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August 05, 2022

The Rutherford Institute is challenging an attempt by Texas officials to muzzle political viewpoints expressed in the form of boycotts and protests. Texas' anti-boycott law prohibits the government from doing business with companies that boycott or criticize Israel. Approximately 33 states have adopted laws that seek to punish those who criticize Israel by denying them government contracts.

July 28, 2022

A case before the U.S. Supreme Court throws into stark relief the racial bias, prosecutorial misconduct and systemic injustice at the core of Texas’ death penalty system. The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to allow DNA testing of evidence in Reed v. Goertz, a murder case that could exonerate a black death row inmate while implicating a white police officer for the murder of his own fiancé. In agreeing to hear the case, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide when prisoners can pursue post-conviction claims for DNA testing of crime scene evidence.

July 14, 2022

In the midst of politically polarizing rulings on abortion, gun rights and religion, the U.S. Supreme Court closed out its 2021-22 term with a handful of disparate rulings that served to further shield federal officials and police against lawsuits arising out of their misconduct, incompetence and brutality, undermine longstanding remedies for Miranda violations, and allow a death row inmate to seek death by a firing squad as an alternative form of execution.

July 07, 2022

By a 6-3 decision in N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law which allowed government officials to pick and choose which class of citizens were deemed worthy of self-protection. Affirming that the Second Amendment “right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not a second-class right,” the Court ruled that individuals do not have to demonstrate some special need to the government for approval before exercising any other constitutional rights.

June 27, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment protects a public high school coach’s right to kneel and silently pray on the school’s football field after a game. The 6-3 ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District comes more than a decade after The Rutherford Institute first asked the Court to safeguard the right of another high school football coach, Marcus Borden, to bow his head and take a knee during a student-led prayer.

June 10, 2022

Despite a lack of direct evidence that a suspect was engaged in ongoing illegal activities, a court sentenced the man to five years in prison based in part on the frequency of his visits to a barbershop where drugs were being sold. Weighing in before the U.S. Supreme Court in Tucker v. U.S., The Rutherford Institute warns that convictions based on government conspiracy theories and speculative calculations rather than clear-cut proof will render every American a criminal who has the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

June 03, 2022

The City of Houston has recently adopted an ordinance that requires private businesses to purchase and install digital surveillance cameras that carry out round-the-clock, citywide surveillance on the populace while “allowing” police to access the footage at any time, for any reason, and without the need of a court-issued warrant.

May 16, 2022

The Rutherford Institute is challenging attempts by a Texas school district to prohibit its employees from publicly criticizing the school or its policies. In a letter to officials at the Carroll Independent School District, Rutherford Institute attorneys warn that the non-disparagement clause included in the District’s employment contracts, which requires employees to “agree to not disparage, criticize, or defame the District, and its employees or officials, to the media,” constitutes a restriction on speech in violation of the First Amendment that would likely not hold up in court.

May 02, 2022

In a unanimous ruling in Harold Shurtleff v. City of Boston, the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that the City of Boston violated the First Amendment when it refused to fly a Christian flag on a city flagpole while allowing other flags. 

April 25, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling in Hammond v. U.S. that allows police to warrantlessly track people’s location and movements through their personal cell phones, despite longstanding Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against warrantless searches and seizures and growing concerns about the government’s massive surveillance networks.

April 22, 2022

A bill passed by the Tennessee legislature to deter homelessness could put all citizens at risk of jail, police searches and a $3,000 fine for sleeping or camping outside in a public place. In providing a legal analysis of the bill’s shortcomings, The Rutherford Institute warns that the General Assembly’s attempt to criminalize homelessness will only worsen the plight of the homeless while criminalizing activities enjoyed by the general populace and threatening their freedoms, and might not withstand constitutional scrutiny.

April 21, 2022

In a 6-3 ruling in Thompson v. Clark, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that individuals have a Fourth Amendment right to hold police accountable for maliciously instituting charges and arrests without probable cause.

March 31, 2022

The Rutherford Institute is challenging a Florida city’s ordinance which resulted in two protesters being fined $3000 for displaying political messages in violation of a city ordinance banning signs, clothing and other graphic displays containing words that the city deems “indecent.”

March 25, 2022

In the debate over when and how government officials should accommodate the spiritual requests of death row inmates when pitted against prison protocols, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a death row inmate’s request to have his pastor audibly pray and lay hands on him in the execution chamber.

March 24, 2022

Coinciding with the second anniversary of the COVID-19 outbreak, The Rutherford Institute has issued an in-depth, follow-up report on the impact of the nation’s response to the pandemic on civil liberties. The 2022 report, “The Right to Be Let Alone: How to Safeguard Your Freedoms in the Face of the Government’s COVID-19 Power Grabs,” posits that the government’s response to the pandemic has become a massively intrusive, coercive and authoritarian assault on the right of individual sovereignty over one’s life, self and private property.

March 11, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a death row inmate’s request for an alternative, less painful, method of execution. Pointing out that a medical condition could result in significant pain as a result of the state of Georgia’s method of death by lethal injection, death row inmate Michael Nance has asked to be executed by a firing squad.

March 04, 2022

Do football coaches have a First Amendment right to kneel and offer up a personal, silent prayer on the field after a football game or practice? More than a decade after the U.S. Supreme Court refused The Rutherford Institute’s request to safeguard the right of a high school football coach to bow his head and take a knee during a student-led prayer, the issue is back before the courts.

February 25, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to stop police from using hidden cameras to secretly and warrantlessly record and monitor a person’s activities outside their home over an extended period of time. In refusing to hear an appeal in Travis Tuggle v. U.S., the Supreme Court left in place a lower court ruling which concluded that no “search” in violation of the Fourth Amendment had occurred because the private activity recorded by the hidden surveillance cameras took place in public view.

February 17, 2022

A Virginia public school system has announced its plan to adopt what has been likened to a precrime surveillance program in order to monitor and deter social media threats, hate speech, bullying and harassment by students. Pointing out that the social media monitoring program being developed and considered by Fairfax County Public Schools (“FCPS”) raises significant concerns about government surveillance and its chilling effect on the lawful speech of students, parents, and other community members, The Rutherford Institute also warned that such a program could give rise to one-size-fits-all zero tolerance policies regarding expressive activity that is misconstrued as negative, critical or hateful.

February 10, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Sixth Amendment right of criminal defendants to confront and cross-examine witnesses. The Rutherford Institute, along with the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union, had filed an amicus brief in Hemphill v. New York, arguing that judge-made exceptions to the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause are unconstitutional.

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