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October 26, 2017
Rutherford Institute Denounces Justice Dept. Plan to Expand Policing for Profit Schemes, Issues Constitutional Guidance on Civil Asset Forfeiture

The Rutherford Institute has issued constitutional guidelines on the government’s excessive and controversial use of civil asset forfeiture, also referred to as “policing for profit,” which allows police to arbitrarily seize private property—cars, cash, jewelry, homes, etc.—without having to charge the owners with a crime. Once the assets have been seized, police divvy up the profits with the federal government, establishing what Rutherford Institute attorneys refer to as an “incentive-driven excuse for stealing from the citizenry.” The publication of the Institute’s guidelines coincides with a recent announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Justice Department plans to expand law enforcement’s use of civil asset forfeiture even in states that have restricted the practice.

October 12, 2017
U.S. Supreme Court Lets Stand Lower Court Ruling That Could Endanger First Amendment Activity by Expanding 'Government Speech' Doctrine

In a move that could lead to a dangerous expansion of the “government speech” doctrine in order to limit any speech that occurs on government property, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review a federal appeals court ruling that places highway rest areas off limits for First Amendment activities.

September 28, 2017
Rutherford Institute Asks Eastern District Court to Hold Virginia Prison Officials Accountable to Maintaining Humane Conditions for Inmates

The Rutherford Institute, working in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union, has asked a federal district court to uphold a lawsuit filed on behalf of Virginia death-row inmates held in “dehumanizing” conditions of isolation. In weighing in before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the two civil liberties organizations argue that tactical policy changes adopted by the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) in order to sidestep court-mandated legal obligations (the practice of “tactical mooting”) leave prisoners at greater risk of having harsh conditions re-imposed upon them.

September 20, 2017
Rutherford Institute Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Rein in Aggressive, Coercive, Potentially Violent Knock-and-Talk Practices by Militarized Police

Warning of the danger to the public from the increasing use of “knock and talk” tactics by police, The Rutherford Institute has asked the United States Supreme Court to rein in aggressive “knock and talk” practices, which have become thinly veiled, warrantless attempts by which citizens are coerced and intimidated into “talking” with heavily armed police who “knock” on their doors in the middle of the night.

September 14, 2017
Constitutional Attorney John W. Whitehead Speaks on ‘The State of the First Amendment on College Campuses’ at Univ. of Virginia Constitution Day Event

Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead will be speaking on the “State of the First Amendment on College Campuses” as part of a Constitution Day event at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy on Thursday, September 14, 2017.

September 13, 2017
Rutherford Institute Weighs in Before Virginia State Crime Commission on the Decriminalization of Simple Marijuana Possession

The Rutherford Institute is calling on the Commonwealth of Virginia to reduce the punishment for simple possession of marijuana (less than one-half ounce) to a ticket and fine instead of a misdemeanor offense, which carries with it a criminal record and the possibility of jail time.

September 07, 2017
VICTORY: Court Upholds Rutherford Institute's Claims That Sheriffs Conducted Unconstitutional Search and Arrest Based on Anonymous Source

A federal court has rejected efforts by Texas police to dismiss a Fourth Amendment lawsuit brought by The Rutherford Institute challenging a warrantless raid, search, and arrest of a Texas homeowner based on unreliable information from an anonymous source.

August 31, 2017
Rutherford Institute Challenges Expansion of 'Government Speech' Doctrine, Disputes Claim That First Amendment Doesn't Apply to Highway Rest Areas

Warning that a dangerous expansion of the “government speech” doctrine by the courts could be used to limit any speech that occurs on government property, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that places highway rest areas off limits for First Amendment activities.

August 24, 2017
Rutherford Institute Rebuts Effort to Curtail First Amendment Activities, Issues Guidance on Constitutional Rights of Citizens to Peacefully Protest

Pushing back against an effort to limit the First Amendment rights of those individuals who express ideas that are unpopular, controversial or at odds with what the government determines to be acceptable, The Rutherford Institute has issued constitutional guidelines on the rights of citizens to engage in peaceful protest activities.

