according to lawmakers, on the eighth anniversary of former Rep. Gabby Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) shooting...
December 4, 2018 | Gun Rights
Florida pension fund urges gun industry to act responsibly
Florida has joined a coalition of major pension funds and investment companies that have adopted a set of principles aimed at encouraging gun manufacturers and retailers to act responsibly...
December 4, 2018 | Gun Rights
One year, eight new gun-control laws in New Jersey
Under an orange banner on a November day — one day after a dozen people were killed by a shooter in a Southern California bar; two weeks after 11 people were killed by a shooter at a Pittsburgh synagogue — Gov. Murphy made his state's already tough gun laws even stronger...
December 4, 2018 | Freedom of Assembly
France protests: PM Philippe suspends fuel tax rises
The move was announced in a televised address by PM Edouard Philippe, who said anyone would have "to be deaf or blind" not to hear or see the anger…
December 4, 2018 | Property Rights
John Bolton: US may ban imports from China that rely on stolen intellectual property
National security adviser John Bolton suggested Tuesday that the White House could seek to bar any imports from China that employ stolen intellectual property from American businesses…
December 4, 2018 | Freedom of Religion
Atheist group sets up holiday display in South Bend’s county-city building
"Oh Come All Ye Faithless." That is the phrase on a holiday display set up in the lobby of the County-City Building by the Northern Indiana Atheists, a nonprofit established to fight separation of church and state violations and defend atheist rights...
December 4, 2018 | Freedom of Religion
Satanic group’s sculpture placed in Illinois statehouse
A display from The Satanic Temple-Chicago has been placed in the Illinois statehouse rotunda, joining the Nativity scene to mark the Christmas season and the Menorah to mark Hanukkah…
December 4, 2018 | Freedom of Religion
Does ‘In God We Trust’ belong in schools?
A week after the school massacre in Parkland, Fla., when grief-stricken students demanded action at the state Capitol, Rep. Kimberly Daniels took to the floor to promote a measure she said had been inspired by God, who she said spoke to her in a dream…
December 4, 2018 | Freedom of Speech
Man goes to light festival, tells kids there is no Santa
A Florida man may be in trouble with a bunch of parents after telling their children there is no Santa Claus…
December 4, 2018 | Freedom of Speech
Foundation wins campus free speech settlement against UC Berkeley
The Young America’s Foundation has won a legal battle, forcing a major college campus to give conservative speakers the same freedoms they give to other speakers…
December 3, 2018 | Gun Rights
Lower penalties, no duty to retreat highlight latest Statehouse gun fight
The Ohio Senate is plowing ahead this week with controversial stand-your-ground legislation despite Gov. John Kasich’s threatened veto of the gun-rights bill, which also would reduce penalties for improperly carrying a gun…
December 3, 2018 | Separation of Powers
Springfield City Council to take final votes on ordinance to protect immigrants
Ignoring a veto threat from the mayor, the City Council in Springfield, Massachusetts plans to take final votes tonight on an ordinance to ban city employees from asking people about their immigration status...
December 3, 2018 | Separation of Powers
Governor Snyder urged to veto efforts to gut minimum wage, sick leave
The Michigan League For Public Policy says lame-duck GOP legislative attempts to gut minimum wage and sick leave legislation is both anti-democratic and bad public policy…
December 3, 2018 | Separation of Powers
Supreme Court rejects environmental challenge to border wall
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday that challenged construction of the Trump administration's planned border wall…
December 3, 2018 | Freedom of Assembly
Group goes on hunger strike to protest Google development in San Jose
Monday is day three of a four-day hunger strike undertaken by some members of the clergy and other activists who believe Google's ambitious plans in downtown San Jose will displace the city's poorest residents…
December 3, 2018 | Freedom of Assembly
Protesters march, call for strike of UNC professors and teaching assistants
Several hundred demonstrators marched the streets of Chapel Hill and amassed around the boarded up base of the Silent Sam Confederate statue at UNC-Chapel Hill on Monday night, calling for a strike of graduate student teaching assistants…
December 3, 2018 | Federalism
Coalition asks U.S. Supreme Court to uphold states’ rights to sue pharmaceutical manufacturers
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is the latest state legal officer to join a 23-state coalition…
December 3, 2018 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Pa. Supreme Court: Names of Catholic clergy will remain shielded
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday ruled that it would not release the identities of 11 Roman Catholic clerics implicated in a high-profile grand jury investigation of child sexual abuse…
December 3, 2018 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
County liable for jailing woman 96 days without seeing judge
There are two remaining questions left for a Mississippi woman who sued over being jailed 96 days without seeing a judge: Will the U.S. Supreme Court get involved, and if not, how much will she get paid…
December 3, 2018 | Citizen Juries
Jury selected in Northampton County serial rape trial
The trial of a Northampton County man accused of serially raping women will begin Tuesday…
December 3, 2018 | Citizen Juries
Jury sentences man to life in fatal shooting
A Bowie County jury handed down a life sentence Friday for a Texarkana man who shot and killed another at a gas station in February…
December 3, 2018 | Citizen Juries
Hamblen man indicted by federal grand jury
Deron Jamal Brashers is the latest Hamblen County resident to transition from state criminal court into U.S. District Court in Greeneville, according to court documents…
December 3, 2018 | Citizen Juries
Iowans can now complete jury questionnaires online
Iowans will no longer receive paper jury questionnaires in the mail with summons to report for jury duty...
