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January 15, 2021

In an amicus brief filed in Birt v. United States, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that individuals subjected to discriminatory drug laws that disproportionately, by a 100-1 ratio, deliver harsher prison sentences to African-Americans can have their sentences reconsidered in a fairer light. 

January 08, 2021

Coming to the defense of a military cadet raped while enrolled at West Point Military Academy, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the right of military servicemembers to sue the government over injuries suffered as a result of government negligence in an amicus brief filed in Jane Doe v. United States.

December 30, 2020

Pushing back against efforts to dismantle the constitutional right to be secure in one’s home from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents, The Rutherford Institute is challenging an attempt by police to justify carrying out a warrantless home invasion of a man who honked his horn several times and had his music turned up while driving. 

December 17, 2020

In an 8-0 ruling in Tanzin v. Tanvir that affirms the right of religious individuals to not be persecuted for their faith, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of three men who were allegedly placed on a “no fly” list as retaliation for refusing to act as FBI informants within their religious communities.

December 10, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to keep the government from meddling in church affairs. In weighing in before the Court in Episcopal Church v. The Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth, Rutherford Institute attorneys warn against a trend in which state courts have attempted to second-guess church decisions on inherently religious matters by relying on so-called “neutral principles.”

December 02, 2020

Pushing back against efforts to extend the government’s spying powers, The Rutherford Institute has asked a federal appeals court to end Baltimore’s use of aerial surveillance to continuously track and monitor the activities of citizens throughout the city.

November 19, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a North Carolina student who was suspended from school and reported to police for possessing a look-alike weapon and making a threat after he displayed a toy gun during a virtual class as part of a Halloween assignment to “look scary.”

November 13, 2020

In a victory for religious liberty, The Rutherford Institute has reached a settlement with the State of Delaware over a First Amendment lawsuit challenging discriminatory COVID-19 restrictions that applied to churches but not big-box shopping stores, liquor stores, and guns shops. Under the settlement, Delaware promises not to reissue rules targeting churches that limit the number of persons who can worship, the number of services that can be held, and how churches conduct rituals such as baptism and communion.  The lawsuit, Rev. Dr. Christopher Allen Bullock v. Gov. John C. Carney, was filed on behalf of Rev. Bullock, the founder and pastor for Canaan Baptist Church near New Castle, Del., who believes the state’s restrictions overstepped the wall of separation between church and state. 

October 29, 2020

Fighting back against the “policing for profit” forfeiture system that unfairly enriches police departments at the expense of ordinary citizens, The Rutherford Institute has come to the aid of a Michigan man whose vehicle was taken by police without a warrant and kept for three years without any opportunity to challenge the lawfulness of the seizure.  In an amicus curiae brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Nichols v. Wayne County, Rutherford Institute attorneys assert that this case is but one of many nationwide showing the injustice that results from civil asset forfeiture laws that incentivize prolonged detention of seized property in the absence of evidence that the property owner had broken any laws. In 2017 alone, Wayne County police reportedly seized vehicles from 380 people who were never charged with criminal activity.

October 22, 2020

In a blow to privacy that extends the government’s authority to create a web of surveillance, the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that state and local police are free to use Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) to collect data about the travel and movement of persons throughout the state. Denouncing the fact that Americans cannot even drive their cars without being tracked by the government, The Rutherford Institute had asked the Court to rule in Fairfax County Police Department v. Neal that the use of ALPRs violated a Virginia law restricting government collection of personal information. Mounted next to traffic lights or on police cars, ALPRs  photograph over 1,800 license tag numbers per minute, take a picture of every passing license tag number and store the tag number and the date, time, and location of the picture in a searchable database. The data is then shared with law enforcement, fusion centers and private companies and used to track the movements of persons in their cars. There are reportedly tens of thousands of these license plate readers now in operation throughout the country. It is estimated that over 99% of the people being unnecessarily surveilled are entirely innocent.

October 15, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has again come to the aid of a Georgia parent who has been barred from attending her son’s high school football games unless she compromises her religious beliefs and complies with the school district’s mask requirement for spectators.

October 02, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has weighed in before the U.S. Supreme Court on a case in which campus police, citing “disorderly conduct,” prevented a college student from speaking about his Christian faith and distributing religious literature from a small free speech zone on a 260-acre campus. In an amicus brief filed in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, Rutherford Institute attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to hold officials at Georgia Gwinnett College liable for violating college student Chike Uzuegbunam’s free speech rights and ensure that campus policies adhere to the First Amendment.