August 17, 2017
Rutherford Institute Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Americans' Cell Phone Records Against Warrantless Government Surveillance

WASHINGTON, DC — Denouncing the now widespread tactic employed by police departments, big and small, of spying on Americans via their cell phones with little to no ...

August 14, 2017
Statement from The Rutherford Institute Regarding Violence at the August 12 Rally in Charlottesville

There is always the temptation following a tragedy to point fingers and find someone to blame in addition to those directly responsible for committing acts of violence. It is unfortunate that those leading the charge right now have chosen to cast the blame on civil liberties organizations that were compelled to stand up for the principles of the Constitution when the government failed to do so. To suggest that the ACLU of Virginia or The Rutherford Institute or the federal district court were in any way complicit in this weekend’s violence is to do a grave disservice to every individual who has ever fought and died for the freedoms on which this nation was founded.

August 11, 2017
Court Rules in Favor of First Amendment Rights of Controversial ‘Alt Right’ Activist’s Right to Protest in Historic Park

In a resounding victory for the First Amendment right to free speech, a federal court has ruled that government officials cannot prevent activists who espouse highly controversial views from protesting in a historic downtown park, while allowing counterdemonstrators access to parks in the vicinity. In granting a temporary restraining order that orders the City of Charlottesville to allow Unite the Right to hold an August 12 rally in Emancipation Park, Judge Glen E. Conrad ruled that the disparity in treatment between the two groups suggests that the City’s decision to revoke alt right activist Jason Kessler’s permit was based on the content of his speech. Moreover, the judge concluded that the City’s justification for revoking Kessler’s permit out of a concern that many thousands would attend the rally was based on pure speculation and not evidence. 

August 10, 2017
Rutherford Institute & ACLU Sue City for Discriminating Against Controversial 'Alt Right' Views by Blocking Protesters' Access to Park

Pointing out that the First Amendment prohibits the government from blocking a protest based on its content or viewpoint, or based on how the government anticipates others will respond to the protest, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute and American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU) have filed a First and Fourteenth Amendment lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville, Va., for discriminating against protesters who espouse highly controversial views and blocking their access to a historic downtown park while allowing counterdemonstrators access to parks in the vicinity.

August 02, 2017
Rutherford Institute Asks Virginia Supreme Court to Prohibit Police From Using License Plate Readers as Surveillance Tool to Track Citizens

Denouncing the fact that Americans cannot even drive their cars without being enmeshed in the government’s web of surveillance, The Rutherford Institute has asked the Virginia Supreme Court to prohibit Virginia police from using license plate readers as surveillance tools to track drivers’ movements. Mounted next to traffic lights or on police cars, license plate readers photograph up to 3,600 license tag numbers per minute. 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. In challenging the use of license plate readers by Fairfax police, Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that Fairfax County’s practice of collecting and storing license plate reader data violates a Virginia law prohibiting the government from amassing personal information about individuals, including their driving habits and location.

July 20, 2017
Victory: Virginia Supreme Court Declares That Judges Who Spoke Out on Apolitical Matter of Public Concern Did Not Violate Ethics Rules

RICHMOND, Va. —In a ruling that may give Virginia judges more leeway to engage in apolitical public discourse, the Virginia Supreme Court has dismissed a complaint ...

July 19, 2017
Rutherford Institute Calls on Glen Rock Borough to Respect First Amendment Right of Naval Officer to Play 'Taps' in Honor of Fallen Heroes

The Rutherford Institute is calling on officials in Glen Rock, Penn., to withdraw an order to an active-duty naval officer to cease and desist playing “Taps” on a sound system on his five-acre residential property or face a criminal fine of $300. 

July 18, 2017
Rutherford Institute, ACLU Et Al. Call on Police to De-Escalate Use of Force, Adopt Less Confrontational Tactics in Dealing With Protesters

The Rutherford Institute, American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Legal Aid Justice Center, and National Lawyers Guild are calling on Virginia police to de-escalate their use of force and adopt less confrontational tactics in dealing with those who choose to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights to assemble in public and engage in nonviolent protests.

July 10, 2017
First Amendment Victory: Third Circuit Rules That Citizens and Journalists Have Right to Film/Record Police in Public

In a victory for the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that citizens and journalists have a right to record police in public without fear of retaliation

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