December 3, 2018 | Citizen Juries
Jury duty scam threatens arrest unless you pay up
A St. Clair Shores man was recently duped out of $1,000 through a scam in which a caller representing himself as a Macomb County sheriff’s deputy threatened to arrest him unless he paid fines for missing jury duty…
December 3, 2018 | Student Rights
Judge dismisses the lawsuit filed by Arrowhead High School student who sued over her soccer suspension
A Waukesha County Circuit judge has dismissed an Arrowhead High School student's lawsuit against the school, which she filed this spring after the school district suspended her from four soccer games for hosting a party at her parents' house at which underage drinking took place...
December 3, 2018 | Individual Liberties
US government interested in tracking privacy coins, new document shows
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to know if it’s feasible to track transactions conducted using privacy coins…
December 3, 2018 | Individual Liberties
Senators call for data breach penalties, tougher privacy laws after Marriott hack
A slew of Democratic senators are calling for tougher privacy laws — and even steep fines for companies that fail to protect their customers’ data from data breaches — in the wake of Marriott’s admission…
December 3, 2018 | Individual Liberties
Oath agrees to $5 million settlement over children’s privacy online
Oath, the owner of AOL and Yahoo, has agreed to pay about $5 million to settle charges from the New York attorney general that the media company’s online advertising business was violating a federal children’s privacy law…
December 2, 2018 | Freedom of Assembly
Rally planned to protest “Republican power grab”
Democratic and progressive legislators and activists are calling for citizens to rally against a series of Republican proposals..
December 2, 2018 | Freedom of Assembly
Hoover mall shooting: Protest at theater ends ticket sales for the night
Just under two dozen protesters demonstrated for about an hour outside the AMC Patton Creek movie theater in Hoover Sunday night…
December 2, 2018 | Federalism
Recreational marijuana becomes legal in Michigan on Thursday: What to know
Recreational marijuana will become legal before the end of the year in the state of Michigan after voters approved a proposal in the November election….
December 2, 2018 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Motion for new trial is denied
A former Sandpoint man convicted of lewd conduct and sexual abuse of a minor was denied a new trial last month….
December 2, 2018 | Individual Liberties
Biden praises rule of law during speech in Las Vegas
Civil and constitutional rights are under “unrelenting attack,” former Vice President Joe Biden said during a speech Saturday at which he remembered former President George H.W. Bush as a man of class and decency…
December 1, 2018 | Separation of Powers
Judge rules Trump administration can’t withhold funds from Connecticut over ‘sanctuary’ cities
The Trump administration cannot withhold $29 million in federal money from New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and three other states that do not embrace harsh immigration policies, a judge wrote Friday, ruling that the effort violated the separation of powers...