September 23, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has come to the aid of a Georgia mother who has been barred from attending her son’s high school football games unless she compromises her religious beliefs and complies with the school district’s mask requirement for spectators. In a letter to the superintendent of Fulton County (Ga.) Schools (FCS), Rutherford Institute attorneys point out that Tara Barnett’s request to attend her son’s football games without a face covering while social distancing from other spectators qualifies for a religious accommodation under Governor Kemp’s executive orders, which requires masks to be worn when social distancing is not possible. All spectators at FCS athletic events are required to social distance by sitting in designated areas six feet apart from other spectators unless sitting with family. 

September 17, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has issued a precautionary “opt out” letter as a means by which families whose children are taking part in remote learning / virtual classes might assert their Fourth Amendment privacy rights and guard against intrusive government surveillance posed by remote learning technologies. The Institute released its model “Parental Reservation of Rights – Remote Learning Surveillance” letter in the wake of a growing number of incidents in which students have been suspended and reported to police by school officials for having toy guns nearby while taking part in virtual schooling.

September 16, 2020

Seeking to ensure that Delaware does not reinstitute strident COVID-19 restrictions imposed at the outset of the pandemic, The Rutherford Institute is asking a federal court to reject the governor’s motion to dismiss a First Amendment lawsuit safeguarding churches from being unfairly discriminated against in their efforts to worship in accordance with their religious beliefs. Delaware's COVID-19 restrictions included a ban on gatherings that was specifically applicable to churches and “strongly encouraged” houses of worship to transition to remote services by video or telephone. However, the ban on gatherings contained numerous exceptions, allowing big-box shopping stores, liquor stores, and guns shops to be open without having to abide by a 10-person restriction. 

September 11, 2020

Responding to numerous reports of low-flying aircraft harassing property owners throughout Central Virginia in August 2020, The Rutherford Institute has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Virginia State Police (VSP) seeking information about its aerial surveillance program in order to determine whether the state is complying with Fourth Amendment restrictions on the use of aircraft to spy upon citizens. While the Fourth Amendment allows law enforcement to conduct naked-eye observations of private property during ordinary flyovers, the Constitution forbids unusually low flyovers or the use of high-tech sight-enhancing equipment for aerial searches.  

September 02, 2020

The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a Nevada firearms training facility threatened with fines because of its plans for reopening.  In a letter to officials with Nye County, Nevada, on behalf of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, Rutherford Institute attorneys warned local officials against abusing government authority during the pandemic to curtail Second Amendment rights. Pushing back against claims by Nye County officials that Front Sight faces fines and other penalties due to its plan to allow more than 50 persons in its training facility, Institute attorneys point out that firearms training, designated as “essential infrastructure,” is exempt from the governor’s emergency restrictions. Moreover, attorneys assert that Front Sight Firearms Training Institute is exempt from gathering restrictions and mask requirements imposed by Nevada’s governor because state law forbids the use of emergency powers to prohibit activities at the core of the constitutional right to bear arms, including training in the safe use of firearms.  

August 10, 2020

With more than 97,000 children testing positive for the coronavirus during a two-week period that coincides with schools across the nation struggling to determine when and how to safely re-open, student whistleblowers at a Georgia high school district were suspended for sharing pictures on social media showing mostly maskless students in a crowded school hallway. Although the suspension has since been lifted following a public outcry, The Rutherford Institute warned North Paulding High School officials against threatening students who raise legitimate health and safety concerns about the school environment, pointing out that students’ First Amendment right to speak out and share information about school conditions may not be restricted or sanctioned unless it materially and substantially disrupts school operations.

July 23, 2020

Fighting to ensure that no one is imprisoned in violation of their constitutional rights, The Rutherford Institute is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow persons convicted by non-unanimous juries to challenge those convictions under the Court’s recent ruling in Ramos v. Louisiana that the Sixth Amendment requires all jurors vote to convict a criminal defendant. In filing an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Vannoy, The Rutherford Institute has joined a coalition of civil liberties organizations that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Conservative Union Foundation, Cato Institute and R Street Institute.

July 08, 2020

In a victory for the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty, the U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of religious schools to be free from government meddling in decisions involving religious doctrine and who is allowed to teach that doctrine. In a 7-2 ruling in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Agnes Morrisey-Beru and St. James School v. Darryl Biel, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws that protects religious employers from certain lawsuits. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute had filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the government has no jurisdiction to second-guess church decisions on who can act and serve as “ministers.”

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