Key Cases

Since 1982, The Rutherford Institute has defended the constitutional rights of thousands of people. Many of these cases involved the defense of parents' and students' rights, free speech rights, and privacy rights. Most cases were settled out of court, some were fought in courtrooms across the country, and several were appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. No matter what legal question was involved or how much attention the case received, each case has been equally important. As John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, has said, "All freedoms hang together. To defend one constitutional freedom is to defend them all, and to defend one person's constitutional rights is to defend those rights for everyone." The following is a sampling of recent and ongoing key cases in The Rutherford Institute's 20-year history. 


RFID Tracking

The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a San Antonio high school student who was told that she must wear a name badge containing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip as part of her school district's new “Student Locator Project.” So small that they are barely detectable to the human eye, RFID tags produce a radio signal by which the wearer’s precise movements can be constantly monitored, raising serious privacy concerns. For Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at Jay High School, the badges also pose a significant religious freedom concern. Click here to read more.

Veteran's Rights

Brandon Raub, a former Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was detained by FBI agents and police officers at his home in Chesterfield County based upon the nature of content posted to his Facebook page in recent months. Rutherford Institute attorneys are challenging Raub's arrest and detention on the grounds that the detainment order was procedurally improper, the result of an unlawful detention, and was based entirely on statements made by Raub that constitute protected free speech under the First Amendment. Click here to read more.


One of the first organizations to warn against the threats to Americans' safety and privacy posed by the domestic use of drones, The Rutherford Institute has drafted model resolutions and legislation aimed at preventing police agencies from utilizing drones outfitted with anti-personnel devices such as tasers and tear gas and prohibiting the government from using data recorded via police spy drones in criminal prosecutions. Click here to read more.


The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a Phoenix man who is serving a 60-day jail sentence and was fined more than $12,000 for using his private residential property to host a weekly Bible study, allegedly in violation of the City of Phoenix's building codes. In coming to the defense of Michael Salman, Rutherford Institute attorneys are challenging the legality of Salman's imprisonment as a violation of his First Amendment right to religious freedom and assembly. Click here to read more.


In an attempt to secure American air travel, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has implemented an intrusive policy of scanning travelers with Whole Body Imaging (WBI) devices which allow them to observe an image of passengers' nude bodies to search for restricted items. If a traveler chooses to opt-out of this security measure, he is subjected to an invasive pat-down. The TSA whole body scanners are indicative of a larger climate of increased surveillance and policing directed toward innocent American citizens. Click here to read more about The Rutherford Institute's efforts to combat these unjust security procedures.

Free Speech Buffer Zones

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have asked a federal appeals court to affirm and uphold a lower court's ruling that declared a federal ban on expressive activity on the U.S. Supreme Court plaza to be "repugnant" to the Constitution. In a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Hodge v. Talkin, et al., Institute attorneys argue that a 60-year old statute which broadly makes it unlawful to display any flag, banner or device designed to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement while on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court is facially unconstitutional. Click here to read more.