December 1, 2018 | Freedom of Assembly
People gather to protest troops at Davis-Monthan
A small protest broke out early on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Swan entrance of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base concerning troops on the border…
December 1, 2018 | Citizen Juries
Grand jury: Dallas officer’s shooting of neighbor was murder
A former Dallas police officer was indicted on a murder charge Friday, nearly three months after she fatally shot an unarmed neighbor…
November 30, 2018 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Jailed parents must be included in hearings on their kids’ fate, Iowa Supreme Court rules
Parents in prison or jail must be allowed to fully participate in hearings on whether their parental rights will be taken away, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday…
November 30, 2018 | Student Rights
Osseo High student accuses school officials fo violating her rights
An Osseo Senior High School student who identifies as transgender has accused school officials of violating her rights in a Nov. 28 incident in one of the school bathrooms…
November 30, 2018 | Student Rights
Police arrested Montgomery High students in operation disguised as active shooter drill
San Diego police officers floated the unorthodox idea first: Hold an active shooter drill. Lock down your classrooms. Then let us come in and arrest four students…
November 30, 2018 | Student Rights
Cal Poly is threatening free speech, say students who were warned for protesting Raytheon
Five Cal Poly students who protested the relationship between the defense contractor Raytheon and the university at a fall campus career fair say school officials are trying to intimidate them from exercising their free speech rights…
November 30, 2018 | Freedom of Religion
Dover officials say they were forced to remove religious statues or face lawsuit
Season's greetings in Dover will look different this year after the mayor says the city was threatened with a lawsuit if they refused to move a statue of the Ten Commandments and a nativity display off city property…
November 30, 2018 | Freedom of Religion
Freedom from Religion Foundation protests Bible clubs in Wood County Schools
A national organization supporting the separation of church and state says there are constitutional violations in Wood County Schools…
November 29, 2018 | Gun Rights
Washington town might declare itself a sanctuary city for gun rights
The town of Republic may declare itself a sanctuary city from a newly passed gun measure…
November 29, 2018 | Separation of Powers
Immigrants get their “voice”: Illinois House overrides Voices Act veto
The Illinois legislature has approved the so-called Voices Act, overriding a veto from Governor Bruce Rauner…
November 29, 2018 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
New York top court rules non-citizen facing deportation entitled to jury trial
The New York Court of Appeals on Wednesday held that a non citizen charge with a crime…
November 29, 2018 | Citizen Juries
Jury begins hearing testimony in Charlottesville Trial
Statements began Thursday in Charlottesville, Va., in the trial of the man accused of using his car to ram counter-protesters during a "Unite the Right" rally in August 2017, in which one person died…
November 29, 2018 | Separation of Powers
Mayor to veto landmark status for Citgo sign, but says long-term deal will preserve it
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the city has reached a deal that will preserve the iconic Citgo sign in Kenmore Square, but will veto designating it a landmark...
November 29, 2018 | Property Rights
9 charged with selling Samsung’s inernational property, report says
Nine people face charges for allegedly selling Samsung’s curved-edge display technology…
November 29, 2018 | Property Rights
Canton tree dispute fuels property rights fight with lawsuits, proposed state law
A dispute between Canton Township and two brothers accused of illegally clearing trees…
November 29, 2018 | Freedom of Religion
Quakers sue Green Haven prison, claiming religious meetings with prisoners ended
Don Badgley would wait for more than an hour sometimes to sit with the men of Green Haven state prison...
November 28, 2018 | Separation of Powers
White House threatens veto as Yemen resolution gains momentum
The White House has threatened to veto a joint resolution, up for a procedural vote in the Senate today…
November 28, 2018 | Federalism
Supreme Court Appears Ready to Make it Harder for States to Confiscate Property
At the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, a majority of the justices seemed ready to make it more difficult for states to confiscate cars, houses and other property that is even tangentially used in the commission of a crime…
November 27, 2018 | Property Rights
Algonquin to start eminent domain proceedings to acquire land for roundabout
The village of Algonquin will start eminent domain proceedings to try to acquire private property and construct a roundabout…
November 27, 2018 | Property Rights
Eminent domain fight looms in Hopedale over former mill site
The town of Hopedale was originally established as a utopian community, built to honor Christian ideals. But there’s nothing particularly utopian about how efforts to revive this Central Massachusetts municipality’s downtown are playing out…
November 27, 2018 | Property Rights
Supreme Court Orders Review of Agency’s Frog-Habitat Designation
The Supreme Court gave Weyerhaeuser Co. another chance Tuesday to possibly develop a Louisiana timber farm, which could doom an endangered species of frog, telling a lower court to review the government’s decision to designate the land as critical habitat...
November 26, 2018 | Gun Rights
How a Democratic House will affect gun rights
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, likely to again be the House majority leader, has said she will push new gun-control laws as soon as the Democrats get the gavel back in January…
November 26, 2018 | Freedom of Speech
Justices weigh free-speech case involving Alaska’s ‘Arctic Man’ event
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday waded into a freedom of speech case resulting from an arrest at Arctic Man, a snowmobile and ski-race event that draws thousands to a remote campsite in Alaska…
November 26, 2018 | Freedom of Speech
Wisconsin students will not be punished for apparent Nazi salute photo
A Wisconsin school district will not punish students who were photographed last spring while appearing to give the Nazi salute, a district official said…
November 24, 2018 | Freedom of Assembly
Environmental protesters block access to Parliament Square
Dozens of campaigners blocked the roads around Parliament Square to highlight concerns about the environment on Saturday…
November 23, 2018 | Gun Rights
Gun Control: New York wants to make you submit social media history before purchasing guns
A proposed bill in the New York State Senate could mean that anyone wanting to buy a pistol…
November 23, 2018 | Student Rights
Judge orders Hamilton County Schools to pay $103,274 in student disability rights case
The Hamilton County Department of Education has to pay a family roughly $103,000 in a landmark student disability rights case, per a federal judge's order Tuesday…
November 21, 2018 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
Judge: UM deprived professor of due process in disciplinary case
A University of Michigan professor accused of sexual harassment should have been allowed to cross-examine her accusers, a federal judge has ruled…
| Citizen Juries
Calcasieu DA responds to billboards
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - "It is what it is." Those five words are now plastered on billboards along with Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier's face around the Lake Area.
November 20, 2018 | Federalism
Ohio joining suit to preserve states’ rights to regulate pharmacy middlemen
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will support Arkansas in its bid to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower-court ruling throwing out state regulations of pharmacy middlemen…
November 19, 2018 | Student Rights
Ex-student’s suit says Gwinnett violated her rights in sex-assault case
A former Gwinnett County Public Schools student has filed a federal lawsuit against the school district alleging a civil rights violation over a sexual assault complaint…
November 19, 2018 | Property Rights
Judges question seizure of AC property through eminent domain
It was back to court for the Birnbaums…
November 18, 2018 | Freedom of the Press
Merkley resolution urges Senate to stand up for freedom of press
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., introduced a strongly worded resolution Thursday calling for the Senate to stand up for freedom of the press in America and around the world...
November 17, 2018 | Criminal Procedure & Due Process
DeVos proposed new protections for students accused of assault
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed a major overhaul to the way colleges and universities handle sexual misconduct complaints…
November 16, 2018 | Freedom of the Press
Julian Assange charge raises fears about press freedom
The disclosure that federal prosecutors have brought an unidentified criminal charge against Julian Assange…
November 16, 2018 | Freedom of the Press
Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta’s press pass
CNN's Jim Acosta has returned to his post at the White House following a court ruling that forced the Trump administration to reinstate his press pass…
November 15, 2018 | Freedom of the Press
Kill newspaper’s free speech lawsuit against us, Middletown officials ask U.S. judge
Middletown officials are urging a federal judge to dismiss a freedom of speech lawsuit filed against them by the Press & Journal newspaper...
November 14, 2018 | Freedom of the Press
Trump v CNN: lawsuit becomes test case on press freedom
Donald Trump and several of his top aides were accused of violating…
November 13, 2018 | Individual Liberties
Boston Airbnb regulations prompt federal lawsuit
Apartment-sharing giant Airbnb has sued Boston in federal court to stop the implementation in the new year of rules regulating short-term rentals…
November 13, 2018 | Freedom of Speech
Conservative Ben Shapiro touts free speech at Ohio State, attracts protesters
Former Breitbart editor and conservative media personality Ben Shapiro told a crowd at Ohio State on Tuesday night that government exists only to protect life, liberty and property, not to provide services such as housing and health care...
November 10, 2018 | Federalism
Whitaker said he supports state’s rights to nullify federal law
Matthew Whitaker, the new acting attorney general, has said that states have the right to nullify federal law, but that they need the political courage to do so…
November 9, 2018 | Gun Rights
New Jersey governor signs gun control bill to prohibit 3D printed firearms
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation Thursday prohibiting the sale of materials to produce "ghost guns" in state…
November 9, 2018 | Freedom of Religion
‘Push it hard’: Brownback addresses religious freedom on law’s 20th anniversary
The U. S. ambassador for religious freedom called for renewed activism on protecting faiths around the globe on Friday (Nov. 9)…
November 5, 2018 | Student Rights
NWTC denies it violated student’s rights in Valentine’s Day card case
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College denies it violated a student’s Constitutional rights when it stopped her from distributing religious-themed Valentine’s Day cards on campus…
November 5, 2018 | Freedom of Speech
Court rejects free speech claims of convicted stalker
A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of a man found guilty of stalking a New Hampshire teenager…
November 4, 2018 | Federalism
California Attorney General Joins Coalition in Defending States’ Rights to Implement Gun Safety Laws
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday joined a coalition of 16 Attorneys General supporting New Jersey and its defense of reasonable gun legislation that restricts large-capacity magazines…
October 29, 2018 | Freedom of Speech
Calling Muhammad paedophile ‘not protected by free speech’
A European court has upheld the blasphemy conviction of an Austrian woman who called the Prophet Muhammad a paedophile…
October 23, 2018 | Freedom of the Press
Pence vows US response to Khashoggi death: Those responsible will be held accountable
Vice President Pence on Tuesday vowed the U.S. would respond to the "brutal murder" of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling it an "assault on a free and independent press."
September 25, 2018 | Individual Liberties
Laxalt hails ruling in Elko 4th Amendment case
Can a police officer who stops someone on the street detain that person long enough to check the validity of their identification?
August 3, 2018 | Individual Liberties
COA: 4th Amendment rights not violated by search of home
The Indiana Court of Appeals determined that a man’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated during a search of his residence because law enforcement had ample reason to believe he was at the residence…
July 11, 2018 | Federalism
What Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Could Mean for States’ Rights
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s rulings on federal regulatory power, and his approach to the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, provide the best hints of how he might rule on cases involving states’ rights…